Today, it was just me, myself and I again for dinner. As if I’m not used to eating alone.
Outside of feasts during family gatherings and holidays, and the occasional romantic dates, eating has ceased to be a social activity for me for quite sometime now. It’s just this perfunctory activity that I try to do with the least possible energy usage, brain cell depletion, and emotional investment. I just go through the motions in order to sustain my physiological needs and that’s it. I’m more like a paramecium really. Quite unlike the others who spend so much time eating, not only to savor the gustatory delights of the set repast, but to catch up on the life events of those present at the table or gossip about those who aren’t. For many, eating alone is the saddest thing that can ever happen. For me, a table for one means less dishes to wash.
My utter disdain for mealtime conversations comes from two things: school and family.
For most of my grade and high school life, my day began pretty early – as early as 6 AM. Given the choice between sleeping an extra 15 minutes then rushing through my breakfast or waking up early to have a leisurely morning meal, I significantly recalled choosing the former. Add the fact that recess in school often included doing academic stuff as well, obsessive-compulsive and non-sporty that I was. In so doing, school effectively erased my need for human contact during meals.
Family. I have always hated conversations over family dinner. Every second of it is a torture. It’s best to not elaborate on this one. But succinctly put, as much as possible, I try to elude family dinners.
So eating alone is never a problem for me. It is one of the rare moments during the day that I can truly say is mine, and mine alone. I can eat wherever I want to, whatever time and pace. I don’t have to feign nonchalance with the arrival of the menu and the anticipation of the fact that I will shell out my allowance for the week at the end of a crappy meal. At least I won’t have indigestion listening or contributing to mindless talks of people at my table (and I can focus on the affairs of people in other tables!).
It can really get lonely sometimes though. Especially if you’re in a class of 90 people and nobody thought of asking you if you want to have lunch or dinner with them. No matter how long they take to decide where to eat, no matter how long they take to eat, no matter how mundane their talk is.