I'm Going to Die and Dine Alone
I'm lonely. I'm alone. I'm alone and I'm lonely. But that doesn't mean I have to eat alone. This is where Ruby Tuesday comes in. My date. My companion. A friend. For the night. Or day, in this case. A hokey mediocre chain restaurant can provide the comfort of a much sought after good friend if you try a bit. I wasn't exactly alone. I did have my phone. But scrolling through Facebook and constantly checking email (no one is emailing me) hardly counts as true companionship. I was alone.
It's comforting that the Ruby Tuesday at Liberty Place in Philadelphia is essentially the same as the one in Pike Creek, Delaware. The menus at least. Yes I will be having the Italian 5 cheese skillet at either location. The clientele consisted of what one would expect of a Ruby Tuesday on a late Wednesday afternoon in the middle of Center City. Middle-aged women, middle-aged men, and a few middle-aged couples. I began to realize that this is THE place for middle-aged people, and I had no business being there. But I was still nonetheless seemingly not judged by the patrons or the bar staff.
Instead of secluding myself in a booth I chose to sit at the bar. The bartender was attentive enough. I did get a smile or two. That’s really all I require to be placated through a dining experience. At one point, the cute male bartender was within arm’s reach as he washed glasses in the sink. I refrained from reaching out to touch him. I am a lady after all and I do have some restraint. At the bar, I had a good view of a man who proceeded to cut up his steak into small pieces before eating them, like a five-year-old’s mother would (the steak looked plastic). At one point, a man who looked like the restaurant manager called out “Brooklyn!” and I turned and looked because I had briefly lived in Brooklyn once. He was not, in fact, talking to me. (Brooklyn turned out to be the name of an employee of the restaurant).
It's all well and good to eat out alone, but after a while you look around and wonder: Where my ppl at?! No really. where are you. I'm alone and my heart hurts. LOL. But I suppose I’m never truly alone. I had my iPhone, and my notebook. Still, I thought of texting the guy who had said “take care” at the end of our last date. I decided against it because “take care” is mostly a nice way of saying “I want nothing to do with you again whatsoever.”
After a bit of looking around at the other patrons, I lost myself in the task of completing the queso con chips I had ordered (the cheese being of highly questionable quality). As unsexy as I looked all by my lonesome, I did not feel judged at all. After a while I found myself thinking that it's actually quite comfortable here. I start to think that I could live here even. There is something about this kitschy chain restaurant that made it hard to leave. Overall, I had a decent time, but my depression hunch hadn’t really straightened during the entire time. My loneliness had abated a bit, for at least an hour or two, so I would say it was a successful outing. I’d have to conclude that there is really nothing going on at Ruby Tuesday and no reason to dine here. Alone.
Jia Din lives in Wilmington, DE. They perform standup comedy in Delaware and Philadelphia. They studied English literature and journalism at the University of Delaware where they received a B.A. They have published numerous articles for community newspapers. Instagram: @jiamdin
Cover photo by Arthur Chauvineau