Damn right, it’s a table for one.

Posted on
Jan 21, 2010

I just read the dumbest article on Yahoo! Shine. Of course, given that I was actually reading an article on Yahoo! Shine, I suppose I deserved the ensuing assault on my intellect.

You can read the entire article here. But I wouldn’t, as I had to use a great deal of willpower to not jab myself in the eye with a spoon after reading it. It is entitled, I SHIT YOU NOT, “How Not to Feel Humiliated While Dining Alone.” It features a photo of an attractive woman looking dubiously at a book.

Of course, what the article presupposes is that eating alone is grounds for humiliation. Humiliation that is so extreme, they provide not one, but eight brilliant solutions as to how to avoid the clearly miserable situation of being seen without a husband in public (okay – maybe I’m reading into it a bit. But not much). Perhaps my favorite is number 6, which encourages you to pretend to be interested in whatever sports game is playing on the tv in order to give yourself “a sense of purpose” (after all, what woman would actually care about sports!).

Besides reading like it was written by Betty Draper, the article bugged me because I didn’t really understand what the hell they were talking about. Don’t get me wrong: I love having company when I do just about anything (just about). I’m one of those girls who will leave for the bathroom in packs of three. I talk to my husband while he’s in the shower. I offer to hold friends’ hair when they puke. I don’t mind being around people, even under less-than-ideal circumstances. But I’ve learned to appreciate time alone.

And the more I travel, the less it feels like time alone. Sure, Rand is with me at the end of the day, but when I’m roaming around a foreign city by my lonesome, it’s almost as though he’s still there. I take photos, think about about the blog posts I’ll write and the things I’ll tell him about. I enjoy the time I share with people I’ll never see again on public transportation or in museums. I don’t ever feel truly alone, and if I did, I doubt I would find the experience “humiliating.” Instead, I kind of think of it as badass.

So, of course, that extends to dining as well. When I’m out eating by myself (which happens all the time, if Rand is at a meeting or a conference), I talk to waitstaff, smile at other patrons (many of whom are – gasp! – on their own as well), and watch people passing by. I enjoy being, for even a little while, part of a city that I don’t know all that well. It’s kind of wonderful. And I don’t need a friggin crappy ass guide to tell me how to avoid being humiliated by the experience.

Plus, when you eat with people, they expect you to share both your wine and your nearly-as-tall-as-the-wine-bottle slice of cake. Weak.

Plus, when you eat with people, they expect you to share both your wine and your nearly-as-tall-as-the-wine-bottle slice of cake. Weak.

For that matter, I don’t need someone to tell me to pretend to care about sports, either. And while I could go off on a sports-related tangent about how I really want to see Peyton Manning and the Colts spank the Jets this weekend, even though, seriously, it should have been the Chargers in the divisional championship because poor Sanchez is totally out of his element as a rookie (though give him a couple years and I think he’ll be pretty damn good), and I honestly hope that Peyton doesn’t end up playing down to the Jets like Rivers did last weekend, which TOTALLY BLEW, I will instead say this: Yahoo! Shine kinda sucks.

Now I’m off to grab a bite to eat. By, gasp, myself.

Leave a Comment

  • Having given up on the NFL several years ago, I’m afraid the only image I was able to conjure after your Peyton Manning “spanking” comment is remarkably unsavory. I will leave it at that.

    I’m with you on going it alone sometimes. While I love the company of my family and my friends (some of whom I don’t think I will see again until April …) I like the feeling of disappearing into an environment. It’s especially fun in a place where I don’t speak/read the language and have to guess my way around. Just getting to my destination is sort of exhilarating. Even if that destination is just the 7-11.

    It is also possible that I am too easily amused.

    • Geraldine

      Also, Philip, I, too, gave up on the NFL. But each time I think I’m out, etc., etc.

  • Dining alone should NEVER feel humiliating with one exception – your spouse is seated in the same restaurant with someone else.

    • Geraldine

      I believe that bumping into your spouse on a date would constitute a situation that the kids would describe as “major awk.”

  • I’m not sure why each of the Everywhereist’s blog posts must end in a discussion about the NFL but since this one is no exception, allow me to say, “Vikings!!!”.

  • And regarding Giant Slab o’ Cake; I trust you picked the whole thing up by the knife handle and just started chomping on it, like Henry VIII with a leg of mutton.

  • Geraldine

    I did eat most of it.

  • Geraldine

    P.S. – I <3 the Vikings, esp this year. Is it my lingering affection for Farve? Perhaps. But I'd love to see them in the Superbowl, even though the Saints are brilliant and make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

  • Christine

    I so agree with you, both on the dining alone topic and your football analysis. I spent five weeks in Europe by myself once, and it was heavenly. Some nights I’d meet cool people (usually fellow American travelers) while eating alone, and other nights I’d just sit back and people watch. At no time, however, did I feel humiliated. The closest I ever came was terrified when I stayed at a hotel an hour outside of Prague, and the manager didn’t speak English. He brought me this huge plate of dubious-looking food, and I had to eat the whole thing in order to prevent an international incident. Oh well. C’est la vie.

    Since that trip, I’ve eaten alone more times than I can count. It’s fun. The Betty Drapers of the world need to broaden their horizons a bit.

  • Who wouldn’t love to eat that cake all by him/herself? I agree with you totally 🙂

  • I agree – if people feel that awkward dining alone, they just shouldn’t do it. Isn’t that why room service was invented?

    On the occasions that I’m traveling (and dining) alone, I like to pick somewhere with a ‘view’ – even if that’s just a view of the restaurant so I can people watch. If there’s not a patio table available with a nice outdoor view, then I’ll ask for a table in the back so I can watch the other patrons. Must be the voyeur in me.

    Oh another thing I like to do is to take notes while I’m eating…..often the waitstaff will assume I’m doing a ‘review’ and I get spectacular service.

  • Pingback: Recommended Reads: January 31, 2010 | SoloFriendly.com()

  • Dining alone is one of my favourite parts of traveling alone! I can order whatever I want without worrying what the other person will think, and I can eat as quickly or as slowly as I want (within reason). I love being able to slowly eat a meal while I read, etc, and I find that the wait staff will often strike up a conversation, which I really enjoy.

  • Sarah

    Know this post is way old…but I just had to say: right on! I recently was in Barcelona with a boyfriend, and we had an arguement, and I chose to go out to eat by myself to cool off a bit. I went into a restaurant, asked for a table for 1, and was told by the host “Sorry, we don’t serve just one person”. He was kidding, and seated me about 2 seconds later, but still…really?! Why would someone joke like that. It’s rude in the first place, never minding the fact that I was on the verge of a breakup and tears, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with dining alone and enjoying your surroundings.

    • Everywhereist

      You should have cried. I bet you would have gotten your meal comped. 🙂

  • Cynthia

    I just got back from a solo trip to the NW and hoteled, moteled, hiked, took pictures, and ate alone. Not feeling too shabby about it until I went to a cafe (almost totally empty, just after opening, in the middle of the week) where the hostess at first would only seat me outside (which was completely empty at that point) or at the equally empty bar (which was next to the door leading outside and the line up of large parties I suppose they hoped they’d soon have). I think by the incredulous look on my face she decided to relent, but then told me not to linger too long. Talk about humiliated. I did feel that way, but not because of my own preconceived notions. I decided to leave instead of giving this place my money, though the feeling of being singled out (no pun intended) was a hard one to shake. It helps when restaurants and bars (most of the ones I’ve frequented) treat all customers alike.

    • Everywhereist

      Cynthia – that is absolutely, appallingly terrible. I am glad you walked away. They don’t deserve your money. Or anyone’s money for that matter.

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