Table For One

Since I’m hoping to make one more trip to Boston before Christmas, and Andy will likely not want to come, I’ll probably be eating dinner alone one night. When I mentioned this to one of my co-workers, she balked and was taken aback that I would actually go into a restaurant and eat by myself. I’m not talking about sitting at the bar or grabbing a quick meal in the food court – I mean a real, sit-down dinner with full table service, time to look over the menu, and however long it takes for the meal to be prepared.

In a way, I get her surprise, and once upon a time I shared in that disbelief. Why would anyone eat in a restaurant alone? Well, why wouldn’t they? Usually I’ll have a book or a folder of writing with which to occupy my time and attention, but I’ve gone in without armor and had a perfectly nice dinner all by my lonesome, listening surreptitiously to the conversation around me or watching how the wait-staff interacts with the customers and then reacts privately when they think they’re not being seen. There’s always something entertaining going on, and even if there’s not, there is a plate of food before you.

I suppose my habit of eating alone goes back to college, when all I wanted to do was get off campus and go into the city (and not hang out with college kids). That’s also when I started going to the movies alone – a habit that continues to this day. (Not surprisingly, the movies I want to see don’t always intersect with the movies Andy wants to see, so I have no choice in the matter. And if I really want to see a movie, I don’t need it to be a social event, so I don’t tend to invite friends.) Again, I see nothing wrong with it, and rarely feel self-conscious.

That said, it is easier to melt into the crowd at the movies than at a restaurant, and there are certain restaurants where I would not dare to eat by myself. For instance, I won’t do it in a fancy or formal place where everyone’s arrival is noted and judged – and I do try to go earlier in the evening to avoid a big crowd.

Of course, it’s easier to eat alone when you know you have someone waiting for you at home, so I’m not going to pretend that doesn’t matter. It’s a choice in that respect. My real admiration is for those who eat alone because they’ve reached the point where they’re okay being alone. Society frowns on the singles of a certain age, judging those who dare to enjoy a decent meal on their own, and the stigma attached to solo diners is something I will always fight against.

For me, it’s a reassertion of my independence. It reminds me of a time before Andy, and while I don’t necessarily want to go back to a time without Andy, it’s nice to know that I can still go out by myself and be all right being alone. There is power in that, and it led to a belief in myself that enables me to get through the weaker moments.

Back to Blog
Back to Blog