Saturday, September 22, 2012

MeetingTheBar: Dining Alone

Dining Alone

The fine art of dining alone
is no art at all if you
like the company, and if you
wear a favorite color and
bring along a good book --
and if the hostess knowingly
meets your eye when you say
then sashays in a black
draping garb over tights,
leading you to a corner nook
with candlelight dancing on
two smart sketches: one crab,
one dozen sea anemones.

When you dine alone smelling of
sea air and French verbena soap,
taking in the scent of culinary
promise surrounding you,
your solitude is as sweet
as the romantic love shared
at the next table, and the family
joviality ringing by the window.
There is no envy; all is well.

If you treat yourself to chef's
special entree, straying
from the beautiful confines of
the menu (and of home), a dish
so perfect arrives that — you
cannot help yourself — you
must have a picture. But the
flash is not unnoticed.

Then the waiter asks again and
again about your dining pleasure
and even the hostess stops
at your table for good measure.
You realize that they suspect
you are no ordinary diner.
So you quell all the interest,
pull back into your shell.

Returning to the fine art
of dining alone, you
break bread with yourself.
You close your eyes,
and savor the moment
when salmon and gnocchi unite,
and Jazz Sketches on Sondheim
drift beyond the warm room
into the autumn fog.

Written for MeetingTheBar: Beautiful Solitude— at dVerse Poets. 
Claudia's prompt is about one of my favorite things, and, 
where I could have written about times spent 
in absolute solitude, a dinner alone 
at the Oregon coast came to mind. 



Fireblossom said...

When I was younger, I didn't mind dining alone like this. But anymore, I can't do it. I feel conspicuous and out of place.

When I first was single again after my divorce in 2001, I set the table as I had before, and cooked and sat down and I never felt lonelier in my life. So, I got rid of the table, and started eating in front of tv. I still cook for myself all the time, though; it really relaxes me and every meal is done the way I like it! Bosco is my sous chef. ;-)

I read with interest how the picture taking made them think you were a restaurant critic! The power, don't let it change you, girl!

Helen said...

Lydia, I have no problem dining alone .. have done it many times. People watching, reading a newspaper make it work! And, of course ... dining alone In Lincoln City ~ doesn't get much better. Magnifique!

Rhiannon said...

I've dined alone on and off through the years since my divorce 17 years ago. At first I felt "strange" but then I realized I wanted it to be my "goal" to feel "comfortable" at a table with families and such all around me in a restaurant.

I realized it was my own "uncomfortable" fear I had to face..not any fear of people looking or checking me out. Once I became comfortable with myself "alone" eating in a nice restaurant, it actually made me feel kind of special and interesting. Hard to explain.

Oh well I've always kind of been a loner anyway.

How are you doing Lydia? Yes, I'm still around and thought I'd drop by, check your recent post out and say "Hi Lydia".



Don't Feed The Pixies said...

if i have to eat out alone i prefer the places where they give you a specific table, or a little placeholder - because there's always that fear that once you leave your table to go to the bar and order someone will nab it and you'll have to find somewhere new to sit - plus what do you do with all your bags etc? Do you leave them and risk someone walking off with them, or do you carry them left right and centre like a complete berk?

I also find that i'm inclined to make more effort when cooking for two as opposed to myself - i sort of don't see the point when its just me of making anything that requires any effort, but will happily make something a bit nicer if Herself is about

The part about the waiter asking again and again about your pleasure made me smile - i don't know what it's like in the US, but here you're just aware that it's part of their training to come up and ask (usually before you've had a chance to actually eat) if everything is ok - and the falseness of it all really annoys me. Mind you - UK customer service is an odd thing and I always find myself a bit lost at sea if i get served by anyone other than a grumpy teenager who clearly wishes i were dead

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

mind you - coffee shop, early morning before anyone else is in, Georgia On My Mind playing over the tannoy...that would be nice

Lydia said...

Fireblossom~ I was truly amazed to read that you would ever feel conspicuous or out of place, as I see you as so bold. And the lonely table made me sad, but am so glad that you cook for yourself (I always enjoyed that when I was single) and, of course, the bit about Bosco's role is priceless.

Helen~ You hit on an important part in this: dining alone at the Oregon coast is far better than dining alone in most other places. There's also a big difference, imho, between going by yourself to Denny's, for instance, as opposed to true fine dining...which is what I enjoy.

Rhi~ Where have you been, woman?! So good to read your comment, and I promise to drop by your blog soon. Right now it is just crazy, and I'm not doing nearly the amount of blog reading I want to do. Things should settle down in a few weeks...

Pixies~ The little placeholder idea is sort of what the table in that nook was at the restaurant I wrote about. The waiters and waitresses over here ask endlessly how everything is, but after I took the picture they were practically neurotic. I told the waiter I was not a restaurant critic and things calmed down!
Your description of the coffee shop in the early a.m. is delightful and would make a great Pixie's piece at your blog (hint hint).

bfk said...

Love this, Lydia. I'm an old Diner Aloner. What could be nicer than enjoying a fine meal and being able to watch la Comédie Humaine—just as interesting as it was in Balzac's day.

English Rider said...

Dining alone and traveling alone are a special treat for me. I like the way your small intimate supper was wrapped in the greater glory of the Oregon Coast.
Sometimes the answer to the unasked question is "Just Breathe"

Lydia said...

bfk~ I certainly love that you love this, and I most certainly loved your comment (and recall seeing Balzac on your bookshelf).

English Rider~ "...a special treat..." Yes, that is what it is for me, too. Thank you for your comment that was simply lovely.

kj said...

lydia! this is GREAT! your poetry gets better and better. this is a show don't tell in the best way.

that is a huge piece of salmon. i applaud you. i don't dine alone easily myself. i talk myself out of it. my partner JB doesn't hesitate.

but at Mr. Sushi: all bets are off. i GO!


Lydia said...

kj~ Your compliment meant the world to me! Thank you.
It was a huge piece of salmon with rich sauce and gnocchi and I ate every bit of it. :)



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