Don’t take a seat at the bar! That’s the trap seat for the single diner. You may receive attentive service, but you’ll also receive appetizer portions, buy one too many stiff drinks, and be crowded out by loud hipsters who seem to be made entirely of elbows.
Be tempted by the wine list. In fact, you’ll definitely want to guzzle a glass of wine before heading out too. It’ll boost your confidence so you can grin at the hostess slightly more rakishly, meaning she’ll look on you with pity slightly less noticeably.
Take a look around. Is anyone else eating alone? If anyone is, don’t make eye contact! As soon as you acknowledge the presence of another lone diner you form an unspoken, unbreakable bond. Before you know it, every time you look up you’ll find yourself immediately locking eyes with the greasy, rat-tailed nerd across the room. Or maybe it’ll be a an ancient widower, eating soup so slowly that the liquid has solidified. Rest assured, though, the other lone diner will never ever be a smoking hot babe. Everyone knows they move only in packs.
Maybe you’ll see a couple on a date, silently checking their phones. That will make you feel better.
Order something extravagant. If you’re on a business trip then, duh, expense account. Yes, I would like the largest cut of steak with all the fixings. If it’s just date night with yourself, ordering extravagantly proves to the wait staff that you’re independently wealthy and don’t need to dine with other human beings because of the gobs of money back home that keep you company.
If the tablecloth is paper, try not to ask for crayons. Unless the waitress is cute and you’re feeling clever and you pounded three or four glasses of wine before the meal. Hell, if you’re three or four deep already, draw on whatever you want.
Try not to stare when a group of terribly attractive girls sits down at the table next to you. Yes, they are probably your age. Yes, they seem to glance your way frequently. Yes, there’s an empty seat at their table where you would fit in nicely. Have another glass of wine: Either it will numb your feelings or provide the impetus for you to slip into the vacant seat.
Everyone around you is getting soup. Why didn’t you start with soup? Expense account, god damn it, you’re better than this.
If it’s awfully loud, you’ll wish there were fewer diners. If it’s awfully quiet, you’ll wish there were more. Either way, you’ll let off a few proud farts confident that none of these strangers will blame you.
If you’re fortunate, there will be an open kitchen and you’ll have something to look at. If you’re unfortunate, you’ll spend the majority of the time staring at your phone. Don’t stare at your phone! Nothing screams “KILL ME I’M ALONE” more than staring at your phone while alone. You’ve been to parties, to bars; you’ve seen that guy who’s been “waiting for my friends” for hours, ceaselessly checking his phone, leaning uncomfortably against the wall next to that couple who are aggressively hooking up. Don’t be that guy.
It sure is taking a long time for the food to arrive. You’d think they’d focus on you, with your expensive order, your obvious aloneness. “Let’s get this guy out of here,” the wait staff must be whispering as they congregate near the kitchen.”He’s bringing everyone down.”
I’ll bet if you swirl your wine you’ll look extra cultured.
Savor your meal when it finally arrives. Don’t look up. Don’t read. Focus on the food. This is what you miss out on when you dine with others. Take it all in. Taste that? It’s probably salt. But it’s delicious.
Graciously ask for the check as the waitress clears your plate. It’s a good idea to get the fuck out of there before someone calls the orphanage insisting you’ve recently escaped.