Table For One

Queuing at a restaurant. Chattering couples and small groups signal to the maître d’ generally with a hand wave of the number of seats sought; the busy places readily question “have you a booking/reservation” which I think is a challenge for tourists who may not necessarily knowing in advance the places to book.

When it’s my turn the “Table For One” can either be by way of a statement from me or a question from them when it is obvious I’m standing alone. Heavily booked places have single seats at the bar, other restaurants have an “express” option whereby if you can get in and out quickly you get a discount; an advantage perhaps of not having to spend time chatting to a companion while eating.

Sitting alone can provide an opportunity to chat to the staff although often they are pressed for time with many tables to serve. Personal reflection is interleaved with overheard conversations from nearby tables as couples and groups discuss today’s adventures and tomorrow’s planned deeds.

Eating itself happens relatively quickly when there isn’t a discussion to be had. To prolong the event I’ve taken to browsing social media and the news. Sacrilege at the dinner table perhaps yet as digital is my companion perhaps it is forgiven.

As it is dinner I consume content, not create it. My writing is quite slow so my meal would be cold. Ideas do come though, like the entree, main, and dessert. Stories form, flavours develop, and in rare cases linger long enough after the meal to allow me to later transcribe. The Table For One becomes a catalyst for creative exchange with parts of my brain free to chat with itself and draft whimsical ideas.

The above is the silver-lining stuff to which I am prone. A Table For One can be lonely. Perhaps the staff engage in a chat because they feel sorry for the sod sitting down alone ordering a three course meal and a drink or two. Holidaying alone which I’ve done very rarely is an interesting exercise in keeping the mind active and the emotions in check when there isn’t another to act as a foil, to decompress the adventures of the day over a meal and a drink.

A return to normality after the holiday will reduce the frequency of Table For One bookings and perhaps when that happens I’ll miss the solitude. Time will tell.

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