Rewriting societal standards on eating alone

Jane Adams

A girl’s gotta eat.

That means more than just chocolate cake and Oreos.

Because cooking is not my forte, meals are either a can of a soup, salad or West 82 lunches with Post Pillow Talk columnist Mallory Long.

Don’t worry, the irony of our friendship does not escape me.

The other afternoon, I returned home from class and realized a mini-pizza of raw cheese, spaghetti sauce and English Muffins would not do it for me. I needed my favorite restaurant. The queen of Mexican food, the Dalai to my Lama, the adhesive strip to my paper cut.

I needed Taco Bell.

If I had a significant other, I would call him at this point and use all means of emotional bribery so he would take me out for that beloved Gordita Crunch sans Baja sauce. But, I am single, so mustering tears and screaming, “You’re tearing me apart,” was not necessary at this point.

Instead, I expended the energy I’d use convincing a boyfriend to take me to Taco Bell by walking to my car and climbing inside. Believe me, this was a big effort considering the amount of snow covering the ground.

I drove carefully through the streets of Athens while screaming things like “YOU IN THE JANSPORT BOOKBAG, I WILL EQUALIZE YOU,” at five or six students who dove in front of my car like they were Iron Man. That has to be a record low for me, as road rage has become something of an artistic outlet for my stifled soul.

Anyway, back to the point.

I arrive at Taco Bell, and instead of using the drive-thru, I dine in. I should enjoy the whole eating out experience. I mean, plastic trays, neon menus, paper cups … Be still my beating heart!

Taco Bell might not be a five-star restaurant, but it is a five-minute food factory. Before I know it, I am settled in at a nice booth with my low-grade beef dinner. I would be lying to you if I were to tell you that other people didn’t stare at me. I was, after all, a young girl, sitting at a table in Taco Bell, alone. I know, I know.

Society declares if you eat alone, you should be embarrassed because you are a loner. Still, I like it. There is something so liberating about sitting down with a good meal and silence. I sometimes have a tiny urge to get up and shout, “I don’t need a man,” at the other people in the restaurant.

But I don’t, because I am fairly certain that I would progress from harmless loner to scary weirdo if I were to scream such things.

Instead, I open up Mansfield Park, as I always carry a book with me for situations such as these, and settle in to enjoy my delectable dinner. And delectable it was.

The food was good enough that I couldn’t stop myself, and I finished it all before making it through three pages of my book. After only ten minutes in my favorite restaurant, I dumped my trash in the classy receptacles and walked back to my car. As I climbed in, I turned to look at my own personal food savior one last time and noticed a male cashier smiling at me from inside.

I thought back to our earlier interaction and remembered he was extra careful to make sure I had all the sauces I needed to accompany my meal. For a second, I paused and wondered if I should return to ask for his phone number.

The promise of each day being an all-you-can-eat Taco Bell buffet almost overwhelmed me, but then I remember he looked like he was 16 years old.

One thing I know for certain is that they don’t have Nacho Supremes in the female correctional facility.

The above column was originally published Feb. 21 by Ohio University’s The Post.