Monday, November 20, 2006

Table for One?

I'm very lucky to have a great job for an employer who sends me all over the country with a generous expense account. I enjoy seeking out restaurants unique to the city I'm visiting (No Applebee's and other chains for me!)

The downside to this great fortune is that I often find myself dining alone.

It's rather tedious to while away the time in a restaurant watching other tables receive their food, or overhearing the conversations at nearby tables. In a casual or fast food restaurant I wouldn't hesitate to pull out a book or a newspaper, or even a laptop computer if I had one.

However, in a finer dining establishment, it seems boorish to stick my nose in a book or spread a newspaper on the table. (While it might be a good use of time to catch up with friends or with my mother, I wouldn't think of using my cell phone in such a situation.)

What do you all think? Is it acceptable to entertain oneself by reading in this setting? Or is it perfectly rude?

To add further consternation to the dilemma, I would hate to give the impression to some handsome and delightful single gentleman, that I'd be adverse to striking up a conversation. Or from having any other charming solo diner join me for a meal. (This is rare I know, but I have been fortunate in the past. The prerequisite, hinging on the stranger being delightful!)

Any suggestions for passing the time other than reading and rereading the specials? Or possibly tinkering with the candle on the table?