Day 91: Go out to dinner alone

December 3, 2010 § 2 Comments

While working on an article about health inspections earlier this week, I spoke with a woman who said  she eats out 40 to 50 times a month. This would then mean that most days she goes out to eat for two meals.While discussing this with a friend, we came to the conclusion that while it may be relatively normal to see someone at a restaurant alone for breakfast or lunch, to see someone alone at dinner is just sad.

So, when Stephanie told me she had class until 10 tonight, I decided I would try it.

I went to Sweet Tomatoes, a soup/salad buffet, because I thought it would be more awkward if I went to a place mostly occupied by families. I filled up my tray, sat down at a table with four chairs and read my Kindle.

At first it was relaxing to slowly eat my food and concentrate on the book. I felt a strange freedom that’s hard to put into words. To be honest, I didn’t really get any sympathetic looks. It was as if I was invisible.

It was sort of thrilling to see all the grandparents/parents/children deep in conversation at the other tables and know that my existence was meaningless to everyone in the restaurant. I don’t mean that in a negative sense – it was liberating. I was tied to nothing.

But then a middle-aged man in a thick winter coat and sweat pants sat down at the table to my left. He too was alone, but our experience didn’t seem to be the same. He had no book. He just sat there and ate. There was something so melancholy about the whole thing that I began to feel guilty for having enjoyed the solitude. I finished my coffee and left.

Maybe the lesson here is not to take companionship for granted. Or maybe it’s that time alone is only a luxury to the young. Either way, I think next time I’ll bring a friend.


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