It’s singular pleasure of mine to have the freedom to eat and drink alone in bars and restaurants, regardless of others sometimes viewing such an activity as anti-social, rude or (boo-hoo…) downright sad. That poor man… etc.
I exceed the social limits. I go EVERYWHERE with a book, and I can’t see what’s wrong with reading one in a pub on a Saturday night. I enjoy eating alone or in company, and I often go to films alone. Despite this, I’m still a social animal, secure in my skin, and I never feel like a loser.
But society never gives up on this. One strange example is how couples sometimes sleep in separate beds, for whatever reason. How many don’t, I wonder, simply because they’re worried that others would judge their relationship in a negative light? What business is it of anyone to pass conjecture on how you live? This makes no sense, of course: if someone else was in my bedroom monitoring my sleeping habits, I’d be the first to reach for the handily-placed piece of 2 x 4 near me and begin dispensing summary justice. Very effectively. However, such ingrained judgements continue to persist.
Ignore the “rain on your parade” zealots. If that’s what you want to do and you’re cool with it, then carry on with eating or drinking or movie-going or gig-attending alone. You’re more likely to enjoy it, and without spouting a load of peppy, upbeat crap about how, in heading out solo, you’re coming across to others as self-assured and psychologically secure and how they envy you, there will be fewer distractions and you’ll personally enjoy the experience much more.
So when you’re in such a situation, look around and observe your fellow people. Are they focused on you? Maybe, but doubtful. They’ve quite probably got their own issues to deal with, and they’re too bound up with these to think much about you either way. That guy two seats away is worrying about whether he’s going to get that promotion, (perhaps young Colin might just beat him), the woman at the corner table is questioning her sanity, wondering why she ever got hooked up with the idiot sitting across from her, and the three slightly pissed students over there are each trying to look interested in the others’ anecdotes, while they wait to unleash their own.
So you’re in the clear. And it’s this very fact – that they’re so wrapped up in themselves – that liberates you to stroll up to the bar, order a gin and tonic, open your book, and step out of the world for an hour or two.