Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Dining . . . With Benefits's so much better when you do it with others
Whoa….slow down there, cowpoke. This is so not the post that you think it is.

When you refer to your husband as “The Flying Dutchman” as I do because of his numerous jaunts around the globe on business (which consequently leaves you at home alone to a) have mindless conversations with the dog, b) brush up on your laundry skills, and c) wander around the house like a lost soul in purgatory aimlessly searching for your other half) you learn to live life as a part-time spouse.

Don’t get me wrong . . . it isn’t as bad as it seems. I get the added benefit of a) having more “me time” than I ever imagined or know what to do with, b) experimenting in the kitchen and he never has to know when I’ve had a monumental disaster, and c) watching horror movies non-stop, 24 hours a day if I so choose.

However, since my husband is in Bremen on business, last night was one of those nights that I simply felt I needed to be around people. Not my dog; not myself; not my alter ego. Other people. So after a quick bite, I headed out, solo, to Kona Grille for a cold draft beer and a bit of people watching.

When I arrived at Kona Grille, I made myself comfortable in the bar area, where the music was loud and some of the patrons were even louder—and it wasn’t even a Friday night (don’t these people have homes to go to?!? Pffttthhh... I should talk . . .). A high top table for three was calling my name so I slid into one of the empty chairs, made myself at home and waited for the waiter to arrive so I could order a Bud Light (Disclaimer: You must be of legal drinking age to enter the Bud Light site) draft.

How cute....a couple on a blind date with food!
To my right sat a couple on a blind date. I came about this knowledge because the male was waiting at the greeter’s station when I entered, looking lost, dazed and confused, until a slightly rotund woman with an exceptionally beautiful face walked up to him, introduced herself, shook his hand, than gave him a lumberjack bear hug that I feared would crush his ribs and rob him of life right before me. To my left sat an offbeat couple who looked like they’d rather be anywhere else except at Kona eating sushi.

As I glanced up at the television to the right of the bar, a Chase Sapphire commercial came on and the words, “Not every meal is about food” flashed across the screen. Although not verbalized, these words spoke louder to me than someone shouting to be heard at a rock concert. How telling. Although I wasn’t at Kona to dine, it dawned on me at that moment just how wonderfully fulfilling it is to share a meal with those that you care about. Friends. Family. Lovers. Hell, even total strangers at times.

A meal certainly isn’t all about the food (although good grub does run an extremely close second). The greatest benefits that can be garnered from sharing a meal with people are the companionship, the laughter, the connection, the camaraderie. And there I was . . . perched upon my bar stool . . . solo. It wasn’t so much that I was feeling sorry for myself; I was simply envious of the benefits that everyone else around me were reaping.

Aside from two lone guys sitting at the bar nursing beers that had long since gone warm, everyone else was part of a party of two, three, four or more. There were two beefcake looking guys sitting across from me on the other side of the indoor/outdoor bar sipping daintily on their colorful martinis with fruit hanging from the rim. Further down to my left was a table of six laughing uproariously and having a grand old time. In the corner, three young women cackled like the witches from Act 4 of Macbeth. I half expected one of them to mention something about eye of newt and toss a frog’s toe or something on the floor.

The point of all of this is that these people were out . . . dining . . . with benefits. Those wonderful benefits mentioned earlier. I like to think that most people have some subtext of social outreach purely by nature. It’s intrinsic to want to reach out to others. What better way to socialize than with food? We all need it to survive. Sure, we need air, too, but can you see yourself saying to your buddies, “Hey, let’s get together this weekend and breathe,”?

Food is the great equalizer. Yeah, being a lover of cuisine, I can say that. But I can also say it because I believe it to be true. Hey, would I lie to you?

My circle of friends in Stamford is far from that which I had amassed after nearly 21 years in Atlanta. At times [TISSUE ALERT: sappy emotional moment approaching in a nanosecond], it does get lonely, not having that type of support system, especially for a person who likes to think of herself as a social butterfly. So when I do get the opportunity to dine with others, I jump at it. Hmmm…that could probably explain why I’m on a diet . . .

Anyway, I welcome the social aspect of dining with benefits. Good food shared with good people…it’s one of the things that makes life so much fun.

So when do you plan to engage in dining . . . with benefits?

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