It happens all the time. I’m in line at a restaurant. There is a single guy standing next to me. The hostess ignores me and looks straight at him, asking him if he would like a table. No awkwardness and no surprise that he is by himself that night. Then it’s my turn. The conversation goes something like this:
Hostess: “How many?”
Hostess: (Either clears her throat or looks at me with surprise, or both) “Just you?”
Me: “Yeah, just me” (Usually with sarcasm because I can’t help myself)
Hostess: (Composes herself) “Okay, right this way”
It doesn’t stop there. Once I’m seated, I’m treated differently by the staff, from the waitstaff to the busboys. They look at me awkwardly and treat me with a covert sympathy as if I didn’t choose to be alone.
The truth is, I chose to go to that restaurant alone and I love it. I love going out by myself. I don’t have to worry about small talk and can enjoy my meal in peace. I have dined alone all over the world and savored every moment. The sad part about it is the reactions I receive from the staff of restaurants. This reaction is not reserved in just one city but has been seen all over from New York to Barcelona. What is it about a woman dining alone that is so odd? Haven’t we progressed as a society, as a world, to the point that a woman can walk into a restaurant and sit alone without receiving sympathetic stares from well-meaning people? And why do people still see it as unnatural?
It baffles me that this is the reaction of so many people. If a man can dine alone, then why can’t a woman? In my opinion, women who dine alone are the best kind of women. It shows that they are independent, self-sufficient, and able to enjoy their own company. These qualities are respected in men, and it’s high time they’re also respected in women. We can talk a big talk about women empowerment and equality, but until we are all comfortable with something as simple as a woman dining alone, then there will continue to be a battle for women to truly have the same rights as men. I look forward to the day that I dine alone and am looked at in the same manner as a man dining alone. That will be a day to celebrate!