Frank’s out of town for a couple of days. He left this morning for LA (for his first business trip ever!) I kind of can’t remember the last time I was home alone. Generally me and Frank take vacations together (because, uh, we can’t really afford to take that many,) and even though we go separate places for the holidays we generally leave and return around the same time, and until now, neither of us did any travel for work. So I’m a little lonely but whatever, I’m not going to be a baby about it.
He’s only gone until Wednesday, which is exactly enough time to cook all the food I love that he hates (cauliflower, beets, latkes) and watch a ton of dumb television. Plus pee with the door open and sing along to Neil Young songs and sleep in the center of the bed and hog the good computer. It’ll be like a little sleepover party with the cats.
So I was going out today to grab some lunch and buy some stuff for dinner (Indian-spiced caramelized cauliflower, chickpeas, and potato over wheatberries with crunchy cabbage and yogurt sauce—Frank would HATE that.) I hit up the farmers’ market and hippie food store, all listening to my favorite podcast and enjoying the finally crisp, breezy fall weather. The sky was super blue and the pedestrians’ cheeks were pink and pumpkins were for sale on every corner and I was wearing my rainbow sneakers and lugging a cauliflower the size of my head in a canvas tote. It was like an Amish music video crossed with Sesame Street and a dash of Mary Tyler Moore. It was picturesque, is what I’m saying, and I was feeling happy.
And also hungry. I was in the mood for trashy tex-mex breakfast food, as is my right as a Texpat, and so went to a neighborhood place where I knew I could get a good breakfast quesadilla. I know, don’t judge. It’s in my blood. I bopped up, all “Table for one, please,” and got hit with a giant, disquieting dose of spinster-eating-alone pity. Are we still doing that, people? Really? In 2007?
I used to eat out alone all the time before Frank and I moved in together. It’s one of my favorite things—a book, food brought to you that you don’t have to make, time alone to just sit and not carry anything or go anywhere. I never ever had anyone look at me crosswise in all that time. But today, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten such intense pity about anything.
It was weird. It’s not like I had a cat with me or anything. I still kind of can’t figure it out. Maybe because brunch is a more social meal? Or because Brooklyn is so infested with couples? ‘Cause I look old? Or creepy? I have no idea. But it literally went like:
HOSTESS: Table for two?
ME: Nope, just me today
HOSTESS (sad little smile): Oh, okay. Anywhere you like.
GUY PUTTING NAPKINS ON THE TABLE: Just…just you? Alone?
ME (reading book): Yup, just me
GUY PUTTING NAPKINS ON THE TABLE (sad little smile): Sure, sweetie. I’ll just leave you an extra.
WAITRESS (sad little smile): Hey, hi. I bet you know what you want. What can I get for you?
ME (still reading book): Breakfast quesadilla? Diet coke?
WAITRESS (nodding sympathetically): Sure, I’ll get it right out.
GUY BRINGING OUT FOOD (sad little smile): Hi, there, how are you doing? How’s your day going? Okay? Here’s your lunch, okay? You enjoy it. (This same dude brought the couple next to me their food and just plunked it down, no conversation whatsoever.)
ME (book): Thanks? I think?
Like, what the hell guys? It would be one thing if my face was tear-streaked and I was wearing a soiled wedding gown. But I cannot possibly be the first completely normal, happy person having brunch alone? Right?
I know it sounds like I’m being hypersensitive or something, but I swear to you, I went in there totally not being weirded out AT ALL about being alone—like I said, I used to eat out alone like four or five times a week (and come to think of it, I eat out alone during lunch at work all the time)—but the people at this restaurant were so totally strange about the whole thing. Yikes, dude. Nobody likes a pity quesadilla. Even if it does have extra guacamole. Which it did. Still, though. Yikes.