Sunday, September 03, 2006

Flyin' Solo

I've never eaten alone in a restaurant. Why? I think probably because when I see people (more specifically, OLD people) sitting alone, it makes my heart hurt. My mind makes up little scenarios in which they're sad, their families have abandoned them and they have nobody to eat with. The Boyfriend, on the other hand, enjoys eating alone and does it well as seeing movies by himself. So this morning, I was bouncy, and he was not awake. I'd gone to bed early, he'd been up until 4 am. I wanted biscuits, he didn't really give a crap about biscuits.

He suggested I go to Chris' Pancake House, a neighborhood place that's less than a block away, and eat by myself. Hmm. What is it that makes me uncomfortable about that suggestion? Seriously, if someone chooses to eat alone, they must have some level of comfort. If they felt sad at a table alone, they could stay at home and make/order food. My own perception of what constitutes "loneliness" is my main hang-up. I ASSUME that someone is lonely just because they're alone. Keep in mind, I'm fully aware of feeling lonely while in a crowd of people that care about me.

After little discussion, I was convinced.

I think The Boyfriend knew how to get me sold on the idea. "You can be whoever you want! You could be a business person in town for a meeting, or maybe someone just finishing your shift on the East Side (ie. strip clubs)". I did have at least $18.00 in ones in my purse. Interesting, I could be whomever I want. The irony is that when I am out of town on business without a co-worker, I usually eat my McDonald’s Cobb salad and Oreo McFlurry in my hotel room, watching HBO’s “Hookers on the Point”.

I set some rules for myself, a list of "Do's and Don'ts", if you will:

DON'T: Explain why you're there under any circumstance. Tell nobody that you have a super sexy Boyfriend in bed sleeping, and that this is a personal experiment.
DO: Hold your head high and appear relaxed (when I concentrate I can seem a little gloomy, must concentrate on keeping a small grin on my face...which may actually come off as a bit creepy).

DON'T: Rush eating my food, then grab the check, pay, and scamper out with my tail between my legs.
DO: Linger after eating and stay until my place is cleared, leisurely finishing my coffee and water.

DON'T: Scrape the bottom of my butter container - that just seems like a good policy for me when eating alone - there's something kind of desperate about clinging to that last ounce of buttery goodness.
DO: Eat deliberately, look around, and take home whatever I don't eat (that was tagged on because I figured The Boyfriend would be scrounging for food by the time I made it back).

DON’T: No books or magazines!
DO: Become a part of the environment – no fidgeting or acting self-conscious.

Ok, now to put the plan in action. I walked across the street and entered the place. As usual, it was packed. I approached the host and held up my pointy finger, "One please". I was taken immediately to my table, apparently single tables were in low demand. I was seated at the last table in the "row of shame" (I made that up, I'm 99.7% sure they don't call it that). Above is a picture of the inside of the restaurant. I've made a small white circle where I sat.

Anywho, there are three tables against the wall that lead to the kitchen and bathroom. I had the last one, with my lone eating companions being two grossly overweight middle-aged men that looked freakishly alike.

So far, so good.

I ordered coffee and noticed a young server give me a strange smile with her eyebrows slightly furrowed. She was the only one that seemed to notice my lack of companionship. I realize now that I may be the individual that gives a weak smile to people when they're contentedly dining alone (note to self: stop doing that, it's really annoying).

Elderly people streamed in and were seated together, while I realized I was glad they were not in the “row of shame”. Servers greeted them as they walked by, obviously they were regulars. "HEY, why do they get plates of delicious-looking little cookies!?!" I've gotten them in the past, why not now? Shouldn't the lonely chick get cookies?!?!” They're really not on my healthy eating plan, but it's the principle, really.

Anyway, my service was fast and it diminished my pain at not having delicious tiny cookies. It occurred to me that I didn't need to wait around for anyone else’s order...just my veggie omelet, hash browns, and biscuits. I ate one biscuit, and a couple bites of omelet (they needed some SERIOUS doctoring, meaning cheese - that's what I get for trying to be healthy).

I got my check, sat for a few minutes, absorbed one more look from the sympathetic server, paid my bill and walked back home.

And yes, I paid in all ones.

(Anyone wondering the fate of my leftovers should be rest-assured, The Boyfriend added cheddar cheese and hot sauce to the omelet, then gobbled it up)


Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

Did you change the face on the photo some time after you originally published this post? Because I read it a few days ago, I didn't notice your face on the … ahem … the model.

3:32 PM  
Blogger elanflux said...

Q has obviously never seen you naked. Clearly this pic is an original.
I'm very proud and UBA amused by your little adventure!
I have to say that I wouldn't have been able to go in without reading material.

2:30 AM  
Anonymous Pusher said...

I eat alone and with others. I guess I never thought about all that you have about the appearance of eating alone. Now I will be conscience of what I may look like to others. Thanks for your entertaining blogs.

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate eating alone, always have. I would rather go through a drive-up and take my food back to the solitude of my abode. I would go to a place like Denny's though, only if I had a RFT or a book. It's funny....has anyone ever met Denny?

8:34 AM  

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