Hey, this exists! Invite For a Bite, a new online service that seeks to pair women who are insecure about going out to a restaurant and eating by themselves with equally insecure dinner dates. As much fun as a conversation between two people like this might be, why in the world should anyone — man or woman — feel insecure about eating alone? I do this all the time! Am I weird? Am I an alien? Am I magic? What is so different about me that other women apparently fake cell phone calls to make it look like someone loves them? And why is this site only for women? Because I can tell you from firsthand experience that there are tons of insecure dudes out there who probably feel the same way about eating alone. Everyone, let’s have a heart to heart about this, and allow me to explain the perks of dining solo. Besides getting to eat the food on which you are spending your cash money without any comments from the peanut gallery.
Every time I tried to access the Invite For a Bite site to write this post, the site was not working. Maybe because they are the subject of some minor internet mockery, like here and here. But before dispensing with some of my own mockery, let’s find out more about why something like this would exist and confirm the fears of women with irrational fears.
Designed for otherwise successful women on the go, Invite For a Bite was created for women — yes, only women — who hate, and I mean hate, eating in restaurants by themselves. While some women may cite personal safety following a traumatic event as the reason for not wanting to go out alone in a strange place (something entirely understandable), this is not how IFAB is selling itself. Instead, it’s pushing the idea that dining along makes a woman appear lonely, weird, or perhaps unloved in public. As if there was something wrong with walking into a place that serves food by oneself. Apparently, there is a lady quota, and every lady must be accompanied by at least one additional lady or gentleman. Otherwise, she looks like she must be one of those pathetic women whose only companion is covered in fur and fits in one’s lap or appears only on television. Really. From CNN:
Rochelle Peachey, the founder of the dating site I Love Your Accent, is sitting alone in a restaurant, gabbing away on her cellphone, when a few minutes into the conversation, the phone she’s talking into starts to ring. Busted!
Such is the length Peachey once went to in order to battle the embarrassment and awkwardness she — and so many female business travelers like her — feels when dining alone.
“I detest walking into a restaurant to request the dreaded table for one,” says Peachey, who typically makes three or four business trips a month. “When I walk into a restaurant or bar alone, I feel others see me as either a woman out to pick up men or a sad, lonely spinster.”
Well, if we started to count all the problems with that sentence, we’d be here all night. So, on with the mockery! Because in addition to faking cell phone conversations with invisible friends (because that’s definitely less weird than eating alone), here are the lengths to which IFAB wants you to know that women have gone avoid being seen eating alone: eating at off-times when there are no crowds of peers (just the elderly seeking out the early-bird specials and the blind drunks going for the salty latey-bird specials, I guess), finding tables in the back of the restaurant, ordering (probably cold) room service (yay, saddest tuna sandwich ever!), or skipping meals altogether. Well, at least you’ll lose all that weight that’s making you look like such a sad, ugly crone! (THAT WAS SARCASM, EVERYONE.)
The creator of the site, Cressida Howard, also explains why this site is for women only:
“As soon as you introduce the idea of men and women meeting for meals, it becomes almost impossible to distinguish it from a dating site. No matter how many times you explained that it wasn’t, common sense dictates that it would be treated as such by some people.”
Because men and women can’t be platonic friends! Humans are totally unable to control their sexybits! Men also don’t want to hear about your feelings, because they are men, and they are allergic to conversations. (THIS IS ALSO SARCASM.) Besides, in Cressida Howard’s world, only women have this adorable quirk, or else she’d be doing this for guys, too.
But seriously, girls, let’s talk about this. Why don’t you want to dine alone when it can be so much more enjoyable, even meditative, than trying to shoehorn a conversation in between bites? (That might give you gas, anyway!) The only person looking at a solo female diner and judging them IS AN ASSHOLE. And you should not be concerned with assholes. I’m telling you, my little dandelions — dining alone is wonderful. You should do it more often, even if you are a social butterfly with many loved ones with whom you love to spend time. The more time you spend alone, thinking your own thoughts (maybe getting them out on paper, or typing them up, or sketching, etc.) the more complete you become. (This hippie moment has been brought to you by hot yoga.) Sure, dinner with friends is fun. Of course it is! They are your friends! But if no one is available and you want to let someone else serve you a fancy dinner, you should be going for that. Here are a list of great reasons to dine solo:
1. If your phone does ring, for real, you will not have to politely excuse yourself from a conversation in order to take the call. You can take that call, and just use your “quiet restaurant voice.” Or turn the phone to silent (or off, if you’re feeling crazy) and keep it off the table.
2. You can eat your amazing meal, uninterrupted. And it can have onions, garlic, or any other potent ingredient that would normally make you self-conscious about your breath or get stuck in your teeth. You can also order whatever you want without having to share. Go ahead! Be selfish! Imagine you are a queen, with the waiters as your trusty royal servers. Everyone else in this restaurant is a co-dependent loser eating a salad — you can demolish that steak and then order dessert. No one is going to judge you, you will be a hero. To yourself.
3. No arguing over the check. No math during dinner. You get the check, and you know exactly who is paying for it: you. The Queen will take the check. The Queen has rewarded herself with a hearty meal, and now she will pay and express her gratitude. Because you can also leave a nice tip for the person who took care of you that evening, knowing that you were a delight and you did not have a rude companion to complain about anything and ruin the night, and then flake on the bill. Or a cheapskate who doesn’t believe in tips. (Unless you are a cheapskate who doesn’t believe in tips, in which case no one will be there to call you on it! This works for everyone.)
4. No. Waiting. No waiting for anyone to show up, no waiting for anyone to order, no waiting for anyone to finish. Aside from the reservation, you come and go as you damn well please.
Listen to Aunt Jamie, who is not a bitter old spinster, but a content and young spinster — you are a lovely little snowflake who deserves You Time. No one worth your time cares if you eat alone, and for all you know, they might be jealous of your freedom. My only advised restriction is to not get drunk at your solo dinner, unless you take public transportation home. But try it — take yourself out to dinner. And revel in focusing on yourself for once.