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Flickr: zorbs

It’s that time of year again when restaurants break out the patio furniture in anticipation of the coming warming weather. Of course, patios come in all shapes and sizes. But one thing they all have in common is that you are definitely at the mercy of the weather gods (and other natural and human-occurring annoyances) when you choose to sit on a restaurant patio. Here are a few things you might want to consider before asking the hostess to be seated outside.

1) Is That a Rain Cloud?

Like I mentioned, dining on patios during the months of April and May can be a risky endeavor, even in warmer climes. Springtime is known for fast-moving storm clouds that can leave you and your crusty baguette soaked. And often times, when you give up your inside table to be seated outside, you are truly left out in the cold when the dining room fills up and the weather turns to shit. So, don’t forget to bring your rain gear if you decide to sit on a patio this spring.

2) Those Damn Birds!

Many restaurants have sunbrellas (or rainbrellas) on their patios, or they are completely covered, which doesn’t always save you from spring’s sideways rain. (I’m talking about the Pacific Northwest in particular). But a covered table doesn’t protect you from those pesky birds, especially seagulls. Is that crème fraiche in my crab bisque? No, it’s a big splat of bird shit. Plus, birds, especially blackbirds, are notorious for making off with car keys and small bites of food while you are in the restroom.

3) Honey, There’s a Rat On Your Leg!

Some cities, like Seattle and San Francisco, have bad rat problems. Let’s face it, no restaurant can guarantee that a rodent won’t make its way onto the patio while you and your date are sipping Chardonnay and eating a bucket of steamed clams. There are not many things less appetizing than seeing a filthy rat scurrying from table to table looking for fallen scraps–rats are brazen creatures. Or, even worse is being downwind from one of those black boxes of death, often tucked away in a corner, with rotting rat carcasses.

4) You’re Buggin’ Man

Springtime isn’t full-on bug season, but dining outside can be dangerous in this day and age, considering the recent proliferation of hornets and West Nile Virus-carrying mosquitoes. No sunbrella can protect you from a mosquito hatch, which is prevalent on patios because many are on lakes and rivers–prime mosquito habitat. But those barely noticeable walls of gnats can be worse because they often end up in your mouth when you attempt to take a bite of food. And those fully packed hornet traps, which often hang on patios, aren’t so appealing, either.

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