I’ve often wondered about when I would ever find the courage to eat alone at a restaurant. With the impending divorce and decided lack of friends in Dallas, I knew it was inevitable. It was just a matter of when.
Usually I choose to get my food to go and huddle in my apartment, where I still feel lonely, but much less of a lonely freak because I’m not on display as the lonely, lonely freak I am.
Last night when I was driving home from work, all I could think about was how hungry I was, and how I couldn’t wait to begin eating the second I got home.
(It should be noted that I get off work at 6:30 p.m. On a good day.)
(And that I forgot to bring a banana yesterday, which is my afternoon snack.)
That’s when I encountered the traffic from a local 5K, which takes place on a trail that divides Uptown from Downtown. I work Downtown. I live Uptown.
I get stuck in this 5K traffic every. single. year. I moved to Dallas exactly five years ago tomorrow, and I got stuck in the 5K traffic that very first day I was a Dallasite, starving to death, sitting in a car with a pizza on my lap that simultaneously was rapidly cooling and burning the hell out of my thighs. I don’t know why they always have this 5K take place DURING DINNER SOME PEOPLE LIKE TO EAT AND HAVE TO CROSS THE TRAIL TO DO IT!
My then-boyfriend (future ex-husband) wouldn’t let me eat a piece of pizza because he wouldn’t let me eat in his car, which he totaled later that year.
Upon seeing the traffic and remembering that today is the day every single year when it is impossible for me to reach my house/food in a timely manner, I did what any sane adult would do.
I went to go eat chicken curry. Alone.
And, because I’m badass and also stupid, I ordered it extra hot.
So there I sat alone in the restaurant, huffing and puffing and drinking my way through my extra hot chicken curry, and because I was alone and didn’t want to look pathetic and had also forgotten to bring the book I’m currently reading (Portnoy’s Complaint) with me that afternoon, I took out my notebook and began writing down my observations of my first experience eating alone, namely that the second I started writing as I was eating, the proprietor of the restaurant assumed I was a food critic or maybe from the health department and began eying me suspiciously.
I had a moment of crisis when my water ran out and I desperately needed some more because OH GOD SO HOT, but I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do with my purse because I was alone and didn’t have someone to guard it for me. Was I supposed to leave it at the table? Take it with me to get more water? Ask a neighbor to watch it?
I ended up leaving it, but not without a large amount of anxiety.
The proprietor came over to ask me if everything was okay. I asked for a doggie bag and left.
This morning at 3:11 a.m., the chicken curry woke me up with harsh demands that it exit my body THAT VERY SECOND, and I was forced to choose between keeping my bowels intact and sacrificing myself to Hallway Man.
Hallway Man is a man who lives in my hallway at night. I saw him once in a half-awake state, or it might have been a night terror (which I’m prone to), there’s really no distinguishing between the two, but since half-awake states are always when people in movies are seeing ghosts, I decided not to take my chances and now sleep with my bedroom door shut and also cross myself every night when I turn out the light.
Hallway Man is very afraid of liturgical Christians.
My apartment was built in 1930. That’s a lot of tenants in between then and now, and have you ever studied the laws of space/time continuum? EVERY MOMENT THAT EVER HAPPENED IS HAPPENING ETERNALLY, WHICH MEANS I AM LIVING IN MY APARTMENT WITH ALL THE PREVIOUS TENANTS, SOME OF WHOM LIVED THROUGH THE DEPRESSION AND WORLD WAR II WHEN THE WORLD WAS A REALLY SCARY PLACE.
Hallway Man was undoubtedly a displaced Nazi. I think he was wearing a hat.
I wisely chose my bowels, threw open the door, ran down the hallway, and locked myself in the bathroom, where I underwent something not unlike the pain I went through when the chicken curry was entering my body, except worse because there are parts of my body that are considerably more sensitive than my mouth that are involved in the exiting of food from my body.
When I was done, I again had to choose between comfort and terror, namely, my bed and Hallway Man, respectively.
This time I went the calm route. I opened the bathroom door, crept down the hallway, crossed myself IN HALLWAY MAN’S PRESENCE SO IT COUNTS DOUBLE, DON’T FUCK WITH ME, HALLWAY MAN, I BELIEVE IN GOD, then slammed my bedroom door shut and dove into bed.
The rest of the night passed without event, and then today at lunch I found myself at home wondering, what will I choose to put into my stomach to make it stop making those noises?
You know what? I totes chose the leftover chicken curry. Because I’m badass and also stupid.