A meal isn't a meal without a cell phone.
You need to photograph the food and get it onto your Twitter feed, before any of the other diners does the same. It isn't called A Twitter "feed" for nothing, you know.
You need to be able to Google "the collected works of Al Green," just in case there's a dispute about who wrote "Let's Stay Together."
And you need it to go on Wine Spectator's site to check just how many points this haughty little Grenache Noir might have earned for its reticence.
Then along comes some upstart restaurant in, of all places, Los Angeles to try and take your iPhone away from you. Worse, this place is prepared to bribe you.
This is not merely an affront to modern liberty, but a manipulative attempt to a force another painful choice on an already harassed world.
Do I care more about money or my reputation among my Twitter followers? Do I care more about a natural conversation with the one I love or being able to look more intelligent in her presence by Googling information when she's in the restroom?
Worse, will the 5 percent discount incite me to spend a little more on the wine, making me look more sophisticated in the eyes of my soon-to-be-betrothed (I hope)?
The restaurant itself offers mealy-mouthed cover for its offer.
Owner/Chef Mark Gold told KPCC radio: "For us, it's really not about people disrupting other guests. Eva is home, and we want to create that environment of home, and we want people to connect again."
Oh, Mark. Have the onion-fumes got into your eyes to such a degree that you aren't aware that the only place to connect is on Facebook? How can your customers peruse their vast swathes of amity, if you bribe them to leave their cell phones with Henri from Hoboken (at least he told you he's from Hoboken)?
Then there's this notion of your restaurant being home. You're in L.A. You're on Beverly Boulevard. The concept of "home" there is about as foreign as the concepts of sincerity, altruism and the nose with which you were born.
Gold claims that around half his customers take up the offer. These people would be called producers. They give him their phone, they take the 5 percent, and they have another phone stashed in their trouser-pocket upon which they can dial, activate speakerphone and Google blind.
I am sure that Gold has good intentions. He told KPCC that he wants people to care about each other and enjoy the food and service.
But, really, wouldn't he have been wiser to offer 5 percent for toupee removal or 10 percent for no film talk?
As I was saying to my good friend George the other night over dinner at Sushi Ran: "The thing that really ruins a meal is the other people in the restaurant, isn't it?"
That was just before I got 10 texts from my ex telling me I'm a nincompoop, a ninny and a no-good, nostril-haired narcissist. I replied to them all, of course.