Location: Cheshire, Connecticut, United States

devilishly handsome, screamingly funny, overly modest

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Dining Alone

As I was driving home from work today, I listened to Eric Casillias (sp.) on ESPN radio blithering on about his dislike (fear?) of eating alone in a restaurant. I've also heard many women echo that same aversion, so I decided to spend some time musing about this phenomenon here on my blog.

What would spark this solo dining phobia (monorestaurantitis)? I thought at first that entering the large restaurant doors might be a metaphorical return to the womb. Should there then be a negative correlation between people suffering from this syndrome and those with an Edipus Complex? Is the maternal connection too strong to allow the average person to eat comfortably without the assistance of a companion? It's definitely food for thought (pun unintended).

Another possibility is waiterphobia (maitrephobie,en Francais), the confusion of your server's persona with that of a circus clown (by whom nearly everyone is terrified from early childhood on). I dismissed this theory since it has been my experience that clown-like attributes are far more likely to be found in my dinner companions than my waiter- which would make it actually preferable to dine unaccompanied. My apologies to a lifetime of dining companions, but in your hearts you know it's true.

Another character trait of people who hate to dine alone is that they are under the mistaken impression that other restaurant patrons are watching them. Not only do they feel that they're being observed, but that somehow judgment is being passed. They hear the silent unasked question "Why is he/she eating alone? Isn't she/he good enough to rate a companion?". I'd like to point out that that question would never arise if you were looking at, say, Charlize Theron. So if you suffer from this syndrome, you either have an inferiority complex (in which case it doesn't matter whether people are talking, you still need a shrink) or you are actually as unattractive and boring as you think, in which case people are probably passing the judgments you were worrying about and you still need that shrink. If you're looking for a solution to this quandry, you'll have to try another blog.

I myself love to eat alone. I can ogle to my heart's content. I can strike up conversations with complete strangers (one of my favorite pastimes). I can crack ice without my wife glaring at me. I can overtip the cute waitress and fantasize that she'll follow me out the door, possibly to Bermuda. I can tell Atkins to go to hell and munch non-guiltily on pecan pie (I love pecan pie more than dinner companions, except for Charlize Theron))

But most of all I like to dine alone for one overriding reason-- I REALLY love the company.



Blogger JD said...

I agree pecan pie should be enjoyed without distraction. No two forks approach, either. But there's no blither in dining alone. Me thinks you protest too much.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Brett said...

Are you trying to suggest something? Would you prefer eating at The Bistro by yourself?

6:39 AM  
Anonymous colleen said...

I'm a pretty self-conscious person, but I don't mind eating alone at all. I think if someone has a hang-up about it they should prop a newspaper up near their face.

My friend Fred just published a book via his blog entries. Maybe I am writing another book in this way. Who knows what will come of it, if anything. I do have to start taking Sundays off again though!

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work
» » »

4:39 PM  
Anonymous anita said...

this is one of my (kinda) favorite topics.

after a very difficult break-up, i ultimately realized that the only thing i REALLY missed about my ex-boyfriend was the fact that we went to a lot of excellent restaurants together. i had developed a pretty sophisticated palate in the six years we were together, and i was not going to allow myself to sink into culinary despair or have deal with very bad salads.

so, given the above, i will share with you here a couple of my 'dining alone' coping tools ...

1. location, location, location. insist on a seat near a window or off to the side of the restaurant. the window gives you something to look at, and sitting off to the side ensures that you won't feel awkward between two couples holding hands and oogling each other in the candlelight.

2. and if you don't feel comfortable in a certain location, do not hesitate to ask to be seated at a different table. even if you have to wait awhile for a where you feel less awkward, it's worth it. stand your ground on this. solitary diners are often given the short shrift (sp?) when it comes to location (near the kitchen, etc.) and, hey, that 'just ain't fair' and let the proprietors of the restaurant know it.

3. always have a book or magazine with you. not that it's always necessary, but a book, to me, is always better than a dog in being one's best friend. reading material keeps the awkward moments at bay.

4. don't dine alone on 'date nights' or after 9PM at restaurants that can be perceived as having a 'romantic' atmosphere. be realistic. one can only be so courageous, and dining alone on a saturday night can just plain masochistic. early friday is usually ok, and sunday works too, but saturday night ... fuggedaboudit.

5. tip well. when you return the wait staff will remember you and and will often take special care of their solitary diner.

(hmmm ... i'm thinking now i should expand this into book form ... sorry for the rambling response ...)

4:56 PM  
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