You know that Norman Rockwell painting, where everyone’s around the dinner table leaning in excitedly because they’re going to have turkey, or because it’s 1943 and everyone was happy and wore cherry-color lipstick? That picture is not my life.
And it’s not just because I have relatively small lips and cherry-color lipstick would make me look insane. It’s because most of my meals are eaten alone. By myself. I am Han Solo, over here. I’m a divorced woman with no kids, and maybe that sounds really sad to you; maybe you’re thinking of me being Miss Lonelyheart from “Rear Window,” but lemme tell you: Save your tears.
I’m an only child and my mother worked, so I started eating by myself at a relatively early age. And for me, there’s always been something sort of peaceful about it. No need to make conversation, no having to compliment everything the cook has plunked down. (Because, trust me, if I’m ever eating with people, I am 100% not the cook in this scenario.) No worrying that some other schlub at the table’s gonna get the last of the potatoes. You know what schlub is gonna get those potatoes? Me.
When I get home from work these days, I either order Chinese food or go to the food bar at the grocery store. And by the way, the Chinese-food-delivery guy knows my dogs’ names, and recently noted that I’ve changed my hair. Yes, I do realize I’m going to become Lot’s wife with the salt consumption. But, crab rangoon, folks. I believe they’re one of the superfoods.
My point is, I sit down with my not-remotely-created-by-me food and I read a book or watch “Long Island Medium,” because nothing is better than “Long Island Medium” and some sesame chicken. And I have a nice 20 minutes where I don’t have to talk and I get to enjoy my food. Maybe this makes me some kind of unabomber or something, but it’s my favorite part of my day. After that, I have to walk the ding-dang dogs and do my workout and attend to my status on Facebook. I mean, it’s a grind. But my solo dinner? It’s all about me.
The person I’m dating moved to our town a few years ago, not knowing anyone. He actually cooks for himself and occasionally me (see above reference to 100% never the cook, ever), but he also goes to a restaurant somewhere and sits at the bar with a book. He said he never minds eating alone out in public, that he’s always done this, even when he lived in a town where he knew everyone. But he did note that whenever he sees someone else eating alone, he always thinks, “Oh, no. Bless her heart. Did her husband die or something?”
He’s Southern, the person I’m seeing. He blesses everyone’s heart all over the place. If you live within a 50-mile radius of us and there is anything remotely sad about you, I promise you your heart has been blessed by my boyfriend.
Anyway, it cracked me up, him telling me that. That, for him, eating alone is perfectly acceptable and fun, but on others it looks sad and lonely. I guess if I were you, and I heard my very-much-not-the-Waltons’-dinner description, I might feel a little sorry for me, too. Where’s the camaraderie? Who do I tell about my day?
I say camaraderie is highly overrated. Besides, the Chinese delivery guy is always happy to hear what I’ve done with my day. And you know when I eat alone, I prefer to be by myself.