I'm not sure why my student wants her lesson in Joyfull, a busy family restaurant. I met her first at her house, she has a huge house, and no-one it in - daughter moved out, son at school all day, husband passed away ten years ago. Maybe there were grandparents hiding somewhere, who knows. But her living room was bigger than some people's apartments, and had this... thing... in it. A corner of the room walled off with glass, with a sunken floor and sofas around the four sides of the square that resulted. I couldn't quite figure out what the architect had in mind (and yes, this was the type of house that most definitely came from the mind of an architect, not the pages of a house company brochure), but it seemed ideal for English conversation, as did the coffee table bigger than some people's cars.
But she preferred to drive into town, get a table at Joyfull, pay for drink bar tickets for both of us (which is why I am still awake, still buzzing on the cappuccino), and natter away at our booth, hopefully not disturbing the neighboring diners too much. At first I found it both a bit embarrassing, and limiting - I couldn't really connect the 'quiet dining' persona with the 'outgoing English teacher' persona, who is a lot louder! But over time, I got used to it, to just talking normally, neither too quiet nor too loud.
Unlike our fellow diners tonight.
First of all, we were sitting next to a booth containing high school girls. To tell the truth, they were actually quite well behaved, but you just can't have high school girls anywhere without squealing and loud laughter happening at least a few times. There were kids, of course, being a family restaurant at the start of the summer holidays, but the crying baby, dancing kindergartener and loud requests from the kids at the table in the corner were NOTHING on Loud Guy and Nasty Guy.
Loud Guy was apparent from the start of the night - everyone in the place knew he ordered a cheese-in hamburger. Nasty Guy was sitting with a very quiet wife, son (?in-law) and daughter (?-in-law) and kid, who all looked very cowed, but I didn't notice him until he and Loud Guy started arguing - I didn't hear the whole exchange but it included one telling the other to be mindful of the other customers with that loud voice, then both of them calling each other stupid. I should add Japanese almost never have public confrontations like this. Like everyone else, I very quietly pretended it wasn't happening. Except to take a peek at the protagonists the next time I filled up my Pepsi (not happy with the drink bar selection, by the way).
Finally both lots left, to be replaced by a table full of loud teenage BOYS - much to the delight of the table of high school girls, but not such good news for us! The last thing we did in the lesson was list verbs saying what we are doing right now: sitting, studying etc. I added 'listening to very loud customers' and my student laughed, then Nasty Guy slumped past the window outside on his way to the car park. Grumpy, I said, which resulted in me and my student both looking up the word for a Japanese definition. And me finding this
I swear, the guy looked EXACTLY like this. Whereupon student and I joined the noise and giggled our way out of the lesson!