Don’t feel sorry for that woman dining alone. It might be a choice.
I remember so clearly my first time.
I had access to a fully equipped kitchen in the home where I had rented a room. I was 20 years old, student teaching in a Philadelphia suburb.
Coming from a large family, I knew how to cook. After a stressful first day at the local high school, I came home and took to my first meal.
Spaghetti for one.
I used a cast iron skillet to brown the meat, added it to seasoned tomato sauce in another pot, boiled water for the pasta, made a tossed salad, and toasted garlic bread in the oven.
An hour later, I had my first solo meal, and a sink full of dirty things.
I never cooked there again.
I found a few local restaurants, a friendly diner, some take-out options.
The first time I went alone to a restaurant for dinner, I took some school paperwork with me.
I was uncomfortable.
Somehow, I was sure folks were looking at me and making judgments. So I found a way to look busy, preoccupied.
After a few days of that, I gave up, learned to relax. I ordered proudly from the menu, enjoyed the solitude, digested better.
There was a bonus that I hadn’t considered. I could be the one watching, listening to casual conversations, observing couples, families, other solitary diners. I found it fascinating.
I was hooked on the experience. And I continued to find ways to dine alone for the rest of my life.
Having a family, I found that lunch was the ideal time. I was a stay at home mom who didn’t always stay at home. The husband was at work, the kids were in school, I was on my own for a few hours a day.
It was a treat to myself. I did not choose fast food, I had a dining-out experience, someone would be cooking for me.
There was a lot of seafood, something the family did not really enjoy.
The best was from Charleston, SC.
I would go to the barrier islands around the city, get shrimp taken directly from boats docked in the adjacent harbor, walk the sandy beaches, and return home re-energized.
Post inspired by a scene from the movie Moonstruck where Olympia Dukakis is asked “Signora Castorini, you dining alone tonight?”