Friday, May 10, 2013


    How many times have you dined alone in your life?  Thousands probably.  You don't mind at all. Sometimes you prefer it.  Don't have to make small talk.  Or big talk for that matter.  A good book, a newspaper can offer you enough company.  Just enough and not too much.  You dread inane conversations.  Dread them.  After the Picasso lecture you are hungry and don't feel like going home.  Plus you like the egg-lemon soup they serve at Miller's.  A glass of pinot grigio, some ribs and baked potato and you're in heaven.  

    The restaurant is buzzing.  Busy this Thursday evening.  Lots of people to watch and try to decipher: who are they?  why are they here?  You can tell some of them are from out of town.  You wonder: what are they doing in Chicago?  a conference?  a shopping spree?  an illicit liaison?

    Your friend left, preferring to take the train and go back to the suburbs.  You want a good meal. Your husband chose to go home too after work instead of joining you at the lecture.  Something about stressful day and germs.  But you rather have supper first than go home and try to figure out what to eat.  

    How many times have you dined (or lunched or breakfasted) alone in your life?  So many you can't count them.  Miller's Pub offers you enough company and entertainment.  A middle-aged man sits alone at the other end of the long bench.  Eats ribs.  You want'em too.  A young woman in a blue dress takes a seat by the window.  Alone.  And then there are the big groups: loudly talking and laughing, clinking glasses, celebrating.  You sip your soup slowly; then handle the ribs one by one, the meat soft and loose, messy with barbecue sauce not too sweet.  The potato opened in half receives the pat of butter, the spoonfuls of sour cream; they melt into the white flesh.  A sip of wine in between bites to cleanse the palate before the next mouthful.  

    The waitress brings you a warm, moist towel for your hands.  You are done.  And happy.  Check please!  Always you leave a generous tip.  Always a supporter of the working class.  The evening is done.  The elevated train awaits you high up Wabash Avenue.  You'll sit by the window and watch the buildings go by, watch inside closed offices and lighted apartments.  You'll daydream about paintings and white wine and sweet ribs.  A good evening all in all.