(This is an old post that I forgot to publish earlier.)
Some people hate dining alone in public. I’ve been doing it since I started going with Scott to his November conferences. They usually have a Friday dinner for conference participants and while he attended the dinner, I’d sometimes go to an opera, ballet or concert solo but have a dinner by myself before attending the performance.
I try to embrace the time and enjoy the difference from dining with others. Usually I bring a book, useful for the periods when waiting for food to be served. Recently the iPhone has provided additional similar entertainment. Sometimes other diners chat with me as do servers, maybe, because they think I need company. But people watching is also a big part of solo dining.
My November 2019 trip started with dinner the first night in London where I was seated next to a middle aged couple speaking German. I thought they were arguing but then again they may have just been speaking German—I couldn’t tell. They didn’t look very happy but then, again, . . .
One of the downsides of eating alone is ordering wine. Invariably the better wines are not available by the glass. Against prudence and economy, I often order a bottle and either don’t finish it, or finish it and regret the decision the next morning.
I had breakfast at the airport in London before leaving for Rome. The guy next to me was also eating alone—but he was singing out loud to himself. That was unusual.
I don’t know Russian, but I have no doubt that during one lunch in Rome, a Russian couple were having an argument as he kept saying, “nyet” at least 10 times in a row to whatever she was saying. That incident wasn’t a solo dining observation. Everyone in the restaurant was treated to that.
In Italy, I usually seem to sit near people who speak English or Italian. At this place in Rome, the only conversation I could hear was Spanish. I have also been next to a number of people speaking French. Maybe because November is off season for English speakers?