Tonight, I decided to throw caution (and social norms) to the wind and take myself on a date. If it had been an evening planned by someone trying to romance me, I would have politely declined any further communication and possibly looked into a personal protection order, but since it was my first try and there was nobody there to judge me, I think it went pretty well.
The idea was to ease into the situation by going to the restaurant where my sister serves so I could hide my aloneness under the guise of a simple sisterly visit. After a quick stalk of the parking lot I realized her car wasn’t there and panicked for a hot second before begrudgingly deciding to hop up to the Applebee’s bar instead. Lone people don’t get to sit at tables. We have to sit at the bar with the other loners and struggle with the space between our chest and our plates like it isn’t awkward to support your entire body weight on the lip of the bar in order to put food in your mouth. I began by ordering a top shelf Long Island Iced Tea, because I’m worth it. And house-liquor gives me a poor people headache. After drinking half of it and making a Sophie’s choice between spinach dip and riblets, I decided to be bold and go for the meat. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone, so eating with my hands and risking a sauce-beard was definitely on the table. I tore through those mini-ribs with both hands and unabashedly licked rogue sauce off of my fingers one by one, making eye contact with some of the other early evening loners across the bar. It got weird. But I liked it. I didn’t care if those people thought I was gross because they were getting drunk by themselves before 6pm and they were on a first name basis with the trashy Applebee’s bartender. After I had stripped the tiny shards of bone of any remnant of meat I threw a twenty on the bar like I owned the place and sauntered out to my next destination. A solo movie.
Since I had a gift card to blow, I didn’t even flash my extremely expired college ID to the ticket purveyor to save a few bucks on admission. I went big and paid the whole $10 without even flinching. Baller. I said the words that are so hard to say, “one for ‘We’re the Millers’” and confidently handed over the plastic. The teenager behind the counter looked at me for a moment and said, “Ok. Ticket for one” with smugness and youthful bitchiness in her eyes while I smiled and thought of nothing but the popcorn I was about to inhale. When you’ve got gift card to spend and nobody who might try to stealthily hold your hand (or upper thigh) later, you go balls deep in a bucket of popcorn. I also got a liter-a-cola and some Reese’s Pieces to round out the experience. The combination of those things is heavenly yet embarrassing because the best way to eat them is to put them all in your mouth at once. Popcorn, candy, soda and shame living together as one. Divine.
I sat down without having to do the “you go first” dance at the foot of the stairs and promptly spilled my popcorn all over the floor. I thought briefly about pretending it didn’t happen and just calling it a loss, but I was there to enjoy myself, dammit. I marched out of there with my half-empty bag and told the first youth I saw that I had spilled my delicious treat and asked if he could top me off. He obliged and then asked if I was ok, wondering if I had perhaps fallen and spilled my popcorn. I told him I was fine, I didn’t fall, I just basically threw it on the floor. On my way back to the theater I passed a small, unaccompanied child who asked me what movie I was seeing. He was visibly disappointed after I told him and let me know that I had made a terrible decision. Shows what he knows. I enjoyed the rest of the movie in peace and laughed raucously (sometimes all alone) at some pretty clever jokes, patted myself on the back for getting the jokes and settled into the satisfaction of not having to explain them to someone who was sliding their hand at a snail’s pace toward my body. When the movie was over, I got up, walked out and went to my car without having to linger for someone to use the bathroom, find their keys or marvel at movie posters. I just left. It was great.
All in all, my me-date was a success. Was I a mess? Oh yeah. But who cares? I still like me. And I think there will be a second date. As long as I put out.