Alone in a crowd
I discovered tonight a place where I can just write, with words flowing, pen floating across paper. I dined alone in a popular Italian restaurant, owned by an Indian gentleman. Attentive waitresses in short skirts or tight jeans met all my food and drink needs. They had offered me one of three tables. I chose the one in the middle since the other two were next to couples and I felt I would intrude, eavesdropping on their conversations, having noone else to give my attention. I later thought, as a writer, I was missing an opportunity to gather dialogue.
I looked around at the other diners. Nobody else was sitting alone. A dad with three adult sons and a daughter were most immediate in my line of sight. It seemed everyone who walked past knew him, greeting him enthusiastically.
Briefly, I examined my phone, but that felt uncouth. I pulled out pen and paper instead. And wrote. I wrote more words towards my novel over dinner than I did during the whole rest of the day. The food ended up being a disruption but the chatter around me a mere hub-bub, blob-blobbing like a stew rather than a kettle screaming for attention.
One patron leaving by my table, remarked to me about how noisy it was. I politely agreed but found her comment more annoying than all the ongoing conversations not involving me.
I ordered a second glass of wine to extend this surprise opportunity and may have followed it with a cocktail if I hadn't been issued with a bill in response to declining dessert. "No hurry", they said, which felt like I was being hurried, and soon the Indian gentleman was bringing in the outside table and chairs, stacking them along the wall. Their website said they closed at 11pm and it was only 9.30. As I left there only remained two occupied tables, the family mentioned earlier, plus a table of three men, one in a high-vis jacket. He was a stark contrast to a lady who wore a skirt and lacy top who had complained to her companion when he returned from his bathroom visit about the attitude of the staff towards her whilst he was gone. I don't think she liked being alone for those few minutes. They had left some time earlier. And now my time was up too.
So there it is, the bashfulness of dining out alone makes me write, unfortunately not a habit I can financially sustain but a tactic to keep in mind for the future.