June 30, 2011

California Conversations: Table for One

"A girl as beautiful as you should not be sitting at that table alone."

I was caught. I knew the couple next to me had noticed me on their way in, but I was hoping I could slip out without a comment.

I finished signing my credit card slip, put down the pen, and said, "You're telling me."

I thought that I could get away with just that, but the woman proceeded. "In a restaurant as romantic as this..."

I looked down at our tables, and I realized that when I first walked in and was instructed by the host to "sit anywhere," instead of sitting at the smaller round two-seaters on the right, I chose the row on the left: slightly larger round tables, wide enough for two people to sit next to each other on the pillowed bench while a third could join across the way. Every other table on the side I'd chosen had a pair of plates facing the bench. Mine was littered with the dirty relics of only one place setting.

My cheeks ran hot.

"Well, I wanted to come here, and I didn't have anybody to come with, so I just came alone," I said. I'd rehearsed that line so many times already, saying it was as easy as hitting the "Play" button. "I wasn't not going to come."

"You're absolutely right," she said, shaking her head. "But why you don't have someone to come with, I don't understand."

I pulled out the "I'm new in town" card which brought on a battery of questions of where I live, what I do for a living, etc. "I'm going to try and think if I can find you someone--"

"--Someone age appropriate," I interrupted. "I'm 35, I know I look younger." I should have requested single, honest, capable of intimacy, unintimidated, adventurous, etc. but I figured "age appropriate" was at least a good start. Maybe some of those other qualities necessarily come with age.

"Right," she said. "I'm going to work on getting you a job, and getting you a man. You are too young and too pretty to be in here alone."

"Well," I said, as I collected my purse and tried to keep the tears from welling up into my eyes, "Thank you very much."

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