Take Me Out

January 24, 2007 at 5:10 pm (in my head, the fam)

I am exposed. Stripped naked in a way I didn’t choose and much earlier than planned. I want to run and hide, but tucked up under covers I’d just relive the mortification over and over again in my mind. If I didn’t have a date with the pool, I would take myself out to dinner.

Dining alone always feels defiant and decadent. I would choose a place with dark walls and pale tablecloths. With waiters who don’t wear ties. With lamb on the menu. I’d take pleasure in answering “Just me” when the hostess asks how many. She likely wouldn’t do a very good job of hiding her…is it disgust? confusion? pity? curiosity? Those kinds of girls never understand. I would sit, watch, take my time. I’d order a glass of wine and sip slowly, letting it muddle my mind before the food arrived. I’d cut extra-small bites and make up stories about the other patrons. I’d order dessert and lick coulis from my pinky finger. I’d tip generously. And I’d charge it to my father.

When I lived in Boston and school/snow/work/life became too much, he’d always offer. “Go have a nice meal,” he’d say, “and charge it to me.” It was as if he knew that from 3,000 miles away, when he couldn’t offer a hug, couldn’t fix it, and couldn’t provide a fast car and the Sierra Nevada foothills, he could still comfort by making it ok to take care of myself. Because that’s what dining alone is for me. It’s nourishment for my body and my sense of self. It’s a reminder that I enjoy my own company, that no one really needs anyone for anything, that the thoughts in my head will always be mine until I choose to share them, that I can choose alone and not be lonely.

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