A Failure to L(a)unch


One is the loneliest number.  Especially when eating fast-food by a window seat.

Occasionally, I'll sit down to lunch with a friend from a nearby office, but on most days I am the lone-lunch ranger. I take my break at noon sharp, select my destination from a handful of Liberty Village eateries and start walking briskly towards it, to avoid the crowds of people who are strolling and chatting lackadaisically in groups of 3 to 5 to 10.

I'll occasionally wave or smile at someone as I fiddle with my phone to appear like I'm busy.  I call this one of my social survival techniques.  I'll usually choose a cafe where I can do some freelance work without the threat of techno music blasting in my ears.  On most days, I don't really feel like my reoccurring lack of lunchmates is such a big deal.  In some ways, I feel blessed that I can get so much work done in between my regular work hours.  It's not like I'm the kid in the corner of the high school cafeteria with my head down just praying that the cool kids will one day notice me. 

But yesterday's solo lunch hour was a particularly hard one to digest (no pun intended).  You see, I've been feeling a bit like a failure lately (don't we all sometimes?), like things in my life have been slow to materialize.  The loop in my head sounds a bit like this, "If you had more self-discipline you'd be thin, if you had more drive you'd be writing for a media organization on a daily basis, if you had more money, you'd be married..." It was the kind of lunch hour where I could have used a few friends to boost my confidence.  

Now before I descend into total and utter self-pity, let me tell you about the outcome of my lonely lunch.  I ended up at Harvey's ordering a poutine to try to drown out that critical voice in my head with cheese curds and gravy.  I figured I'd take the least visible seat in the house in order to duck down lest anyone spot me and say, "Hey. there's that girl with no amigos consuming a million calories in one sitting" but then I thought, "Nah, I'm taking the window seat! I'm gonna rock my loneliness (and poor meal choices) until I not only accept it but embrace it."

At that moment, a funny thing happened, I looked around and saw a slew of other loners all eating their burgers and fries without companions.  I realized I wasn't so alone in my aloneness, in my poor meal choices.  That the guy across from me with the horn-rimmed glasses could very well be feeling just as inept as I was, that he could very well be contemplating his own self-worth as he sips on his fountain soda.

Then again, he could just be contemplating how delicious his pickles are....