A recent Spoon article discussed solomangarephobia, the fear of eating alone, a condition from which I suffer. Maybe it’s because I am an identical twin and therefore unaccustomed to spending a moment by myself, but to me there is nothing as depressing as eating alone. It feels like I am in training to become a cat lady and everyone else in the restaurant knows it. When I proposed to give it a try, to eat by myself in public, I immediately started to dread the experience. I put it off for days, strategized for the best time and location, and finally built up the courage to go for it. So, earlier this week I set out for an early 11:30am lunch at Take It Away Sandwich Shop.
When I got to the counter and was asked what I’d like to eat, I was full of nerves, so much so that I messed up on my own order. UGH.
As I grabbed my soda, I noticed a guy in Take It Away sitting by himself. This made me feel better for two reasons: 1) Maybe eating alone really isn’t all that weird after all, 2) this could be my chance to have a real life meet-cute. When he invites me to sit with him (because he will), yes it will ruin the article, but it will be in the name of budding love. This really isn’t much of a competition…I’d be a cat lady no more!
After my name is called, and I went to the counter to pick up and pay for my sandwich, I heard behind me, “hey man, what’s up?” and with that my fantasy ended. A friend had come to join him.
Oh well, I got the pleasure to sit down with all my friends: me, myself, my sandwich and I. Though the experience wasn’t as bad as I’d expected it would be, I immediately felt awkward. I didn’t know if I should just stare at my food or look around the small eating area, and I didn’t want people thinking I was eavesdropping on private conversations (even though I totally was). So, it wasn’t long before I took out my phone and decided to scroll through the latest instas and my facebook newsfeed.
I noticed that my anxiety over the lack of an eating partner made me focus too much on finishing quickly and less on actually enjoying my sandwich and the flavors in each bite. This experiment showed me more than anything the emphasis I place on the social aspect of eating out, and while I realized that my fear was largely unwarranted and out of proportion with the reality of sitting alone, good company is required to make a great meal.
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