Party of one: Conquering the fear of dining alone

by DGO Web Administrator

Mission brief

Mission 5: Go out to dinner and a movie alone.

Objectives: Take myself on a date; treat my tummy to a nice meal; become more comfortable being alone in public.

Mission reportBetween going out to bars alone and dining alone, the latter made me the most uncomfortable. In all things, I like to feel as though I can escape at any time. This personality flaw makes me a good candidate for covert operations … or more therapy. Cocktail preparation is fast, and in the event of a speedy exit, it’s actually possible to donate the remnants of liquid poison to a thirsty stranger. In contrast, ordering a meal “for here” is an implicit investment of unknown time, an agreement to remain on site for as long as it takes for the meal to be prepared and consumed. I shivered over that sort of commitment, even more than I did when I purchased my ticket to see the movie “It.”

I picked Cyprus Café for my dining experience because it’s cozy and dim enough to feel inconspicuous. To avoid monopolizing a table that could’ve been utilized by a party larger than one during a dining rush, I went immediately after work on a weekday. I clotheslined a senior citizen and won the race to be the “earliest bird,” so I had my pick of empty tables and tucked myself away in a corner that offered a vantage point of the whole restaurant. The server read me the specials, which I always feel awkward about, because it seems impersonal to remain stone-faced while someone describes dishes that are meant to inspire some feeling and whet appetites. I now employ a tactic I picked up from observing other homosapiens: Every few beats, I’ll emit a positive reaction to whatever dish was just described – an approving nod or a wide-eyed expression of wonderment, like when a child sees their kindergarten teacher outside of school for the first time. It’s an effective way to assure everyone that you’re not a robot without making an outright declaration, which has the opposite effect and arouses suspicion. I ordered the roast turkey sandwich, one of my absolute favorite dishes in Durango. It had been haunting my dreams (in a good way) for a few weeks until I saw the movie “It” later this very same evening, and a demonic clown effectively took over haunting duties.

Fighting the compulsion to check my phone, I busied myself writing down what I was seeing and thinking, such as: If I had to choke at a restaurant in Durango, which one would I pick? In moments of peak discomfiture, my go-to move was to take a gander at a set of light switches next to me on the wall. I looked at those switches conservatively four or five times as if they were hanging in the MoMA. A woman who was also alone eventually entered the restaurant, and upped the refinement level of the clientele tenfold; by accidentally keeping my earholes open, I discerned she was aware of some specific temperature at which to properly cook a pork chop. Meanwhile, I was two tables away, stroking an imaginary beard and considering how I’m only familiar with Lamb Chop – the puppet.

When my meal arrived quickly and I took my first bite, I wanted to scream, “HAVE MERCY!” I wanted to decimate it in such a way that would’ve compelled the polished woman to leave in a disgusted huff, and complain on Yelp about the food goblin who did unspeakable things inside the restaurant. But to maintain the illusion of self-respect and decorum on this date, I made my motions unhurried and deliberate. I emulated a debutante with superb self-restraint and controlled sawing. The sandwich has hickory bacon, Brie, peach basil chutney, spicy aioli, warm pita, and organic greens; it’s freshness, sweetness, salty-savory goodness, with tasty roughage all resting on a delicious carb. At one point, I had somehow chiseled my pita bread into a fighter pilot helmet. I felt pretty accomplished and wondered if the server would’ve been impressed. Maybe she would’ve wanted a picture or something.

Full and satisfied with buttons poppin’, I stuffed myself into my car and drove to catch “It.” After taking liberties to describe cocktails and food the past few missions, I won’t further aggrandize myself by pretending to be a movie reviewer … I’ll simply say it was awesome and terrifying. I’m proud I braved this particular film alone, but at times I missed the ability to burrow my face into someone’s shoulder. Overall, it was a pleasant evening and date, and I would take myself out again (in spite of my odd preoccupation with light switches).


Outcome: Mission Accomplished

Skills Improved/Commendations: Self-date Skills, Culinary Connoisseur, (Electrical) Art Appreciation, Bravery Badge

Heart-mending Effectiveness (out of 5 hearts): ♥ ♥ ♥

Cassidy Cummings endured a poor crop yield and anticipates a harsh winter. She would appreciate a few extra lollipops during her next bank visit (for her family).


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