I had dinner with a dear friend tonight. I was a few minutes early so I organised the table. It got me thinking about the many women who dine alone in restaurants…

As a single woman dining alone, the hardest thing, believe it or not, is getting from the door to the table. The waiting staff, occupied with serving drinks and delivering meals and taking orders and clearing tables, may not notice the slender woman, silver-haired, standing in the doorway.

She waits, wondering what else she needs to do to attract attention other than wave and smile and nod. And wave some more. Interpretive dance, maybe? She has heard of the invisibility affliction. It is a malaise that affects women of a certain age – usually around 50 – and it causes them to become unseeable. The malaise strikes most frequently when women attend restaurants, bars, shops, pubs and clubs alone. She wonders if she has been infected with this particular affliction when she walked into this particular restaurant.

Ah. She has been sighted. Noticed. Not before time. A handsome young waiter with heavily tattooed arms and a hipster bun makes his way over to her, all business and menus and seating arrangements. She breathes a sigh of relief as he shepherds her to a table, pulls out her chair, allows her to sit and places a napkin in her lap. She orders a drink – white wine – and it is carried to her promptly in a large balloon of a glass, chilled and frosty. She peruses the menu, checks her smart phone, people watches. She orders. She drinks. She eats. She drinks some more. She is content, interested, occupied. Satiated.

She has always maintained that getting to the table is the hardest thing when dining alone.

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