by Madeline Laughs
I have been traveling for work for many, many years. When you’re on the road you have to learn to dine alone. This used to drive me bonkers! I hated it! If I couldn’t get it as take out or have it delivered to my hotel, I’d just go hungry. After a while, this got old. I had to learn to dine alone. I just didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t know how to walk into a restaurant and say “One, please.” without coming unglued, feeling self conscious, starred at, humiliated and afraid.
Then I met Iona.
I was trying to cajole Iona and a couple of my colleagues into going to this lounge with me one night because I was mortified to show up alone. They didn’t want to go. It was late, they were in for the night, etc. I would never admit to them why I needed them to go with me so I decided not to go at all. But Iona instinctively knew why I wouldn’t go alone.
She went to her room and came back with this stylish trench coat. “Stand up.” she told me. She motioned for me to step into the coat and she cinched the belt around my waist. As she adjusted the collar she said to me “You are a pretty woman. There is something very sexy about a woman walking into a bar alone. Now, get out of here and go have a good time. The coat will bring you luck!”
I have carried that wisdom with me all these years and I have no problem walking into a bar or a restaurant alone anymore. In fact, now I enjoy it. I people-watch and look out the window at the view and I am quite comfortable. Even when people start watching me, I never flinch. Sometimes I even stare back and I smile. I’m sure it’s disarming.
Tonight I watched a small family celebrate Good Friday. Everyone ordered fish. It was two young couples and a set of grandparents and one child. The little girl was about 4, maybe 5 years old, seated on a high chair seat and she was very busy coloring on her placemat and occasionally sneaking peeks at me. The grownups were all talking about her like she wasn’t there, or couldn’t hear them; “Janet, she is just a darling! Look at how good and well behaved she is tonight!”
Two seconds after those words hit the airwaves, the little girl’s fork goes flying through the air and lands on the next table. Then she screams with laughter! I start laughing too. My laughter drew the glare of every adult at that table.
What? I didn’t throw the fork.
They couldn’t really scold her harshly because they were in a public place and the strange woman dining alone had laughed too, so what could they do?
When my server brought me my bill I asked her to please add a huge slice of chocolate cake to it. “To go?” she asked. I shook my head. I asked her to please deliver it to the little girl once she finished her dinner.
On my way out of the restaurant I caught her eye once more and I winked at her. I like spunky, sassy little girls. I think that one day they might rule the world. What she did took huevos and in my book it deserved a huge reward.
More than anything, I hope that when she’s older she’ll remember the lady that dined alone. The one that admired her free spirit and laughed with her. Who cares if she had table manners. She was five!! At five you should still be able to burst into song and tap dance if the mood strikes you.
And if I can reward her for being spontaneous and full of life, then maybe when she’s older, little things, like dining alone, may not be such a big deal.
I hope she enjoyed her cake 🙂
- Tips & Tricks for Dining out RAW (globalraw.net)
- Greens’ Dining Room (bristolculture.wordpress.com)
- Dining in the dark (youareable2.wordpress.com)
- Dine Out, Save A Life During ‘Dining Out For Life’ Thursday, April 28th (b-townblog.com)
- Dogs’ Dining In Fancy Doggie Diner (gadabout-blogalot.com)
- Eating Well: ‘Sensorium’ brings magic, mystery, artistry and surprise to the experience of fine dining (pinkbananaworld.com)
- What are your Easter dining plans? (timesunion.com)