December 26, 2015

Christmas For One

"Can you do me a favor?" I asked my server. "Could you tell the hostess that if there are any more solo diners who come in and would like a table, they can sit with me?"

See, I almost didn't get that table—and when I finally did, I felt a bit ridiculous sitting there all alone, surrounded by three empty seats.

Maybe the hostess sat me there because I would be less conspicuous in the corner, but I think she was enacting her revenge for me having the gall to ask for a table by myself on Christmas night.

In fact, when I walked into the Valley Inn and announced myself as the reservation for one at 8 p.m., this woman said to me, "Oh, I'm sorry, we can't seat a reservation for one person."

"Yes you can," I said. "I made a reservation, and you're going to honor it."

Listen, I get it. It's not really fair for one person to take up an entire table that they could make quadruple as much on, but that's not my problem. I'd normally just sit at the bar if I were alone—but on Christmas night, I decided I deserved a proper table with a proper waiter and a seat with a back.  If the online reservation system allowed me to request a table for one, then I was going to get a damn table and not get relegated to the bar.

So I got stuck in the corner at a square table that felt pretty gigantic, my one placesetting not taking up very much room on those wide stretches of white tablecloth. Contrary to the offer I'd made, I didn't really want some stranger to join me, but I also didn't want some stranger to be alone—or not get a table, if they wanted one, just because they were alone.

I don't know what prompted me to feel responsible for other people's happiness on Christmas, but it had been with me all day. Earlier that afternoon, I'd walked by the camp of a homeless man and his two dogs, who were stuck sitting on a sidewalk in Hollywood on Christmas afternoon in that awful, cold wind.

Although he didn't ask me for anything, I went to Walgreens and bought some Milk Bones, a couple of ham and cheese sandwiches, and some girlie things for his female companion. At the very least, I wanted to make sure those dogs didn't go hungry on Christmas, even though they probably had no concept of it being a special day.

It was the second Christmas in a row that I haven't been able to go back East, and even though I hd no plans other than to see a movie, it was still a vast improvement over last year—when I was too depressed to get a tree, and everything felt like the end of the world.

At lunch today, my waitress didn't get my order right. The sliced tomatoes were inedible. There was a weird green spot on my English muffin that I hoped was dried avocado. And the only sit-down lunch place I could find that was open was a Denny's at the Best Western in Sherman Oaks.

But I was so grateful that that Denny's actually was open and that all those people came into work so I could eat a veggie omelette.

Most other establishments are apt to let their employees enjoy the holiday with their families, which is nice—but when they do, where does that leave people like me?

I don't know whether any of them felt responsible for my happiness on Christmas, but I do owe a debt of gratitude to all those people who worked on this day, because they all gave me a Christmas.

Related Posts:
I Won't Be Home for Christmas
No Single Riders

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