There is something rather discomfiting about a single woman dining alone. For some odd reason I’ve always followed this obscure and unwritten code of etiquette that forbids that. And I actually have no earthly idea why.
The other day I was at Pier 1 looking around. There is a Ron’s Hamburger restaurant right behind it in The Farm Shopping Center. You know I have no idea why it’s called The Farm Shopping Center. Nothing about it summons up thoughts of a farm.
Anyway, I was hungry. I looked over at Ron’s and decided maybe I’d get one of their burgers for lunch. Typically I will put in an order somewhere, if it isn’t a drive-thru, and take my food home to eat.
Then it occurred to me that in all of my 62 years I had never, that I could recall, gone into a restaurant and eaten a meal by myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve said that I enjoy eating alone. But it has never really dawned on me to just go into a restaurant and eat there.
Men dine alone all the time. There is no doctrine anywhere that says women must have a companion to dine in an eating establishment.
I had a sudden light bulb flashing in your face moment. And then it occurred to me. Why haven’t I done this before? What was stopping me?
I happened to be the first person there, it only being a bit after 11 a.m. So I sat down in a comfy booth, looked at the menu, and ordered a meal.
It wasn’t anything fancy. Just a burger, their scrumptious fries and an iced tea. However it will, in my memory, forever be known as the first meal I ate alone in a restaurant.
Is this an age as well as a gender concept, do you think? I know many of you have remarked that you go to the movies alone. Is it just me who’s felt uncomfortable about doing this?
I have to admit that it felt a bit sophisticated (silly, I know) to sit in that booth in a hamburger joint, albeit a good one, by myself. I did not have a book or a magazine to read. And I don’t use a smart phone, so I wasn’t scrolling that.
I didn’t attempt to look busy to distract from the fact that I was dining without a companion. There was something rather gratifying about it in fact.
I simply sat there like the older grown up woman that I am, enjoying a meal by myself. With my big girl pants on. Doing something I’d never done before.
I felt like I’d graduated to a new level in my life as a single woman. It wasn’t that I’d had a Helen Reddy hear me roar moment or anything. Maybe it was just something I needed to prove to myself.
I didn’t feel awkward, as I suppose I once assumed I would.
I’m just a 62 year old woman who suddenly realized that there is nothing at all awkward about dining alone in a restaurant. And now I will no longer avoid doing this.
If I’m hungry, I will just walk right in and choose a seat and relax. I won’t need anything to distract from the fact that I’m alone, such as reading a book as I await my meal. No, I will just act like I’ve been doing this all my life.
An older man came in then, their second customer of the day, and sat down a few tables away. He did not look uneasy about being alone. I’m sure it is probably something he’s probably been doing his entire adult life.
So where did I get this idea that a woman eating alone wasn’t acceptable?
I feel rather silly actually. This should never have been a big deal. There’s nothing at all wrong with eating alone in a restaurant. You go in, order, eat your food, put a tip on the table and pay for your meal.
There’s nothing at all grand or unusual about it. Except for years it was. For me anyway. I had inexplicably followed this unwritten rule all my life. That single women look lonely when dining alone.
And it wasn’t that way at all. In fact it was a pleasant experience. And now that the glass ceiling in my head has been broken, I plan to do it again.