Monday 19 March 2018

Claptrap dished up over table for one

Anne Marie Scanlon

I HAD one of those "I hope it stays fine for you" conversations recently. I was chatting with a young one in her early 20s who was horrified to hear that I would, and have, eaten alone. She could think of nothing worse than sitting in a fancy restaurant, or any restaurant, at a table for one. It was worse than running down O'Connell Street in your pelt on a busy Saturday afternoon, she thought. Like I said, I hope it stays fine for her.

Maybe it's because I'm an only child, but I've never had a problem doing things by myself. When I was a student in UCD I'd often take myself into town to have a nice lunch. (In those days, the food options at the great institute of learning were rather limited).

I've often had to travel for work, and am no stranger to finding myself alone in unfamiliar cities of an evening. My young friend couldn't understand that I wouldn't stay in my hotel room and order room service. Why? Why should a grown woman go into seclusion simply because she doesn't have a dinner companion? Because being on your own in public is both sad and shameful, I was told.

You wouldn't say that to a man, I countered. It's different for men I was told with an eye roll and a sigh. Not a sigh of disappointment at the unjustness of this, but a sigh of exasperation that I should be so utterly thick.

To hear this claptrap coming from a woman in her early 20s makes me want to lie down and weep. I thought things had changed (albeit not enough) but apparently not. Sexism is still in business. And, even in the midst of global recession, business is booming.

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