Recently I boldly and proudly went where I’d never gone before. I went on a date. By myself. With myself. It was self-imposed solitude, New York-style. A jaunt to my favorite bar, Henry Public, alone. To the bartender, I proudly declared, “just one, please.” I ordered a salad and a glass of the house red, oh, and a bowl of mayo-smothered fries because when I’m by myself, I can do whatever I want. Stuffed, I strolled over to an ice cream parlor where I continued eating for two, as if there were.
Because I’m an only child, I’m an experienced soloist. (I’m also kind of selfish, but we’ll save that for another day.) After dinner, I decided to watch a movie. Just me and ten other couples, in the dimly lit weekday oasis of the Cobble HIll Cinemas, soaking up culture. I took off my shoes immediately, unbuttoned my jeans (damn those mayo fries) and just let it–all of it–hang out. Best date ever.
Later, when my boyfriend and I spoke on the phone, I felt guilty. Like I was cheating on him. And I was–with myself.
While my solo date was fun, aloneness is not inherent to Chinese food culture. Think about it: There’s a reason why round dining tables and Lazy Susans are prevalent at Chinese restaurants. It’s because Chinese food is designed to be eaten communally. Even takeout is better shared. With more mouths, you can split the beef and broccoli, the chow mein, and string beans. You’ll still wake up the next day bloated, just less than you would if you’d finished off a plate of kung pao chicken by yourself. Every meal ends up feeling like a banquet.