I got paid at the high-end kitchen store today, and I took my impressive paycheck back to its place of origin: that’s right—the mall. The mall was calling out to me, “MOV! MOV! Come spend some of your paycheck here, you know you want to!”
I struck a compromise with mall. I told mall that I didn’t want to blow my entire gigantic paycheck ($114.82) all in one fell swoop … I would take things slow. I waltzed into Barnes and Noble and bought some important literature (Us Weekly with Princess Kate on the cover, and Veranda with, well, someone’s veranda on the cover) and then I went to a fancy restaurant for lunch. By myself.
It is not so strange for me to walk into a place solo. Being a flight attendant for all those years, I certainly ate alone from time to time. But things are different now: I’m a mom. I’m always accompanied by short hungry people, people who either want me to make food for them or buy food for them.
No one ever says, “Hey, Mom, are YOU hungry? You look a little emaciated, perhaps you might like some chicken cordon bleu, some crab stuffed mushrooms, a piece of chocolate mousse cake, and a nice glass of Chardonnay to wash it all down?” This is not a phrase anyone in my family has ever uttered to me, in my seven and a half year history of Mommydom.
I took it upon myself to be in charge of my own happiness today while my two young children merrily learned to draw rectangles or say “Where do you live?” in Spanish or whatever fun lesson the public schools deemed appropriate for this day. It doesn’t matter. The teachers have their degrees in Early Childhood Education, someone official did a background check on them at some point, and I was blissfully child-free for three hours.
The hostess looked at me with a mix of pity and curiosity. The pity was “Why is she by herself? Is she a total loser and has no friends?” The curiosity was “Can’t she just go home and make a tuna sandwich? Why does she want to spend $25 on lunch when she has no one to enjoy it with?”
But you see, dear hostess, I did enjoy my lunch. All. By. Myself. I did not have to dump out all the sugar and Sweet ‘N Low packets to play an impromptu game of dominoes at the table to entertain people with a short attention span. I did not have to play “I spy” and look around for something black (my purse) or something yellow (I give up—oh, the chandelier). I got to peruse the lovely photos of Princess Kate and all her adoring fans. When I was done with the magazine, I re-read it, to make sure I didn’t miss anything (and I almost had! Kate Hudson is engaged!).
I didn’t have to share my sliced mango. I didn’t have to settle a dispute over who has more French fries. I could have sat there all day, zoning away to MOV-land, a place I spent a lot of time before I had kids, and a place that is never on the itinerary these days.
I love my family (why do I always feel compelled to put that disclaimer on these kid-free episodes?), but my Table for 1 was exhilarating. It made me appreciate my usual Table for 4.