The Guide to Eating Out Alone

Eating alone in public was a fear that I was unable to get rid of until college. High school’s universal lunch times and cafeteria really didn’t do much for the person that ate alone. Ill-intended or not, thoughts of “this person’s a loner” inevitably occur to the bystander. In college, this got a lot better because everybody’s schedules would be different; there would also be ample one or two-seater options in the dining hall. Also, all the other things on your mind just made it that much easier to stop caring about any potential judgments.

However, this does not mean that my fear has been completely eradicated, as an extension of the notion of eating alone is still deeply troubling. It is one of eating alone in public, except this time I mean the REAL world: eating at a restaurant. Cafes and coffee shops don’t count, since often it’s meant to be enjoyed alone anyway. I’m talking about the restaurants where there’s a hostess at the door that asks you, “Table for – oh god forbid – one?” In which you have little option but to hold your head high and offer a subtle nod in hopes that nobody else saw your independent pursuit to eat out.

There are a couple of things to do that could ease the pain in this experience. Although I have yet to fully commit in eating out alone at a restaurant (I really need to learn how to get over it soon and I will definitely reflect the experience here), here are some actions that I would take to make the experience that much more rich and vivid.

1) Getting seated: It’s likely that you will be led to what’s really a small two-person table. Therefore, there will be two sets of plates and silverware. You have an important decision to make here: do you keep it there to maintain the illusion that someone is coming? Or are you just going to screw it and let it be known loud and clear that nobody else is coming. This one is a toss-up, since eating with an empty chair and dining set can also give off the impression of being stood up, which might be less noble than owning up the fact that you had always intended to enjoy this meal alone anyway.

2) Ordering. This could go in several directions too, depending on your budget/what kind of food you like to eat. There’s the option of ordering elegantly – what you would eat on a date that would still maintain the same level of attraction is what you’ll order here. However, I would probably go all-out. Order anything and everything you’d like – so what if it’s 3 appetizers and 3 desserts? You’re alone! This is the time where all the other judging diners don’t really apply since it’s unlikely that you’ll interact with them once the night is over. Honestly, order something that you want to eat all by yourself and as ugly as you may be while eating it, it’s going to be delicious.

3) Waiting for food: This is a point I’d like to stress: NO SOCIAL MEDIA. No distractions. Giving in would be a personal failure because your interactions with others, cyber-based or not negate the point of eating alone. However tempting this may be, refrain from falling into the trap. It’s not worth it, and you would have endured so much for nothing, since it’s not really eating alone. It’s cheating. So…just wait patiently. Start people-watching. Honestly, there are few opportunities that top people-watching alone at a restaurant.

4) Eating your food: Alas, your food has finally arrived! It’s time to enjoy all of it, and don’t hesitate to eat that corn on the cob shamelessly while corn pieces fly out of your mouth and the others get stuck in your teeth. Open your mouth wide to eat that hamburger while the meat juices flow down your chin. Accidentally drop something. Make a huge mess on your table. Finish all your fries. Get more. Do whatever you want, it’s you against the world!

5) Order dessert. This is a must. I don’t care how full you are but you have to order dessert. It’s a sign of total acceptance and embrace of your independence. Again, get whatever you want, extra orders are not only accepted, they’re recommended.

6) Getting the check and paying: This part gets a little dark, since it is your wallet that has to take the damage. Gone are the days of sharing the bill or getting treated by others. You’re on your own. It’s going to be painful but I’d recommend using a charge card just so you don’t have to see each dollar ($54) being separated from you.

7) Leaving: This is a tough call. If you think eating alone is something that you will regularly participate in , then I would recommend you just to slip out discreetly without bothering the rest of the diners. However, for whatever reason, if this is something that is more of a once-in-a-decade activity, make a grand exit. You really have to master the full potential in this experience, so do whatever you think makes yourself known that you ate alone, and that you were a badass the entire time.

8) Reflect: You did it! You have finally fully committed to the experience of eating alone in a very public place. It takes a lot of guts and willpower to do so, but it’s one more thing to cross off that bucket list and you should feel triumphant. Honestly, I feel a little hypocritical to be writing up a guide that I myself cannot follow, but I promise that someday I will. To be honest, it sounds like an awesome time and getting over this fear would likely help me in getting over other ones. Who knows, you might meet someone on this personal endeavour, in which case you would put his/her number in your bag and the back of your mind until the next day because this meal is, and always will be, all yours.

Where the (Right) Advice At?!

I’m excited by the fact that more of you are finding and reading this blog; whether it’s by accident or not I hope you stick around! Also, please feel free to leave a comment, I’d love to hear from any of you to ease the loneliness a bit. Just kidding, it’s not quite that dramatic but still please do make your voices seen/heard!

Now, back to the topic of interest: relationship advice. There are so many love and relationship advice websites/forums/what-not for all ages out there on the web. Depending on your level of interest, you can find a few interesting articles on Yahoo about how to bail out on a bad date early or take quizzes to reveal your ideal suitor. Whatever it may be, there’s something lovin’ (or at least love advice) for everyone.

Well…almost everyone. Maybe it’s because I haven’t done adequate research or something, but for some reason such advice fails to fall in the hands of the spinster. When was the last time you saw a genuinely helpful article about what a person could be missing or an enlightening piece on what guys really, and I mean REALLY look for? (the answer to that question is that there is no answer).

Just as an example, I decided to take it upon myself to google something a spinster would want to know: “How to get a boyfriend”. I hope and pray that I do not suffer from this Google search and that others will not use it against me…like they have done in murder trials where the killer is exposed by tracing their Google search history (“How to commit murder” – though honestly, why would anybody be this dumb?).

Anyway,out of my findings, these two websites provided interesting advice:
http://www.wikihow.com/Get-a-Boyfriend
http://www.hookingupsmart.com/2009/09/28/relationshipstrategies/20-reasons-you-dont-have-a-boyfriend/

Let’s talk about the Wikihow first, literally, How to Get a Boyfriend:

1) Make sure he doesn’t have a girlfriend- It’s pointless to go after someone who is already in a relationship!
No shit.

-After 15 more reasonable but not very helpful items –

17) When you do have a boyfriend, don’t cheat on him by dating other boys.
I’ll try to resist the urge.

18) If you don’t have a boyfriend at this point, go back to the top of this article and read the steps again.
NOOOO WHY?!?!

Exactly.

Now hookingupsmart.com: 20 Reasons You Don’t Have a Boyfriend

I don’t want to go over each reason, but I can honestly say that it’s so dificult not to be guilty of a few of these items, let alone any of them. Without any of these “imperfections,” does this girl even have any personality leftover? And can a guy really not handle any of these things…well maybe they’re the ones not worth dating. I better stop myself before I become several of these traits (aggressive, too picky, self-aborbed etc.).

Although, to the author’s credit, she does provide a disclaimer that it’s not likely that anybody will be able to be completely reason-free, which just goes to show how difficult it is to answer a question like “how to get a boyfriend”. I wish I knew the answer, because not only would it make my life easier, I would share it with everyone to help create some love in the world. I’m not saying that relationship advice pertaining to less spinster-y topics are neccessarily better, but for the most part they aren’t as difficult or long-term problems to solve.

That being said, if anybody out there has a valuable piece of information to share or has read something of the like, please make it known! At the very least, I will deeply appreciate such sound advice and will share it with all my spinster friends (I try not to have too many, but what can you say we unite through our pain).

Musical Influences: Songs for a Spinster Part 2

Today we move on to some of the worst possible songs for a spinster to hear, particularly on a bad day. My advice for sensitive or lonely people is to skip over these songs as quickly as possible and continue on with your day. It’s just not necessary to be this affected by a song. Also, I try to make these songs more mainstream so more people can be saved from these gut-wrenching, heart-breaking songs.

TERRIBLE SONGS FOR A SPINSTER:

1. Hiding My Heart by Adele (Originally by Brandi Carlile)

I wish I could lay down beside you
When the day is done
And wake up to your face against the morning sun
But like everything I’ve ever known
You’ll disappear one day
So I’ll spend my whole life hiding my heart away

Nevermind the fact that the subject of this song is already so depressing, but with Adele singing it the sadness becomes inflated by super steroids. There’s been studies and parodies on why her tear-jerker “Someone Like You” is so tragic, but the tiny bit of optimism in that song (“Nevermind, I’ll find someone like you”) is something that the spinster cannot afford to have. “Hiding My Heart” does not have any optimism, which is why however fitting this song is, it is still a horrible reminder of the long road ahead.

2. Love Story by Taylor Swift

Marry me, Juliet, you’ll never have to be alone.
I love you, and that’s all I really know.
I talked to your dad ‒ go pick out a white dress
It’s a love story, baby, just say, “Yes”.

Oh hellllll no. No, no, no. Just no. Nothing much to say about this one, other than the fact that whoever thought this romantic fantasy was a good idea can slowly rot away on a deserted island somewhere. Alright, that may have been a bit harsh, but white dress, love story, really??! Somewhere out there a teenage girl is looking at a plethora of wedding gowns and planning her dream wedding. She will be faced with the harsh reality that nothing in life is that fluffy or pure. Good luck to you.

3. Almost Lover by A Fine Frenzy

Goodbye, my almost lover
Goodbye, my hopeless dream
I’m trying not to think about you
Can’t you just let me be?
So long, my luckless romance 

Oh dear. A spinster can look at this two ways. 1) Literally: The person that could have salvaged her from being forever alone is now gone for good. It was risky, but the small glimmer of hope for graduating spinsterdom was enough, but clearly it did not pay off in the end. 2) Figuratively: The “almost lover” is the hope for finding a happy and steady relationship someday. Now that this hope is gone…all that remains is the luckless romance that will carry on for a long, long time.

4. Boyfriend by Justin Bieber

If I was your boyfriend, never let you go
Keep you on my arm girl you’d never be alone
I can be a gentleman, anything you want
If I was your boyfriend, I’d never let you go, I’d never let you go

Justin Bieber is basically forcing the listener to imagine herself in a relationship (probably in one with him, which induces further trauma). This song puts the spinster in an extremely vulnerable place, and it’s not one that she can easily get out of. Once she is dreaming about what it would be like to “chill by the fire eating fondue” with her potential boyfriend, she’s forced down a very very dark path that she can’t easily turn away from.

5. I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt

Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t
You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t
Here in the dark, in these lonely hours
I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power
But you won’t, no you won’t ‘
Cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t

Yup. Basically a spinster can’t make anybody love them. Listening to this is simply a horrible idea, because there is a realization that it’s not really up to the spinster to solve this unromantic life, rather, the fate is in another person’s hands. Not only is a frightening truth, it’s something that is hard to change. Seriously, it’s easier just to skip this song.

Welcome! Now let’s get down to business.

With a 9-5 internship where little needs to be done, finding something to do with all the time I have is a daily struggle. With too much time comes too many thoughts, and with too many thoughts comes one that has slowly dominated them all: being forever alone.

Even though I’m no middle-aged woman living alone with as many cats as I am old, as sad as it sounds this is a future that I can easily imagine for myself. My past and present have only affirmed my potential as a spinster, and the future does not look bright either.

After struggling with the idea of becoming a spinster for quite some time, I have decided to dedicate a blog to emulate my thoughts on being single (and on relationships but predominantly the former since that is my area of expertise). Instead of focusing on how pathetic this aspect of my life is, I vow to use this blog to assert my independence (or at least I hope to). So for those who are in a relationship, out of a relationship, has never been in a relationship, hopefully you can all find some common ground with my story. Even if my thoughts do nothing but make you feel better about yourself, at least I will have provided some joy to somebody in this world.

I’m not sure what this will become or where this spontaneous idea will head, but at the very least someday I can read these posts and laugh at my own ignorance. However, if you feel very much alone please be reminded that I will be there for you – and if your story is sad enough you may even gain membership to the spinster club that I founded with my friends (but more on that later…)