Table for Four

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.

Not actually me.

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?!”

“At home.”

“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!”


41 thoughts on “Table for Four

  1. Oh SO good! I love this story. One of my colleagues called me while I was in the middle of reading this and I was SO annoyed that I had to stop to take the call.

  2. Carrie says:

    Its so awkward to sit alone while you wait on someone. I totally get it. Jerkwad siblings 😉 Hope you guys had a fun evening!

  3. sisterhoodofthesensiblemoms says:

    Cute story. Love the mounting tension. Thank goodness everyone was able to enjoy their desserts because that would have been a heavy burden to carry, 😉 Ellen

  4. Hellosailor says:

    I enjoyed this story when you first posted it, although it has exacerbated my fear of going out without a phone and eating alone just in case everyone looks at me 😉 xox

  5. IASoupMama says:

    Oh, dear! I’m glad that you look at this with humor. I have been in that position before, too, and it is so darn awkward. Of course, mine wasn’t with family…

  6. lol – hope you finished the wine before they got there – put a straw in it and drained it for all to see

  7. I would have killed people or drank far too many martinis and passed out before they arrived, one of those. I also have 3 siblings and although I live an hour from my entire family I’m always the first one to arrive to gatherings. How is that possible?

  8. Great post! I hate that feeling that everyone in the restaurant is staring at you, judging you. Whatever did we do before we had cellphones to start at while we wait? I bet you won’t be forgetting yours again anytime soon.

  9. momfog says:

    I love how you thought everyone was concerned about the sad woman eating alone. It was a nice way to lighten up the mood. I don’t mind eating alone in restaurants. Probably because I have 5 kids and never get to do ANYTHING alone. Then, I don’t sit at a table for 4, either. That would be awkward since you’re obviously expecting someone.

  10. Dear Maggie,

    I’ve read this before, I’m sure I have. I remember it.

    Love Dotty xxx

  11. Margarita says:

    Oh, Maggie, it’s time to have some fun. Next time you’re at a table alone, take control of the situation: give ’em something to stare at! lol xoM

  12. kenjapurkey says:

    I don’t think your roots are that bad either. 🙂 I loved that line!! So funny!

  13. kianwi says:

    This is why I always carry my Nook with me. For some reason, if I am sitting at a table alone reading, it doesn’t bother me a bit, but if I am just sitting there, I feel awkward!

  14. This was so so funny, at least to me. It was so real. Especially when dealing with siblings, of which I have 5. Well written, great story, hilarious! I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  15. I loved the tension you imagined for the other diners. I’m so relieved they got their dessert!!

  16. Emma says:

    Timeliness is a point of contention in our family. My side is Latin. Need I say more?

  17. Mrs. P says:

    ” being stood up by family seems superior to being stood up by whoever he imagines is standing me up.”
    Aint that the truth!
    I am blessed with selfishly tardy siblings as well so I can feel your anger and frustration.

  18. The police car circling the block cracked me up. Great post.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      hahaha, thanks. I did see a police car go by but it probably wasn’t over my distress at being alone in a restaurant. Probably, but I don’t know for sure.

  19. This was fantastic! I was cracking up. The roots comment – excellent!! And I would have ordered a drink way earlier than you did and probably still punched him 🙂 Nicely done!

  20. dberonilla says:

    So funny! I laughed and laughed!
    Good job!

  21. thereedster says:

    LOVE this story – So funny. At first I felt sad, and thought it was going to take a dark turn and then, comedy happened (my favorite thing). 🙂

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