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January 12, 2010

Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays: Breaking up at a restaurant/bar

breaking up in public can be messy businessI've never actually ended a relationship in a public place. I hate the idea of sitting down at a table and going through the motions with someone while all the time I know I want to call it off. In today's column, Owl Meat meditates on the idea of breaking up at a restaurant or bar.

We need to talk.

It's the linguistic four horsemen of relationships. The sadistic slow burn that often precedes the swirly-gurgly rending of your heart in the InSinkErator of love. "We need to talk at dinner," is even more ominous.

Breaking up in a bar or restaurant is a high-wire act. It's commonplace in movies and on TV, but does it occur in real life that often?

I'm not talking about the spontaneous rift or drunken squall. I mean the polite, premeditated relationship conclusion. ...

I've never been part of something so well-planned and civilized. Then again, people on TV and film "date" in a manner that seems alien to me.

I suppose that the idea behind breaking up in pubic is to minimize the possibility of an ugly extended scene. The risk is that if such a scene does happen in public, it would be more embarrassing. The breakup is a key plot device on Seinfeld. Nobody had more funny and dysfunctional breakups.

I now offer some real world suggestions for those who want to slaughter Cupid in public. In the human equation, all variables should be considered for your own well-being. Change the genders to suit your needs.

please, sofia, i didn't mean to choose my Miller Lite over you!1) Don't do it where your friends hang out. She might embarrass you in very personal ways. Nobody wants a new nickname given by an angry para-no-mour.

2) Don't go to places where her friends gather. Duh.

3) Meet there. Make sure you have your own transportation home.

4) Don't wear anything you care about. Red wine can fly.

5) No sizzling plates or fondue. You don't want to spend the night in the ER with third degree Asiago burns and a long fork in your thigh.

6) No steakhouses – knives.

7) Nothing fancy. Don't waste an expensive dinner on a walk out.

8) Don't wait until you are filled to the gills to spill. Stay in control.

9) Don't go to any place that you ever want to go back to.

10) After dessert just tell the truth: "It's not me. It's you."

I'm sure that every bar and restaurant owner and employee would prefer that you handle these situations privately. Watching other people fight in public is not fun at all.

Someone once said that all relationships end in breakups or death. I believe in something more romantic and beautiful ... arbitration. Actually, I always believe that things will work out, which makes me ... an optimist? You didn't see that coming, did you?

As always, I humbly solicit your stories of personal or observed comedy and tragedy involving public breakups. Oh, and Jennifer, meet me at Birches tonight at eight. We need to talk.

(Getty Images)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:52 AM | | Comments (25)
Categories: Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays


Just break up Via text... thats the new hot move

Just break up Via text... thats the new hot move

It doesn't get any more shallow than that (or email).

I'm glad I don't have to deal with that anymore. Technology makes cowards of us all.

changing your facebook status from in a relationship to single has to be the most gutless thing ever. you're mafia war friends know before your girl does. ouch/fail/lame

One of my biggest mistakes was breaking up at a bar. I wasn't even intending to. I just wanted to tell her that while things were advancing, she was just moving faster than me and not giving me a chance to catch up. I even had a series of hand-gestures prepared so I could visually show her what I meant. Of course, she didn't take the talk well and so I started downing glass after glass of wine (I thought a classy wine bar would be a good place). The wine didnt help my graphical presentation of the progress of our relationship. As I panicked that things weren't going well, my voice got louder so everyone in the small bar could see and hear my explanation. Things quickly turned into a full-fledged break-up. I learned never to have one of those talks in a bar and preparing a visual presentation will not go over well either!

The only time i've been broken up with in public in such a manner put me off chinese food for about 5 years.
I mean really, come on, do you really want to do that to someone you used to care about? It's sadistic.
Also, and you'll be that person to the staff "He didn't tip very well and he dumped that poor girl in public! She was crying in her risotto!"
Even if you never go back to that place, the servers don't just live at the restaurant. "Dude.. remember that jerk i was telling you about who broke up with that girl at my work.. there he is!" ~poof~ your are now That Guy every where you go.
Nothing good can come of the public breakup.

Remember...everything ends bad otherwise it wouldn't end

So TV ≠ reality. The funny public breakup is the chupacabra of the social world.

.I even had a series of hand-gestures prepared so I could visually show her what I meant.

Awesome. Apparently, not even a puppet show can save this bad idea. Great story.

Is there truly any good way of breaking up that doesn't have the potential of turning into a duel?

I guess the texting/email/voice mail root may be of greater wisdom if the person being cut loose is more likely to respond with greater force than giving a mere tongue lashing. Also it let's you think out, ahead of time, what you're going to say with less stage fright.

I guess if both of you are truly civilized and are mutual aware that the relationship has become routine with a strong element of strife or ennui, then breaking up is a shared relief.
Not often enough real world occurrance.

GDA , sweet fancy Moses, the myth of the mutual breakup. More rare than the chupacabra, it's the Yeti of social situations.

Has anyone ever done speed dating? It sounds insane. Of course, you do get to break up with eight people in an hour or however it works.

I was at Paolo's in Towson some years ago and met a nice woman at the bar. We really hit it off. Too bad she was there for some dating dinner of strangers, four men and four women with a wrangler, I stayed at the bar for a while and watched.

Unlike the natural rapport I had with the woman, she and the other dating guppies seemed to be having a forced miserable time. Lot's of exchanging of business cards – blech.

A public break-up would be so hurtful in my opinion.

Indeed, NotableM. As you can see, even a visual assist from a puppet show can't save this from being a bummer for one or both parties.

GDA, perhaps writing is a more civilized approach. Kind of like a letter of resignation.

If it must be done in public, I prefer a place where one can make a quick departure. A noisy train station, or an airport tarmac before boarding a plane to Lisbon. Or a wind-swept heath.

Owlie, we'll always have Paris.

Wait, so Yeti is rarer than the chupacabra? Where do unicorns fit in? Underwear gnomes?

In any event, the best way to break up with someone is to completely ignore his or her calls/texts/voice/sexual advances/violent outbursts.

Sure, it's a bit tougher to pull off when you're giving the boot to a spouse, but eventually he or she will get the picture.

BA, you should work for Hallmark.

You know I did do some quick math on chupacabra vs. Yeti frequency and I stand by my decision.

Moebius blog update: Someone pointed out in an email that Dining@Large gave this column a nice shout out today. Thank you, Elizabeth.

BTW, the person EL mentioned who suggested this topic to her was in fact me. The list of ten breaking up rules is close to verbatim from an email I sent her a year and a half ago. At the Owl Meat Institute no ideas are ever discarded.

Zoinks, that last line is the most elaborate and clever slam of Birch's yet.

I will make sure I have cab fare if my guy ever wants to take me to Golden West. Thanks for making me paranoid Mr. Meat. :-)

Owl Meat Gaigezunterhait, again you speak the truth.
As go the gruesome twosome breakup scenes , so to with the use of restaurant DMZ's for full-contact family arguments... I once witnessed a father and son turn a holiday meal at an upscale country inn into a rerun of The Wild Wild West, with the son flipping over their table and storming out while Mom and Sis looked flash-frozen and Pop just sat among the debris with a sadistic smirk on his face. When the son hurried back into the room (to apologize to the dining room, and go hug his Dad in a ritual surrender), I really thought he was about to pull a gun. Bottom line though, I think the management should have offered each table a gratis tranquilizing beverage; our waiter just casually asked if we wanted coffee, which was surreal, given the collateral damage to the festive ambience and all..

I took some crap from my blog readers for this, but, unless it's a serious long-term relationship, I personally favor not breaking up in person. Who really wants to dress up and go out somewhere only to get dumped? But if you really want to do it the proper way, meet them for coffee--it's quick and usually doesn't involve any glassware.



Most excellent story, Gene, and quite handsomely written.

SpeedDatingGirl... You are intriguing. I think I love you. Okay, we're done Next!

Oy, my gracious Owl Meat Gleichvertel-
Such fertile "G" ground as yiddish you should know

I'm not sure if it was a breakup or just a fight (since they were European and not speaking English) but I was in Ireland recently and these two girls who we assumed were lesbians got an argument at the pub we were at. We were seated at a counter in front of the front window with the girls a chair or two away, eating food. Suddenly one blew up at the other and shouted something, then picked her plate up and smashed it down, sending shards of plate and food everywhere. EVERYONE stopped and looked at the five of us seated at the counter. Since me and my two friends looked as shocked as anyone I guess they could assume we didn't cause the outburst. The two girls sat there for the next 20 minutes without saying a word. The one who was didn't smash everything was still eating so they just sat there in silence. Awkward. So, I guess don't get into a fight in such a public situation either.

So you don't get kicked out for smashing a plate of food on the floor? Those crazy metric lesbians.

Owl Meat Gravy,

Please note
"I guess if both of you are truly civilized and are mutual aware that the relationship has become routine with a strong element of strife or ennui, then breaking up is a shared relief."

Is followed this.
"Not often enough real world occurrance."

Also, what's with you link?
You Get
"This person has protected their tweets."
and when visiting your blog site you immediately get a pop up window to log onto Twitter.

Ah, the intrigue!

GDA, odd. I will have one of the OMG interns look into these issues. To follow me on Twitter just request it. I'm no expert in the subtleties of social networking. My blog sends you to twitter? It shouldn't.

Here's my blog:
On Twitter as owlmeatgravy and Facebook as Umberto Swarm. Look me up, join the party.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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