Recently, a friend and I had a phone conversation about eating alone at restaurants. He does it all the time. He calls it "Taking myself out to dinner," and I'm sure he gets lucky at the end of the evening, too.
I realized that I rarely go out to eat alone. If I'm by myself, I'll pick up something to go. I didn't think it was because I was uncomfortable or self-conscious, I just figured sitting in a restaurant alone was a waste of time.
He kept telling me how nice it is. He brings his iPod and listens to a good podcast or brings a book and enjoys the meal alone.
Maybe I was self-conscious. I guess deep down, I didn't want people staring at me thinking, "She must not have any friends," but then I thought about people I may have seen alone at restaurants and I never thought that about them.
Actually, I couldn't remember the last time I noticed someone eating alone. I normally don't pay attention to others in restaurants unless they do something to make me notice them.
Saturday, I was out at Barnes & Noble picking up a new book when I realized I hadn't eaten all day and I was starved.
This was a perfect opportunity to try out this whole eating alone thing. I also had several hours worth of Jim Rome podcasts that were piling up so this was a perfect time to catch up on that as well.
I drove to my favorite little sushi place and noticed about 3 or 4 other diners sitting alone. These were my people!
I was seated by the window and no one looked at me twice.
I ordered my seaweed salad, my pieces of sushi and a roll and listened to Jim Rome and loved every moment of it.
It was to be able to go to whatever restaurant I wanted without having to take anyone else into consideration. No one ever REALLY wants to go eat sushi with me, they tolerate it and order a Japanese meal if I can persuade them. I was able to eat without guilt. It was nice, also, to eat without conversation.
I love to talk as much as the next gal but sometimes I just want to shut up and enjoy the silence or the ambient noises....or in this case, the sound of Jim Rome.
A lady sat across the restaurant reading her book while she enjoyed her meal. Two other people sat, separately, at the bar watching the plasma screen TV.
Everyone was doing there own thing, couples chatting, groups of friends laughing and the lone diners, reading, listening to their podcasts or catching up on the news for the day.
I thought about this lone-dining phenomenon and wondered how many people do this regularly.
This morning I started searching the internet and found whole websites dedicated to the dining alone experience.
One website had lists of "loner-friendly" restaurants and one had a tongue-in-cheek guide to eating alone.
There is a forum for single people appropriately called Single Life. One woman declared that she was too self-conscious to eat alone. Did anyone have that same problem and how do you solve it.
From what I read, not many had any good solutions, they just shared their own experiences. Most of the people who didn't like eating by themselves said the same thing, "I feel like everyone is staring at me".
I don't know why we care so much about what total strangers think of us but after my purposely positive dining alone experience, I think I'll be making this a regular date.
Hey...at least I KNOW I'll get lucky at the end of the evening!