I have plans with my sister, her husband, and my brother for dinner. I made reservations for four at 6:30. The others met at 5:30 and would meet me at 6:30. I am first to arrive at Mother’s Bistro. The hostess shows me to a table where I look out at all the happy diners. I had left my cell phone at home; a rather liberating feeling.
I sit alone at the table.
The busboy delivers four waters to the table and asks, “You’re all by yourself?” Yes, I’m waiting for my family. A pitying smile from the busboy. The waiter arrives, “May I get you a drink while you’re waiting?” Smiling, I’ll order one when they get here.
Wait staff is studiously avoiding eye contact with me. I can’t read the menu because I forgot my reading glasses. I am alone at a table for four. I summon the waiter to ask for the time. He tells me, “6:50”. What?! “What time were they supposed to meet you?” 6:30. I told him I was waiting for my siblings — because being stood up by family seems superior to being stood up by whoever he imagines is standing me up.
I continue to wait, knowing my neighboring diners are uncomfortable with my presence alone at a table for four. The tension is mounting. Customers are averting their eyes; telling their children not to look at the lone woman diner. The hum of collective mutterings grows louder.
“Why is she still sitting there?”
“Why isn’t she pretending to read the menu?’
“Where is her cell phone?”
“I don’t think her roots are that bad.”
Old women are weeping and rending their garments at the sight of me sitting alone at a table for four. Babies are crying. People can’t eat; they stare at their plates in despair not wanting to see the lonely woman at the table for four. A police car circles the block sensing trouble inside Mother’s Bistro. The situation is spiraling out of control.
I borrow the waiter’s cell phone to call my brother.
He answers his phone and I admire his chutzpah for attempting to turn the tables on me.
“Where are you?!” he demands.
“I’m ALONE at the restaurant.”
“Where is your phone?!”
“Why don’t you have your phone?!”
“John, where are you?”
“We have a situation here.”
“What situation?” I ask. I know the ‘situation’ is John loves cocktails. My sister is punctual and I’m sure annoyed with the men for being late for dinner.
I lower my voice,”I. Am. FURIOUS.”
He assures me they will arrive in ten minutes.
I return the waiter’s phone and order a tureen of Pinot Gris to relax me so I won’t punch John in the face upon his arrival.
They arrive; there is much rejoicing. “Look! The woman alone at the table for four knows three other people and they are going to sit with her. We can order dessert now!”