Ah another weekend approaches and no doubt many of you will be making plans for mirth and merriment and quite probably jocularity too no doubt with the ones you love or even with your family. My cousin went out with family last weekend and arrived back late on Sunday night talking like a washing machine with a pizza in one hand and a tandoori chicken abomination in the other. A real renaissance man. But spare a thought for those poor unfortunates who aren't as blessed as the rest of you and able to waste away the lazy weekend hours with someone special having a frolicsome and gleeful time.
Table for one sir?
For once I'm not talking about waiters, although you should spare a thought, and your change, for us. No, for once I am thinking about other people, sadder people, more mournful people, people who for one reason or another have no one with which to frolic or enjoy high jinks, in other words people who have to dine alone. Bless. It's not unusual for people to dine alone at lunchtime but it is unusual to see diners eating alone at nighttime, especially at the weekend. There are three types of
The out of town business person doesn't care that they are dining alone. They have their crackberry, their copy of some over important broadsheet or the latest John Grisham-esque borefest to keep them company. The difficulty with the out of town business monkey is that they cant be fobbed off with a tiny table in the corner. Which is disappointing from a waiter's point of view. They normally kick up a stink and mess themselves, and your doorway, until they get a large enough table to accommodate their mobile office.
You can, however, stick little Billy/Billie no mates on to a tiny table in the corner, they are used to it. Oh why am I trying to be even handed about this? Billy no mates is always Billy no mates and never Billie no mates. It's always the weird guy with the straight legged and suspiciously perfectly ironed jeans carrying a plastic bag. Billy doesn't care where you seat him as he is just glad to be out in the public and not cooped up at home with his dead mother and her cats that scare him. The only real problem with Billy, apart from the house smell he brings with him, is that they either talk way too much or not at all. I mean getting an order from these social amoebas can be like pulling teeth from a man with his mouth closed OR conversely they take every opportunity they can get to talk to you. They will ask about each and every menu item, line by line, ingredient by ingredient. They are so starved of social interaction that you reading the menu to them is enough to warrant a whole page in their diary. Sad, but they are easy.
And then there are the uber confidents. Not many of these about, I've probably only served five or six of them all year. There is one guy that comes maybe once a month, he's an uber confident sort of guy. He comes on his own, gets some food, chat's a little, tips and leaves. Nice work! The uber confidents don't make themselves small or have to hide behind a book or need the constant chirp chirp of their mobiles to have a good time. These are the sort of people who are happy and obviously confident enough in their own skin to go out on their own. I say huzzah for the uber confidents!
We waiters are a judgmental lot and will note the fact that you are dining on your own but that's not how we will judge you. Dining, like most things, can be so much better when you are on your own. So if you are intending to dine on your own this weekend here's my advice....
Book in advance. Waiters will use any excuse to put you on a the shit table they normally cant give away if you turn up without a booking. Plus tables for one that reserve in advance scare the bejesus out of waiters, chefs and restaurant managers. A table for one can quite often mean someone doing a review or evaluation of some sort. So bring a notepad with you if you want to get the best service and food you ever had.
Bring a book or something small enough that can fit into your bag or pocket. Seriously it can get very fucking boring very fucking quick listening to the next table overs conversation about the new house extension or Susan's promotion. I know because I'm listening too.
Put something, your coat, bag, etc on the other chair. This shows the rest of the restaurant and other waiters that you are dining alone and haven't just been stood up. You don't want to spend the entire meal getting sad sympathetic smiles from every waiter/customer that walks past. Or maybe you do.
Dress like the uber confident person you are. People are gonna stare at you as you chow down on your bread for one. So damn well give me something to stare at.
Order whatever the hell you want! There is nothing better than dining on your own. (Apart from dining with LMM obviously) But you can eat what you want without having to share or having to deal with disparaging looks when you order the cheesecake having just eaten your own body weight in meat.
Dining on your own is one of life's true pleasures, just as dining with someone you love is, so treat yourself and do it now. Eat for one and tip for two. [Ahem cough cough] I'm still a waiter with needs you know......
Any other advice?