Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Table for One

table for one
Originally uploaded by
Wim Jansen

Today the kids have all been off in different directions. Each has their own idea of what a fun day in the sun should be. Each is operating on their own time table, so we have been on our own for our meals as well.

For lunch I decided to go into the hotel restaurant and sit at a table, rather than grab something by the pool. "Table for one, please."

Now the majority of the restaurant is empty at this point, so I could have been seated pretty much anywhere. The young hostess led me across the large room, over near the windows where there is a beautiful view of the various sailboats. She pulled out a chair at a small table with service set up for two, and asked if this will do. "Fine, thank you."

Before taking in the scenery around me, I reached into my backpack to take out my book, a requisite for sitting alone during the day in such a restaurant. I wouldn't be conversing with anyone, so I needed to do something as I awaited the arrival of the waiter. Once again, before I could even look around me, there he was. "A diet coke and turkey burger please."

The young waiter drifted away, and I was finally able to take in the lovely view from the large window. Yet what struck me was not so much the ocean front scenery, but the table directly across from me. It was a table for four, occupied by two happy and healthy couples enjoying their lunch. As I looked at them I saw that all four were seniors, meaning about 15 to 20 years my senior. They all appeared to be having a nice time, enjoying each other's company, on this beautiful day. I thought, how blessed there were.

As my mind, and eyes drifted away from this table I began looking out the window, where there was a row of outdoor seating. At the table just to my right, there was an older lesbian couple, sitting, eating, smiling, with their tennis rackets leaning against the side of the table. Again I thought, what a lovely couple. They are obviously both athletic, and in really good shape. Once again, I thought, how blessed they were.

These thoughts we then disrupted when the young waiter came back to my table and asked if I would like another diet coke, "yes, please."

Now I looked back at this whole scene, and thought to myself that this could be the perfect photo-opt for an AARP advertisement. All appearing to have reached retirement age. All sitting with their spouses, loving the lives that they have. From my point of view, they were living the good life.

Remember the children's magazine, Highlights? It was filled with fun games. One of them was "what doesn't belong here?"

Suddenly I wasn't feeling so comfortable in my table for one. Suddenly I felt like I didn't belong there. I looked down at my hands, and took notice of the wedding ring on my left hand. From the vantage point of these other restaurant guests, I looked like someone waiting for his spouse to join him for lunch. Yet, my spouse would not be joining me.


Now I began to feel like life was playing a cruel practical joke on me. Why did I have to sit here observing a scene that I had envisioned for Michael and I? Why did I have to be the odd man out?

Needless to say, I didn't enjoy my lunch. It tasted bland. No matter what I tried to add to it, it didn't taste any better. Metaphor anyone?

It doesn't take much to knock us back into reality. From there I returned to the pool to do some reading. But this time I was feeling so alone. This time everyone was having a wonderfully romantic afternoon. This time I as the odd tattooed man, sitting alone on a chaise lounge. This time the clouds began to shade what was a sunny afternoon. This time my perspective was tainted. Tainted by my reality.

Wow, how does that happen so easily?

I remember during my lunch thinking, maybe someone will come into the dining room, and notice me sitting alone at the table. Maybe they will invite me to join them for lunch. Maybe I will be rescued from being this sole man at the table. Maybe we will cross paths in the next couple of days, and they will say, "hi Dan, how's your day going? Would you like to join us?"

Or, maybe I'll just look for another table for one.


  1. i feel your melancholia. i am sorry your holiday is reinforcing your aloneness. i hope you get a chance to step outside late tonight and catch the waning moon - still 95% full. i hope you find you can breathe deeply of the night air and maybe, standing there for that brief time, you won't feel like you area standing there alone.

  2. Sending you hugs and warm thoughts.