Dining Solo

Admittedly, I am claustrophobic. I’ll take a well-lit staircase over an elevator any time. Some of my friends don’t understand my fears, but then I don’t necessarily understand theirs. I’m not afraid of flying (Aviatophobia) nor anxious about heights (Acrophobia). Yet so many of us regardless of age or gender share a phobia that is rarely mentioned because it’s so easily avoided: Solomangarephobia, the fear of dining out alone.

How many of us would rather buy fast food, take out or eat in our car just so we don’t have to sit alone in a nice restaurant at a table designed for four, or two, even, and draw those pitying stares of others?

Not me. There is something fulfilling about eating alone in a fine establishment. Those meals can be more memorable than ones shared with friends in four-star restaurants. When we eat alone we savor every bite, every sip, because no conversation detracts us from the pure enjoyment of eating the meal.

A couple of nights ago, Jon and I were having dinner in a somewhat formal local restaurant where conversations could be heard emanating from every table. Except one. There, a lone elderly man dressed in a slightly wrinkled plaid sports jacket, an open collar shirt and khaki trousers was eating a full course meal and drinking a class of pinot noir. On his table sat an opened small paperback book at which he occasionally looked. He ate slowly and deliberately, apparently relishing every morsel.

The key is to take our time dining, like he did. Enjoy a glass of wine, an appetizer and an entrée. Bring something to read; a book, an e-reader, a tablet, or a magazine. Any of these items – rather than our phone – show that we have not been stood up but have deliberately chosen to eat alone.

In my experience when I’ve dined alone, the wait staff is always attentive. Usually, without even asking, the host will seat me at a table near a window or facing the dining room so I have lots to see. One even gave me a beautiful photography book to peruse.

Many of us spend a lot of time by ourselves because we live alone or travel for work. We might expect restaurants to be filled with solo diners, but, unless they have counters, they usually are not. For me, I can’t wait for my next dining alone experience.

Just so long as I don’t have to take an elevator to the restaurant.

08
Jul
2013

So Thankful

 

With my daughter’s wedding now nearly two months past I am beginning to hear the most glowing reports from friends and family. Not about the wedding, per se, but about the thank you notes.

There are many indicators that we parents have raised polite, considerate and gracious adults but none so obvious and often not considered as their ability to write a thoughtful thank you note. In fact, even with pride in all of my daughter’s many accomplishments throughout her life, the recent phone calls and emails I’ve been getting from people who received a thank you note for their wedding gift have made me feel, well, thankful.

This acknowledgement has made me particularly thankful that I raised a child who appreciates what others do for her; thankful that my daughter knows, without my nagging or my instructions, exactly what she needs to say to acknowledge the generosity, and, while I’m at it, thankful that her husband, also schooled by his mom in the appreciate nature of thank you notes, shares the same values.

It’s been years since I’ve had an occasion to write thank you notes that numbered 100 or more (especially when you consider my daughter had just finished her shower thank you notes when the wedding rolled in) but I do remember how easy it was to slip into the familiar refrain: “Thank you for your generous gift. Hope to see you soon.” It’s not that you don’t appreciate the gift it’s just that the task of writing these can start to feel like a chore. What with work, schoolwork, household errands, social activities, visits to the gym, laundry…

Then you remember that the person you are thanking put effort into finding you a gift, paying for it, wrapping it, sending or delivering it, and that was just for your engagement, or your shower, or your wedding.  Taking a few additional minutes per note seems like a small price to pay. And judging by the comments I’ve received from so many people, that extra thought really makes people feel appreciated.

They certainly don’t need to thank me for Debra thanking them.

But thanks anyway.

 

 

P.S. If you haven’t heard from Debra or Matt as of yet, you will. They want to thank you properly.

 

 

03
Oct
2012

My Daughter, the Glowing Bride

 

Recycling day is tomorrow. I just unceremoniously tossed into the can a large paper calendar on which I had written every single daily task associated with planning my daughter’s wedding. The wedding was this past Sunday. The squares for the rest of the week were blank.

Thank goodness.

I’m still floating about, feeling a bit tired, useless and a little unfocused. But I’m smiling, a big, loopy, uncontrollable grin. What a weekend it has been. All those words I’ve used to describe other people’s weddings: magical, spectacular, fairytale, I can now use to illustrate my daughter’s.

She was a beautiful bride. Yes, I know. I’m biased. So, no editorial comment, just description. Petite and fair with long cascading blonde hair, framing her blue eyes and her cherubic face (just like her dad’s). Her tiny waste cinched by a charmeuse sash that created definition between the embroidered bodice with sweetheart neckline and the flowing silk taffeta Cinderella bottom, all ivory and swishy above the crinolines. The soft train was graced by a floor-length veil trimmed in pearls and tiny crystals to match the bodice of the gown.

This delicate, exquisite princess was my daughter.

Her dad might not have been around to see his little girl get married but his memory was invoked by so many this past weekend. I am certain he and our old friend, Mark, were cracking open the scotch and watching from the balcony.

So many new words have entered our vocabulary: wife, husband, married, brother-in-law, son-in-law, mother-in-law, (oh yeah, I’ve finally turned into one of those!). Words so common, yet unfamiliar. Until now.

I love my new son-in-law. With all the wedding planning, from the gorgeous museum where the reception was held to the icebox groom cake that was personally delivered from a New York bakery, my daughter and son-in-law seemed blissfully happy.

And HE is the reason my daughter was a glowing bride.

 

P.S. Love you both very much.

 

 

08
Aug
2012

Where Has All the Time Gone?

It’s been much too long since I last blogged. A lot has been going on; some wonderful, some not so wonderful.

I always ask to hear the bad news first. (Why? I don’t know. Especially since I then become preoccupied and tend not to hear the good news). But I’m a creature of habit so here goes: A few weeks ago my long-term boyfriend, Jon, had a serious fall rupturing the tendons that connect the quadriceps to the knees, on both legs. Ouch. I know. After surgery and rehab he’s now back home, but the focus of life for him, and consequently, in a much, much, much lesser extent, me, has been altered.

Both of Jon’s legs are locked securely in braces and can bend only 40 degrees (that’s up a whopping 10 percent as of our post-op visit to the surgeon this week). This of course means lots of things; notably, he won’t be dancing at my daughter’s wedding in August.

But it also means, according to the surgeon, that by the day of the festivities he should be able to participate as much as possible. He’s a trooper and an athlete so he’s already pushing through. And that’s the wonderful part. The wedding! It’s progressing nicely, though not without the normal kinks – the caterer’s representative has gotten a promotion and is suddenly not so available, the manager of the hotel where our out-of- town guests will stay and who had promised the world, stopped answering my emails. Yep, she’s gone. But, hey, the new guy seems very nice.

But I love the calligrapher, the florist, and most importantly, and unequivocally, the groom! So no complaints.

What I have learned in this crazy season of wedding planning is that it is so easy to lose perspective. To get bogged down with the details, the unnecessary worries. Is it going to rain? Does this purple match the invitation? And if I keep doing that, I’ll end up looking back on this period with regret. This should be FUN. So, screw the twists and turns and the unexpected changes.

It’s a wonderful time after all.

Besides, even with two strong legs, Jon ain’t much of a dancer.

19
Jun
2012


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