Dinner for One

The world malfunctioned this morning – instead of deciding to rain, or to be sunny, it got stuck on the “sprinkler” setting, and drenched the world with a fine mist. It was the kind of fine mist that results in a refreshingly different “just climbed out of the river” look when you arrive at a client’s office in the shirt and tie that looked quite smart twenty minutes earlier.

The day went well. Yada yada yada – can’t tell you any more than that.

After swimming back to the hotel this evening, calling home, having a shower, and putting some warm dry clothes on, I wandered down to the hotel restaurant. The completely empty hotel restaurant. Where was everybody ? I looked at my watch. Oh. 5:35pm.

Within moments I had been furnished with a menu, ordered a drink, and left to cogitate over what I might order. I know this is a first world problem, but I could really have done with something heartwarming and stodgy – instead I had to pick from some chicken thing, some fish thing, or twenty different sorts of steak. I chose the chicken thing.

I ate alone. Completely alone. Not just sitting at a table on my own – I had the entire restaurant to myself. Two members of staff busied themselves with polishing things several times while I threw food into my face, checked out your various antics on the interwebs, and sipped at my drink.

At some point – I’m not entirey sure when – I looked up from my phone and discovered several other people had appeared. I wondered how they got there. I couldn’t remember anybody being seating while checking out the latest selfies, stories, and tales of depravity from Twitter, Tumblr, and WordPress. Maybe a few of the photos posted by far flung friends had attracted more of my attention than I thought.

My fellow diners were almost exclusively pretty women, sitting alone at tables dotted around the restaurant. I have a theory behind this. I think women travelling alone dine early to avoid unwanted attention from ass-hat middle-aged men having “business meetings” later in the evening. I dine early because – well, because why not? If you have nothing else to do all evening, why would you wait until later? I sometimes end up staying in hotels with co-workers, and if they suggest a late dinner it kind of drives me nuts.

Here’s where I admit to being talked into a pudding by the serving staff. He had me at “would you like to see the pudding menu, Sir?”. I didn’t need it, and felt bad about it afterwards, but holy crap was it good. Note to self – next time a restaurant has no brownies left, go for cheesecake.

When I asked for the bill it transpired that my presence (with my card) would be required at the bar – they had no clever hand-held card readers. I wandered up, and was joined by a pretty girl who left her table at the same time. She was ordering a drink rather than summon the waiter. The thought crossed my mind that she had done it on purpose, and would next try to strike up conversation with me. Then my rational mind kicked in and I reminded myself that no – she would not do that – that’s the kind of thing middle-aged businessmen do to women dining alone, which causes them to dine early. After paying I walked past her, and she glanced up and smiled.

Have you ever seen Walter Mitty ? I’m sure another ending to the scene should probably have happened in my head – but I was too busy getting to the elevator in the most calm manner possible.

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