Eating Alone


Tonight we took my dad to dinner.  It was just the five of us and they sat us at a fairly large table.  Next to us was a table for two and a elderly woman was sitting there alone.  Anytime I see that, I wonder whether or not I should ask the person to join us.  Then, I doubt myself because perhaps that person enjoys eating alone.  Just because I have a paranoia of eating out alone, doesn’t mean others do.  I would feel self-conscious and probably a bit lonely.  I would imagine that others were looking at me and wondering “what my story was” because that is of course what I do!  Was she a widow?  Divorced?  Did she have children that lived far away so she couldn’t join them like my dad did with us?  Of course, Dave would say I was thinking way too much about it, yet it was he who noticed her sitting alone first!

I mentioned it to my kids, who, like me pondered it for a few minutes.  My dad sort of shrugged it off.  Maybe because he thought I should mind my own business.  In the end, we did not invite her to join us and I feel a little badly about it.  I watched her while we were eating and she was looking around at all of the families and friends sitting in the restaurant and she was smiling.  Maybe she does this often and goes out alone and just “people watches.”  I just know it is something I would not be comfortable with and I think that is why I am thinking so much about it.

I have gone out ONE time alone.  ONCE!  Dave had gone with my dad and the kids to a hockey game and I had a school event I had to attend.  It ended fairly early and I decided to go to get some Mexican food at a local restaurant.  I was going to get it and bring it home, but it was already fairly late by that time.  Instead I decided to face my fear and eat by myself.  Since it was just me, I did not want to take up a table so I sat in the bar area and ordered my dinner.  I even decided to have a margarita to go with it.  As I sat at the table, alone, in walked a few parents from the school.  There I was, sitting at the bar, drinking ALONE!  I am sure it could not have looked to good to them!  Fortunately, I knew them fairly well and we all had a good laugh over it and in the end, I wound up joining them for dinner so I actually never actually ate alone.

I enjoy the company of others.  I have never been one to enjoy solitude.  I will often strike up a conversation with others – even strangers.  I even talk to myself.  Complete conversations in fact!  I am sure people who are stopped at red lights next to me must think I am crazy as I talk to no one!  Of course there are plenty of people who are quite the opposite and enjoy the solitude and quiet.  Perhaps this particular woman does this often and goes out and just people watches.  I guess I will never know since I didn’t ask.  I felt like I might offend her by asking.  What would you do?  Have you ever asked a stranger to join you?  Is it imposing on others to do so?  I don’t know if there is a correct answer to this.  I would hope that if I am in the same situation again, I’d have the nerve to ask them to join me…but only if they wanted…but how would I know??

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