Is it dangerous to have dinner alone?
# FragR29: Is it weird to go to a restaurant alone?
Restaurants are social places. Actually, in a restaurant like this there is always some form of interaction with other people, be it with the service, the other guests or with your own company. I'm not talking about cafés in which it feels like every second person is sitting alone in front of their laptop, I'm talking about real restaurants. Those who don't have a row of seats by the window so that you can have a quick coffee to stay there undisturbed. I mean those where you have to make a reservation and maybe even put on clean clothes. Those in which the light is dimmed. Those in which the food is properly cooked and not just warmed up with the contact grill. But what happens now when you go to a real restaurant by yourself? Does the so-called spotlight effect occur, an effect that, quite simply, only describes that you take yourself far too seriously, that you feel like you are on a presentation plate and that other people may not even notice that you are eating alone?
Well, I have to say, yes, it is noticeable when you eat alone in a restaurant. Not only the person who is obviously sitting alone at the table, but also the other guests. I always have to look secretly when someone at the next table exchanges deep looks with their cell phone or book and not with someone opposite. I have to ask myself immediately what is wrong with this person ?! Why the hell does she eat alone? And why does this person look happy too? Of course, it's mean of me to judge the other person like that. I am probably just trying to cover up my own insecurity and my shame about this very insecurity. Being alone is often confused with loneliness and loneliness is still a kind of taboo. We have to be in love or in love as much as possible, have loads of friends and fun around us and shouldn't let us show if we are lonely. But especially in big cities there are many lonely people. The fact that it is not common to eat out alone automatically excludes many lonely people from certain activities and isolates them even more. And besides, and perhaps most importantly, a person who eats alone is not automatically lonely. In fact, she's probably actually happy. Because for some people it is really normal to go to a restaurant alone. And that's perfectly okay.
The first time I noticed a lonely eater was also the most extreme example I've seen so far. So we were all in this restaurant, which not only had futuristic decor, but futuristic prices as well. The portions were tiny, there was a 30-minute break between the 8 courses, the whole dinner lasted several hours and all guests had dressed very smartly to honor this special evening. At the next table sat a guy, somehow in his late forties, with incredibly expensive, but also very loose clothes. He wore a baseball cap and outrageously expensive shoes, both of which tried desperately to give the impression that they weren't expensive. The guy sat there, all alone, ordered the 8-course menu plus wine accompaniment (both together over 200 euros), patted around on his cell phone and only interrupted it when it was time for the next course. There was a large weekender next to him, so he was safe in transit. Maybe he was transferred, maybe he wanted to surprise his boyfriend or girlfriend and that went really bad and now he was sitting here alone and trying to console himself with this exclusive meal. Those were all thoughts that shot through my mind when I saw the guy. The thought that he might just be sitting there alone and eating that evening, out of heart, did not occur to me.
Coffee to stay is absolutely okay
Strangely enough, however, it is totally normal to eat alone in cafés and snack bars. The other day I went to a deli in Brooklyn and everyone was nibbling on their bagels by themselves, including me. Nobody looked funny, on the contrary, I was even drawn into a short conversation that had nothing to do with the fact that I was eating alone. That was not even addressed or questioned. In general, it seems to be more common there to have a meal alone in public. Firstly, since I was traveling and secondly, I wasn't in a real restaurant, at that moment I didn't really think about the fact that I was alone. On this trip I went to drink coffee by myself, toured the city on my own and went shopping on my own. Not a thing. But would I have gone to a real restaurant on my own on my short trip to the third coolest city in the world? Unlikely! Because if you drink coffee alone, you are urban, if you treat yourself to an exclusive tasting menu, have no friends or obviously have to smell bad or be somehow sad, annoying, quirky or even dangerous.
The question is, why do I have these strange thoughts when I see someone enjoying dinner alone? What is so bad about just going to a restaurant by yourself? Nothing at all. Nevertheless, the thought of it is absolute horror for me - and not only for me. Like me, there are many in my inner circle. Or they don't even get the idea, except maybe when they are on vacation. Somehow that's a shame, because we may close ourselves off with some really great experiences. In any case, I have made up my mind to go out to dinner on my own very soon. In the city where I live. Just because. Good Appetite.
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