Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dining Alone

I remember the first time I ever ate at a sit down restaurant by myself. I was in college and the restaurant was Bertucci's in Kenmore Square, Boston.  A friend of mine was a waitress there, and I decided to go visit her and have her wait on me.  I guess I wasn't really alone since I knew someone else in the restaurant :) I even remember what I ate, a baked sea scallop dish topped with bread crumbs.  It no longer appears to be on the menu.  Just goes to show how ingrained that experience is in my memory.  I always struggled with dining alone in college, and until that fateful day when I walked into Bertucci's and asked for a table for one, I wouldn't even eat in the dining hall by myself, unless I was at the brink of starvation and couldn't find anyone else to go with, and even then I would run in and out so no one would see me alone.  Why is it that so many people fear dining out alone?  Even going to movies alone turned into quite a habit in college and in the years since, as I learned that I can't always convince someone to see a movie with me, if they really have no intention to see it, or if everyone I know had already seen it.  Why should I miss out?

In one of my favorite episodes of Sex and the City, "They Shoot Single People, Don't They?," Carrie contemplates the fear behind being single, being alone, and being alone in public.  Samantha is stood up for a date, without any of her dining-alone armor (newspapers, books, etc), and is humiliated.  At the end of the episode Carrie takes herself out to lunch without any of this armor.  She sits there alone, in her fabulous sunglasses and wrap, and enjoys a glass of wine... alone.  I feel that same freedom now that I have (years ago) gotten over that fear of dining out alone.  I can't imagine all the wonderful experiences I would have missed out on if I had refused to be seen in public, at some very nice restaurants mind you, by myself.  During various trips to New York City (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), I've had no choice but to eat alone at restaurants while my friends were at work or unavailable.  What am I supposed to do? Starve to death?

And then of course there are times when you don't eat alone out of necessity, but because you just want to treat yourself... just because.  Today, I had one of those experiences.  I had been eating at home all week, and the idea of leftovers for lunch today, again, just didn't sit well with me.  I was too lazy to cook and really just wanted to get out of the house.  I'm entitled.  I decided to go for eggs, because I love eggs, especially poached eggs, and went to one of my favorite spots in Providence, Nick's on Broadway, because their brunch is reasonably priced, always satisfying, and always fresh.  I arrived well before the lunch rush and eased myself into a seat at a table for two, for one.  Although my CrackBerry never left my side (call it dining-alone armor, call it a tumor, but it ain't going anywhere, folks!) I was dining alone, no one to talk to, just twiddling my thumbs, waiting for my eggs.  It can be very awkward at times.  I'll admit.  It's mostly awkward at a much nicer restaurant when you feel you are being watched by rich people sitting at tables all around you, judged and ridiculed, but I'm entitled to go out to eat even if I'm by myself.  Aren't I?

I ordered the Black Beans + Eggs, which is Nick's version of Huevos Rancheros.  Three of the four diners flanking my table had ordered the same dish.  Do I regret going out to eat alone?  Hellllllls no!!!  Check out the photo below, and next time you want to treat yourself to a nice meal, and everyone you know is at work, out of town, unavailable, or with their significant others, just remember how good it feels when you don't have to share ;-)

Black Beans + Eggs - Two Eggs, Black Beans, Salsa, Avocado-Cilantro-Cream, Served with Grilled Warm Tortillas $9.95


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