Dining Alone

The Elephant, Torquay

As busy as I’ve been lately, the husband has been twice as frantic. He told me so. 

Him being double busy is how I ended up eating dinner by myself last month. Out in public, where there were OTHER ACTUAL PEOPLE. I forgave him once I’d reminded myself that his busyness was probably harder on him than it was on me, he was probably more tired and it probably wasn’t a personal slight against me. Marriage advice there folks: now and again it’s NOT all about you! The rest of the time it most definitely is.

Weirdly, I was a bit afraid to eat alone. I talk a good confident woman talk and I’ll happily throw myself into all kinds of solo adventures without fear but there was just something so very conspicuous about sitting at the table alone. I felt a bit exposed, in a really bad way.

Being waited on at a fully laid table felt frivolous and grandiose; let’s face it, if I’m eating alone at home we’re lucky if the Pot Noodle is allowed to cool enough before I pour it straight down my throat whilst praying I don’t get third degree burns.

The thought of going through the ritual of perusing the menu without comparing choices or bartering over who orders what so you get to try a bit of everything was weird and unsettling.

In short the whole experience freaked me out a bit.

Once I’d stopped over thinking it and double checked that I didn’t have snot on my face or knickers tucked into my skirt (‘no need to give the voyeurs more reason to voir’ whispered the narcissist inside, who was of course convinced that no-one had anything better to do than look at me…)I started to enjoy myself.

Armed with a large glass of wine, a cracking book and my trusty canine companions I sat, I relaxed, I watched the world pass by, by which I mean I eavesdropped on some BRILLIANT conversations and people watched incessantly over the top of my book. Instead of feeling conspicuous, I started to feel invisible and oddly empowered. I think my soul enjoyed being anonymous and pretending it was an astronaut or a real writer or just a crazy dog lady on an adventure (minimal pretence required, granted). It enjoyed making small talk with strangers. It enjoyed ordering precisely what it wanted to eat a full portion of without sharing and it enjoyed being leisurely over eating it. It enjoyed having a bit of space to read and breathe and just be.

I haven’t had dinner out by myself in the longest time and it turned out to be most excellent. Turns out no one cares too much about the woman on her own in the corner, shoveling down fish and chips like it’s going out of fashion and staring. Once you get your head around that, it’s bloody good fun.

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