I was just watching a news show on TV this evening, and the host happened to mention that there is a list compiled from someone who obviously has nothing better to do than canvas diners about what their pet “dining out” peeves are. Number One on this particular list: “The Sad Solo Diner.”
Really?? Number One? Does this mean that each time I take myself out to lunch or dinner along with a favorite book that some of the other diners are sorry for me? Do they think that all people eating alone are sad losers who have no family or friends? Kind of an assumption, don’t you think?
This reminds me of a story about a stay-at-home mom who was juggling four active kids and a husband. Without warning or notice, she took herself out to dinner alone. She was gone for about an hour and a half. In that time, her family dissolved into mayhem, outrage, and general disarray.
When she got home, her kids and husband surrounded her, all yelping ‘where were you?’ ‘When’s dinner?’ ‘Where did you go?’ ‘Why were you gone so long’, and so forth. She addressed them all, saying:
“I went out for dinner by myself. I enjoyed a lovely meal of liver and grilled onions, a baked potato stuffed with sour cream, bacon and cheese, a side of roasted asparagus and a hot fudge sundae for dessert. Nobody bothered me, no one tipped their milk over, no one yelled or screamed or threw food, no one demanded I get up and get them seconds of this or that, no one complained, no one looked at my liver and onions and said, ‘ewwwwwwwww–I’m not eating THAT!’ It was the nicest meal I’ve had in years.”
Her family was thunderstruck. As she walked out into the kitchen, she tossed this comment over her shoulder:
“You know, I enjoyed that so much, I may do it again. And again. And I won’t tell you when I’m going.” Things changed after that, and quick.
So, that’s just one example of why someone may be eating alone. There are many. I am positive that there are in fact many folks who eat alone who would like to be with someone else, or who are lonely and feel conspicuous eating alone. They have my sympathy. But I’m not one of them.
I absolutely adore eating out alone, also going to movies by myself. I’m very happily married (to the Crankee Yankee), but there are times he is off doing his own thing or just doesn’t feel like seeing a movie. So–I go alone, and enjoy it immensely. And eating out alone, ordering whatever I want and reading a book, is sheer heaven. I get it that many wait people look askance at the solo diner. After all, many solos are notoriously bad tippers, one of the many “types” who frequent restaurants.
Having waitressed my way through college, I am well-versed in dining folk types:
- The bad tipper
- The annoying couple who send you back eleventy-seven times for piddly stuff (when they could have asked for EVERYTHING at one time)
- The table hogs who never leave, meaning you can’t turn that table over all night
- The ditsy parents who don’t notice that their kid is tearing around the restaurant like a mini maddened bull elephant, disrupting everyone’s evening
- The sloppy drunk
- The puker (yes, really)
- The two sweet little old ladies who still think that .50 is a good tip (bless ’em)
- The infamous groper who grabs a lot and tips very little
- The woman who likes to bully all wait staff for fun (and BTW–wouldn’t you think she’d be smart enough not to piss off the people who are in close contact behind closed doors with her food?)
I love being a solo diner, and I tip well. I’m having too much fun to be cheap.
To assume that someone who has dinner alone in a restaurant is somehow an object of pity is just beyond me. And to the author of that list? Buddy, you owe this solo diner a bottle of wine. GOOD wine.