We watched a few random episodes of Sex and the City last night, which made me feel I should be writing a relationship self-help book (possibly tilted If I Can Do It, Anyone Can), especially in reaction to the question posed: "Is it better to 'fake it' than be alone?" NO! Moving on.
Then there was a whole thing about being single and publicly identified as such. Samantha got caught alone at a swanky restaurant, without even a book or some excuse, and at the end of the episode, Carrie makes a breakthrough and sits at a sidewalk cafe, by herself, without a book, and is proud of herself for doing so.
In the first place, that's why I try never to leave the house without a book, because if you find yourself waiting for five minutes, then that's five minutes of extra reading time you've lost. I've been annoyed to be caught by a train with nothing to read. Thus, in my long tenure as a single girl, I went to bars and restaurants all the time by myself, because I wanted to eat what they had, and I brought books because that's what I do. If I were at home, I'd certainly be reading while eating, and probably while preparing, which, frankly, works better for some things than it does for others.
Perhaps the conventional wisdom is that, in order to create an image of not minding being alone, I should not do what I really want to do. Which would seem to that prove I really do mind.
Now, as Carrie would say, "I can't help but wonder." All my life, have people looked at me sitting in restaurants reading and thought, oh, that poor girl is alone, and she's got a book to pretend she's okay with that? The answer to that rhetorical question is: please, who cares if some idiot thinks that?
And I don't even live in liberated Manhattan.