Interiority Complex: Field Notes while Dining Out Alone, as Shared Live on Facebook
A true account, with minor editorial adjustments, of a not-quite-internal monologue.
6:37 PM. Observed while dining out alone: People are pretty much always OK with paying a dollar more to swap out their fries for sweet potato fries.
Friends offer input: 2 strongly agree, 1 strongly objects. OP’s followup comment re: sham nature of sweet potato fries, their crispiness and sweetness as simulacra (0 Likes), fails to promote further dialogue on this thread.
6:38 PM. Observed while dining out alone: Waiters are super awkward to solo diners.
Comments by Friends unpack waiter’s possible assumptions re: diner’s loneliness, sadness. Dollar amount of likely tip is recognized as principle guiding interaction. OP drafts Marx joke (“A spectre is haunting dinner…”); does not post. Friend [PhD candidate & longtime, passionate server] provides insight re: immense fear many young servers have — by virtue of being young — of solitude. Regional differences (NYC vs. everywhere else) also cited.
6:44 PM. Observed while dining out alone: Never make eye contact with other solo diners.
One Friend asks why. No further explanation offered.
6:46 PM. Observed while dining out alone: The bar vs. table for one = crisis of masculinity.
Friends offer suggestions for performing hegemonic masculinity at small table. Ideas include: semi-violent refusal of silverware, napkin; insistence on table near TV (presumably sportsgame is on); something involving pelt of a bear. Another Friend quotes Marilyn Monroe re: solitude. [NB: table not really that small].
6:48 PM. Observed while dining out alone: Everyone would much rather you play with your phone than read a book. Use of a pen for any reason other than signing the credit card receipt is strictly for total weirdos.
Engagement metrics for handwritten ruminations in notebook: 0 Likes.
7:05 PM. Observed while dining out alone: This is why Chipotle is so successful.
Disclosure: OP owns one share of stock in Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (CMG).
7:28 PM. Observed while dining out alone: With Facebook Friends like these — and all the overthinky, liberal artsy educations between us — there’s no such thing as dining alone.
Un-posted meta-reflection: awwww.
The post also appears on Medium.