So I was going to write about this a few days ago because my time in Waikiki hasn’t really gone as planned. I was supposed to be spending the week with a friend who had to work last minute, and so I find myself wandering around tourist HELL in Waikiki bouncing between sunlit euphoria and feeling depressed as shit. I’ve met some amazing people this week, and I had an INCREDIBLE weekend, but it gets a little lonely down here in Japanese family central.
So I’ve been eating out alone, a LOT. Not just cafes. I like sitting in restaurants and having a pretty menu and being waited on. But I always feel as if the waiters linger at my table longer than the others, chatting with me, oozing sympathy over my poor spinsterhood – confirmed when I talk about my three cats at home.
And then this happened on the bus yesterday.
I was on the shuttle headed to the luau. I was the only one sitting alone in a seat. The eccentric host, Georgie, was welcoming her new “family” and listing off all the places we were from. With each destination – Arizona, California, Texas – everyone raised their hands and gave a loud “WHOOOOP!”
And then it came to little ‘ol me, decked out to the nines in my $4 Forever 21 dress.
Georgie says, “We have a special guest on this bus, family. Her name is Candice and she is from Canada. She is an individual traveller. She is travelling ALONE! ALONE! Everyone make her feel WELCOME!” And there I sat with my cheeks blazing, ready to slide under the seat and wither into dust. It’s like I have #FOREVERALONE tattooed on my forehead.
So fuck it. You know what? Fuck it. Alone doesn’t mean lonely. And if I sat around waiting for my friends to join me I’d never get anywhere. And since I can count the good experiences I’ve had with men in the past decade on one hand, I’d much prefer my own company at this point, thankyouverymuch.
Eating alone is actually my favourite part of the whole thing. It’s weird that it’s weird to everyone else. Here’s my honest guide to eating alone.
1. What to wear?
The other night I was determined to find a place to sit down for a few hours and enjoy a nice meal. That did not happen. The wait time in every restaurant along this hellhole strip* was minimum ONE HOUR. So I ambled along in my painful flip-flops until I found a goddamned Chili’s.
But I had dressed up nicely, because why not? I had done my hair and make-up and put on a nice long sundress, dabbled some rouge on my cheeks. Even if it’s just Chili’s, you can dress the part. Even if you’re swigging beer and mowing down on a steak like a hulking testosterone-machine (guilty!), you can still look good doing it.
Treat yourself grrrrrl.
2. Tell the host you want your own seat like a BOSS
I fake stunning confidence when I stroll up to a host at a restaurant. Before they can even greet me, I hold up one finger and say plainly: “One, please.” This saves them the opportunity to cock their heads slightly and ask, “Just one?” Hell yeah just one and hell yeah all those appetizers are for ME.
3. Pull out the ‘ol iPhone
While people-watching is entertaining to the extreme, I always end up pulling out my iPhone at some point so I can clearly become the too-busy-to-slow-down-douchebag you’ll find at every table, punching emails into his/her phone and having loud biz chats that you secretly want the whole restaurant to hear. “OH YAH DOLORES, THE MARRIOT IS BOOKED. TELL THEM TO BOOK THE HILTON INSTEAD. WE’LL TAKE THE TEAM THERE.”
Yesterday while eating alone at Duke’s I pretended to be booking travel accommodations and so I asked my waiter a dozen questions. Like clearly I’m important enough that I don’t have time to do this AFTER I eat.
4. Flirt your face off*
*This one usually works best with the opposite sex.
My cutie waiter at Chili’s must have felt overly sympathetic to me because he brought me a little present. Maybe they do that for all the Chili’s guests – a tiny pendant with “Hawaii” written on it. But maybe it was just for me, my own special little piece of Paradise that I can take home and put in my keepsakes box forever. Either way, I win.
You can also play up the sympathy thing. One of the workers at the luau (shown below) urged me to get my photo taken and I pouted and said, “I’m all alone!” So he took one with me instead. Aww.
5. Lie through your teeth
It does get tiresome after awhile. “Are you alone?” or “do you always travel alone?” are well-meaning questions usually posed from the ultra-tourists outside my regular sphere of travel peers. So hell, why not just lie right through your teeth? You can have a lot of fun with it. I propose the following suggestions.
“Yes! I’m just recovering from my stint in the mental ward where I was held for being a danger to society, so I’m actually advised to eat alone.”
“Oh no, my husband – have you heard of him, Mark Zuckerberg? – he’s out condo shopping at the moment. I told him I was happy with whatever billion dollar property he decided on.”
“I’m actually in the middle of an anthropological field experiment examining the eating habits of tourists in their natural environment.”
“All my friends will join me, I’m sure. They’re only four hours late.”
That last one usually gets me a few dates.
*It’s clear I’m not a big fan of Waikiki. I set up here so I could easily hop on some tours and explore the area. But I MUCH MUCH MUCH PREFER the quieter island life. No hate.