Okay, so a few strange things happened to me.
First, I ended up on something called the Holly Jolly Trolley. (This is not the strange part of the story. This is the awesome part. Because HOLLY JOLLY TROLLEY, YOU GUYS! THAT EXISTS!)
While I was sitting in the trolley watching the Christmas lights in downtown Kalamazoo go by, I got to listen to some teenaged guy hit on a blonde girl in front of me. He was telling her that he wanted to be a “doctor-scientist” when he grows up. Which, apparently, is a doctor who travels around the world, researching minerals “and stuff” and curing diseases like “cancer and herpes and genital warts.”
I was pretty certain this was the first time anyone had ever uttered the words “herpes and genital warts” on the Holly Jolly Trolley. And it was magical.The second weird thing that happened to me this weekend was I met Matisyahu. Yes, that Matisyahu.
Okay, so we didn’t actually meet-meet. But I did go to a Menorah lighting in the park. And he happened to be there because he had a concert later that night in Kalamazoo. And I swear we exchanged meaningful glances. Like he KNEW I used to have the biggest crush on him.But definitely the strangest thing that happened was when I went out to dinner by myself on Saturday night, and I didn’t feel the teensiest bit awkward or uncomfortable.
Not that I don’t go out to dinner by myself all the time. I mean, a girl’s got to eat. And this girl likes to eat a lot. And often.
But usually when I go out to dinner on my own I stick to places like cafes or divey diners or some place I know I won’t feel awkward sitting by myself. Usually because there’s a whole bunch of other people sitting there by themselves. And we’re all like one big family. Except none of us know each other. Which makes things a little bit awkward, but not really that awkard.
But this place I went to on Saturday was not my typical café or divey diner.
This place was fancy.
Not exactly five-course-meal fancy.
But they did serve drinks with cucumbers in them. That’s how you know things are classy — when your beverage starts to resemble a salad.This restaurant was totally the kind of place that you would go to on a date. Not that I know a lot about going on dates seeing as I haven’t been on one of those in umm, well, lemmethink, okay, nevermind.
The lights were low and the music was romantic and I was surrounded by a whole bunch of people who appeared to be on dates. And all of these things would usually make me feel really uncomfortable, but I didn’t feel weird at all.
So, yes, the weirdest thing that happened to me this weekend was when I didn’t feel weird.
Welcome to my world.
And since I’m obviously now a total expert at eating out by myself and not feeling weird, I’ve decided to share some of my tips, so you too can eat by yourself at a restaurant, drinking classy salad-drinks and feeling totally not-weird.
How to Eat Out by Yourself Like a Boss
Start big and scary.Remember when I decided to kick off the Go Solo Project by going to a male strip show by myself and you all thought I was crazy and many of you sent me concerned emails beginning with the words, “Umm, ARE YOU CRAZY?” And then ending with the words, “Also, you need friends.”
Whelp, who’s crazy now?
(Okay, I realize the answer to that question is still probably me, but I do have a point. Somewhere. I think.)
The thing is when you start out a big scary project by doing the biggest, scariest thing you can possibly imagine first, it makes all the other big scary things you do next not seem so big and scary.
I mean, fancy-pants dinner by myself? And I don’t have to worry about a sweaty, male, Australian stripper gyrating in my face? No problem!
Arrive uncomfortableIt helped that when I showed up to the restaurant I’d just spent two hours standing outside in the cold at a tree-lighting ceremony in a downtown park, trying to not be run over by small children and failing miserably at that.
I was cold. I was cranky. I was hungry. My feet hurt. And I needed to pee.
You can’t really get much more uncomfortable than that.
So sitting by myself didn’t make me feel any more uncomfortable than I already was. In fact, I was just happy to be sitting. And eating. And close to a restroom. And not being run over by children.
Have a storyOne fun thing I like to do when I’m out by myself is to come up with a story for why I’m out by myself. You know, in case someone asks. Not that anyone asks, but still.
For example, maybe I’m a high-powered business executive in town on some kind of high-powered business trip, and I’m tired of sitting in my really expensive hotel room eating really expensive room service, so I just decided to hit the town and hang out with the riff-raff.
Or maybe I’m a Russian spy sent to Michigan to study the ways of the mysterious Michigander.
Or maybe I used to go to this restaurant all the time with my boyfriend, Billy. That was before he died in a freak roller coaster accident. As he died, he grabbed my hand and whispered, “I love you. Also, you should go back to that restaurant we liked. The one with the good pizza.” So each year I come back to this restaurant by myself and order his favorite pizza.
Of course, the more elaborate the story is, the better. As thinking up all the complicated details tends to take your mind off the fact that you’re sitting by yourself making up an elaborate story about why you’re sitting by yourself.
Entertain yourself.Worried about being bored?
Of course, cell phones are a great way to banish boredom. Because… WHAT’S THAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THIS REALLY IMPORTANT FACEBOOK MESSAGE THAT I’M GETTING ON MY CELL PHONE RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE! SEE! I HAVE FRIENDS! ON FACEBOOK!
As fascinating as Facebook is, it really can’t compare to my most favoritest form of entertainment: eavesdropping.
Sure, your mom probably told you it was rude to eavesdrop. But it’s definitely ruder to sit there clutching your ears and humming show tunes so you don’t accidentally overhear someone’s conversation.
Besides, some conversations are impossible to not hear. Like the one between the future-herpes-healing-doctor-scientist and the blonde girl on the trolley.
Sadly, none of the conversations at the restaurant were nearly as entertaining as that. There was an awkward-sounding first-date going on to my right and two guys getting really drunk on my left. But all of it still made for a fun Facebook-break.
Yes, everyone IS looking at you and judging you. Their judgment? YOU’RE AWESOME!We all worry a little bit about what people might think when they see us sitting all alone at our table for one, right?
It’s annoying that we even have to think about what other people think. But it’s human. And let’s agree that it happens, okay?
Now, you have two choices.
You can either believe people are looking at you sitting by yourself and feeling sorry for you.
Or you can believe people are looking at you and feeling totally jealous of you.
So, when I sat down at my table by myself this Saturday, and I noticed a few people glancing my way, I decided these people weren’t feeling sorry for me.
They were obviously all just jealous.
I mean, there I was not having to have a single awkward first date conversation.
I could order whatever the heck I wanted without having to worry about gross gorgonzola breath.
And I didn’t have to share a single slice of pizza with anyone.
Come on, who wouldn’t want that life?Do you dine alone? How do you avoid feeling awkward? Please share!