Apparently, I was tragically mistaken. When I called my friend to brag about the elegant night out by myself that I was going to have, he should have warned me of the social suicide-hanging I was going to be committing and all the horrified spectators that would be there.
– Oh, I’m so excited. I have my book and my journal and I’m going to go to this nice Italian place and just relax and have a glass of wine.
Poor, naive, me. My spirits were at the highest as a walked to the restaurant I had been dying to try. The week had been more than rough and this, this night treating myself, was my reward. I had it all planned out. Order a gourmet pizza (eat half now, save half for lunch tomorrow), a glass of Shiraz and sink into the occasion with my book and maybe a couple joyous thoughts that burst from my fingertips to my journal.
I entered the restaurant to find a man much older than me, ready to escort me to my eatery haven.
– How many tonight?
– Oh, it’s just me.
– By yourself?
– Yes. Just one for dinner, please.
I’m still smiles at this point. The man looks gravely concerned for me and takes one menu to lead me to my seat. We’re passing tables of glorious dishes and my mouth starts to water as I become even more excited. But then, all tables were turned because we made a pit stop. The host proceeds to take me to the bar and turns to me and says,
– Just one moment, miss.
…with the whole “wait-a-second” finger and everything. Then, the kicker: He asks the bartender for something, I can’t quite hear, and the exchange happens and he is now carrying four magazines.
What? No, no, I didn’t want magazines! I’m completely happy about dining by myself! I knew I would be eating by myself, this isn’t a surprise for me, I came prepared. But, nonetheless, I was seated in a prime-viewing area, with my stack of magazines set before me. People look at me and now, all of the sudden, I am completely aware of my “table-for-one”ness and mortified.
The young, attractive waiter approaches and looks at me with a bit of curiosity before asking,
– Can I get a drink for you, miss?
– Gin and Tonic… Make it a double actually.
Forget wine, this catastrophe calls for hard liquor.
All of the sudden, Mr. G&T and I are playing the waiting game. How long does it take to make one pizza? I gotta get the hell out of here! People are staring and my stack of magazines is mocking me. I just want to say out loud, “I do have friends! People actually really like me!” But I don’t. I just sit there and take it.
And I might as well read these magazines because, let’s face it, I’m not about to pull out the book I brought. It may or may not have been of the Harry Potter persuasion. Not that there’s anything wrong with a full-grown woman reading Harry Potter, at all, but I felt the judgement was heightened in that dining room that night.
So, what are my choices? National Geographic, March 2009, Grazia (what the hell?), April 6, 2009, TIME, March 16, 2009 and another National Geographic, December 2008.
Well this is good. Dad’s always telling me that I don’t read enough National Geographic and if that kitchen doesn’t hustle a little bit, I might be able to get through both of these.
I scan through the magazines, while I make eye contact with my waiter from across the restaurant and give him the “‘nother one a these”, as I point to my drink glass. At least they put me next to a window, so I have some place to gaze without the disapproving, confusing look of another diner coming back. Oh, look, a runner. How nice. Running – a completely acceptable activity to do by yourself. Another runner passes. Should I be running? No, I should be drinking this newly delivered Gin and Tonic.
My delicious pizza arrived and I’m not sure if it was the alcohol that boosted my hunger or the emotional-eater in me, but I finished that whole damn pizza… by myself. I was eating by myself, in case you were wondering.
So there I am, sitting with an empty plate, my third drink and some great National Geographics, when I find myself surprisingly excited about the music selection they have going on in this place. It’s not long before I find myself singing out loud,
– Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies!
Oh man, it is time to go.
– Hey, sweetheart, can I get the check please?
The kid was more than happy to bring me my bill and get the crazy-drunk-who-eats-by-herself on out of the restaurant.
I tipped generously and made my exit as I gave the host one last, “Thanks a lot for that, pal” smile. When I found myself standing on the sidewalk, a bit more inebriated than planned, I decided it would be a good idea to hit up a coffee shop and sit for a while before the rest of my walk home. Besides, coffee shops are more than welcoming to the single attender.
I came away from my date with myself feeling like I had learned so much about the important things in life: Did you know that the Pilosaur, a marine reptile of the Jurassic period, was as big as a bus and had teeth the size of bananas?!