After reading some of the other answers...gee, there's a lot of guys convinced that dining alone somehow marks them as losers. I guess none of them travel on business. Most of my "dining alone at a restaurant" has been while traveling alone...it's either get over yourself or be stuck with fast food or room service. (And I quite like room service sometimes.)
But if I'm in the city alone, and friends aren't available, sure I'll go someplace and have a real sit-down meal.
2009-02-03 05:55 pm (UTC)
I prefer not to eat alone because I think a meal in (the right) company is far better than one without, but that doesn't stop me from doing it...and if I want to eat out, at a sit-down restaurant, I just do it.
Besides, I always have some e-books handy
so I'm not without reading material. (You might even notice a familiar name in that post....)
(Author-glow for the mention...)
I usually carry a small notebook and start writing. There's nothing to create fast service like being in the middle of a paragraph, brain zipping along. Apparently, seeing a customer writing convinces the waitstaff that they're being neglectful. Besides, every once in awhile someone will ask what I'm writing, and I get to say "Oh, I'm just working on my next book--" and you can see where that's going.
Sometimes I people-watch. Sometimes I sketch in the notebook. Sometimes I sketch the people I'm watching in the notebook, for gestures I haven't seen before along with a quick note about the language they're speaking and the context, if I can understand it. On the fortunate few times I've been at a restaurant with a good view (Queenstown, NZ, for instance--outdoors near the harbor) I people-watch *and* look at the view.)
I don't usually take a book and read anymore because I don't like my reading interrupted, and yet I do like food to arrive, plates to be removed, etc.
Now that's a thought...
I have had some very good meals eating alone...hmmm. I'll have to learn to arch my brows critically and make little notes while I'm eating...
2009-02-04 12:23 am (UTC)
That was my thought, too.
I was also suprised by the overwhelmingly negative response. It would be interesting to see the answers broken down by age.
I'm heading out to lunch on my own in about fifteen minutes and looking forward to getting away from my desk. I shall try to snaek a walk in as well!
That was more or less my response. I'm single, and if I wait until someone invites me or has time, I'd never eat out when I felt like it. That *would* be pretty pathetic.
One thing I do, I don't accept the awkward table that's wedged next to the kitchen door or the loo. If I'm not made welcome, I'll go elsewhere.
When I'm traveling, I often eat off-peak hours because that's how the schedule goes (if I'm supposed to give a talk and sign books at 7, an hour's drive from the hotel, and my ride's coming at 5:45...I'd better eat early or I'll fade out...just one instance.)
Travel has really given me confidence that I didn't have before...there were decades where I had no money to eat out anyway, and I realized when I started going to conventions that I had done *nothing* on my own--not travel, not eating out--since early-mid 20s. Confidence erodes from lack of use. I will admit that the first time I registered in a big hotel (in forever) or went into a restaurant alone, I was a little tense--but it passed and now I enjoy it. Though, if there are friends whose schedule fits with mine, and I'm not absolutely wiped out, I'd rather eat with others.
There are times when circumstances dictate solo dining. It doesn't bother me- I just ask for a certain sort of seat (in a corner or along the wall with a view of the room), and I am happy. I eat alone 90% of the time anyway, so I am used to doing so.
The advantage of my usual schedule--so I'm eating ahead of or behind the usual rush hour--means I usually get a reasonably decent table without asking.
I think it is something society has somehow promoted. Kind of like how only skinny women are beautiful. I eat a lot by myself. Sometimes I do feel a bit uneasy, usually only when I eat at a new place. But it is mostly because I always take a book to read and I don't know how the waitstaff will react. Most times it is no big deal. Usually at least one person will ask what I am reading.
Ditto the bafflement over people viewing dining alone as a negative. I do far too many business trips to even think about that. And at least once during each workweek, I go out to lunch at a restaurant with my current fiction project and work on it during the meal.
This makes me wonder if the combination of more business travel and women rising to a level where they do business travel has changed the perception (mine as well.) When I was a kid, few women traveled alone (the grandmother going to visit the grandkids, maybe) and the unaccompanied woman in airports, restaurants, etc. was unusual. And often (knowing herself unusual) uncomfortable. The "norm" was a married woman escorted by her husband or a not-yet-married woman escorted by her date.
Then more women traveled alone on business, and acquired expertise with all that entailed, including dining alone. In the meantime, the social restraints against women being out in the world without a chaperon were eroding (in some parts of the world at least) and the fusion of these two influences produced a lot of women who are quite comfortable eating alone. The way men used to be (I really was surprised at the number of (apparent) guys who worried about what someone would think if they ate alone.)
Tables made to sit two are great for one person plus paperwork. The places I've been to are all very very used to people going to a place where they can be served food AND work in a fresh environment. And if you're obviously doing something, they'll leave you alone except for beverage refills and so forth. When I've been in without a task, I get a lot more attention.
Sometimes you just want to sit by yourself for a while.
And, as other people have said, if I never went out without another person, scheduling would get the better of me. I barely manage to co-ordinate time together with my partner and we live in the same house (I get grumpy about people ringing on Friday mornings, because that's the only reliable couple-time we get)!
Absolutely, and I regard it as a high treat!
I make it a point to eat out alone, somewhere nice, periodically. I can take a beloved book and finish my din wiht a nice glass of port and something sweet and take my time (yes, I'm sensitive to restaurant flow and only linger if there're plenty of tables free).
Of course. I'd be dusty, gray bored and DEAD if I always waited to do something until I found a compatible companion.
Books are great cover, behind which one can people watch and (I confess -eavesdrop) but one has to select carefully for one that is a title one does not mind being seen with,but is also not an absorbing read. The last criterion eliminates E. Moon's ouevre from the camoflage list.
I will go eat alone if I don't want to cook, but I do want a meal (healthier than picking up takeout and eating on the couch, most of the time).
A similar question came up at work, years ago, on a monday. I'd had a really bad day on friday, so I went to the movies. Alone. It was a nice pick-me up. When asked on monday what I had done on the weekend, I mentioned going to see a movie.
This led to a discussion about going to the movies alone, where the guys all said that they would *never* go to a movie alone, while most of the women were puzzled at why you *wouldn't* go alone if you wanted to go to a movie and no one else was available/interested at the time.
As for dining out, I will generally bring along a novel (either on paper or my Sony reader).