Last night, while sitting alone, eating a post-gig dinner, in a Bristol curry house I realised that there’s something wonderful about doing a normally-social activity on your own. Whether it’s going to the movies, eating at a restaurant or having sex, flying solo can be such a liberating experience. You’re suddenly in complete control of the event; free to watch that shitty sci-fi, order two desserts and dress up in a Batman suit while you give yourself a thorough seeing-to.
Despite being on my own for last night’s meal, when I first scanned the menu, the first thing I did was to find something that might reconcile my preference for spicy food with my fiancee Charly’s aversion to chilli. But then came the realisation that I was alone, and with it, a wave of emancipation as I was freed from the constraints of the social experience and could order whatever the hell I wanted. I went straight to the hot-as-buggery section, picked out a chicken jalfrezi that would never make it onto a social table – in the same way that Roxette is never allowed on the bedroom stereo – and sat down to enjoy my monstrously hot meal while I read the paper; a happy man with no friends.
Of course, there is a down-side to going it alone – when the wheels fall off, there is no one to help you out. I accidentally swallowed a whole chilli midway through an article about the Iliad; then had to flag down a waiter, use rudimentary semaphore to order a water and extinguish the fire that raged in my oesophagus, all without the assistance and sympathy that a companion might have afforded. Had Charly been there, the moment would have then become a joke, something shared, an intersection on the long, solitary paths that are our lives. But because I was alone, I just spluttered to myself and coughed spicy chicken onto my newspaper while the two waiters sniggered and pretended not to see.
I guess there’s a balance that must be struck between having the experience you want, and having someone to share it with. I got to eat what I wanted, but now the only way to share it is to bang away on the keyboard and float it out into the interwebs, in the vain hope that it finds another solo, curry eater. That’s almost as depressing as the realisation that this paragraph now sounds like the voiceover at the end of an episode of The Wonderyears.