IT’S OKAY TO EAT ALONE

Slurping on the ramen at Shinagawa Station in Tokyo. I can’t talk when I’m enjoying the ramen here. Sorry.

I know some people would rather walk off a bridge than be caught eating alone. I don’t think they know what they’re missing (I mean the pleasure of dining solo, not plunging to death). It needs to be said, and even encouraged: Eating alone can be good for you.

I might be weird for saying this, but I rather like eating alone. I’m not anti-social, I just don’t feel the pressure to be social. I get that great meals are best shared, but the best meals are those where you don’t have to share the food.

Some of us have this paralysing fear of being judged if we’re seated alone at the table. I wonder why. You should relax. You’re dining with the person who knows you best. You. No one is looking at you. Or judging the amount of salt you’re shaking into the soup. Anyway, no matter how weird you think they think you are, you’re not as weird as those who watch movies alone.

And even if they’re looking at you, you should give them a good reason to. That’s why I try to avoid looking shabby. After they check you out, they’d go back to their food. It happens every time. No one is that interesting for that long. (Unless you’re George Clooney’s soon-to-be wife. She’s got that intellectual-sexy-thing going on and she reminds me of someone in drag).

Some of us can’t bear to slouch into a restaurant alone, knowing we’d be shown the table at the corner, next to the giant shrub, facing the washroom. Firstly, what other people think of you is none of your business. Secondly, think of all the privacy, and the open-mouthed chewing you can do!

What are the perks of dining alone, you ask? For starters, I don’t need to have starters. I don’t need to chew slowly (like a polite cow) and pace myself against someone who shifts the food around on the plate. I can look at my phone without appearing rude. I don’t need to maintain eye contact. I don’t need to engage in conversation or pretend to be interested in something someone said or did. Eating is a very gratifying activity. It is how you re-fuel.

The more hectic the work schedule, the more I tend to eat alone. When you’ve had back-to-back meetings, people running to you for answers, ideas and help, and your phone going off with messages, a little downtime alone with hot food is a luxury. It is where I decompress, and collect myself. You can put me in the corner facing the IKEA painting, I’d be fine, really.