September 26, 2013

  • Two Weeks

    Today I realized that it has been two weeks since I shared a meal with another human.

    I think the majority of the other meals have been in front of the TV. A significant part have been in front of the YouTubes. I think the rest of the meal-time accompaniment was an even split between my phone (probably because I’m at a restaurant) and a word document/other homework assignment.

    I made this realization today when someone extended a lunch invitation via e-mail (I am much relieved that it wasn’t on the spot). Ordinarily I don’t decline, but I don’t really know the other person all that well and I have zero confidence in my conversation skills. While trying to think of a nice way to say “No. Not now, not ever,” I realized that I could legitimately say, “No thanks, I don’t eat with other people.” The last time I remembered sharing a meal it was my birthday–a special occasion. And I don’t remember the time before that. But, it was probably at least two weeks.

    I don’t think I’m opposed to eating with others–just with people the idea of sharing a meal with whom makes me uncomfortable. Restated a little more articulately: As a general rule, I’m not opposed to eating with others. However, the idea of sharing a meal with certain people makes me uncomfortable and I would almost certainly turn down those invitations. Then why not eat with anyone else? It’s one of the most natural things that people do.

    For me, I think it’s a product of my schedule. Usually I’ll eat twice a day: once between 2 and 3 or so and then again later, usually between 8 and 9. For most people, these aren’t normal fooding times, so there just aren’t others around to eat. Also, I don’t know anyone, which is probably a bigger factor than the first one. But, they two are somewhat interrelated.

    So, I’m curious now: how often do you eat with others? Also, how often should someone eat with others? In my quest to better understand my humanity, I don’t know if this is something I should change.

    Also, do you have any good ideas for how to tell someone to nicely bug off? If you have a “it’s not you, it’s me”-type speech, I’d love to hear it.

Comments (8)

  • I eat with others most of the time, since I cook for my husband and mother. Before that I was cooking for several children. I eat breakfast alone, usually just tea and toast at the computer. I often eat lunch alone, then I read while I’m eating. If I really don’t want to do something with someone else, I just postpone it. I don’t have a good speech like that. Sorry.

    • It seems that there is no such good speech. I found lots of recommendations for how to end a one-time invitation, but there just isn’t a good way to say, “Not now, not ever.” My situation is markedly different though from some of the more-diresituations (where you have to see a co-worker over and over, or worse–when your boss asks). Luckily, I think I handled as well as it can be handled. Thanks for reading!

  • You are so abnormal! AS AN ATTORNEY,I think you will have to extend yourself to be a little more flexible.
    So, from about 9 p m till the next day 2 pm, you do not ingest anything? Can you even begin to imagine the depletion of glucose in your brain?
    You keep shrugging people off, and they will start labeling and typing you; and before you know, your clientele will dwindle because you are so abnormal.


    Having said all that I needed to say, I have to add that IF you want to decline an invitation to dinner or lunch or whatever, you can just let them know, that “I do not know the first thing about etiquette at such impromptu affairs, so instead of embarrassing you, I will just slither away so you don’t remember that you even bothered to invite me.”


    • I think…I actually I know…it’s different when there’s a chance that I’ll get paid. When socializing is an incident of some other purpose, I can get through it–sometimes even well. The problem for me is socializing for the sake of socializing. I find almost everything about it unendingly tedious. Come to think of it, I find most aspects of ongoing human maintenance tedious (except sleeping). I think that’s why I only eat twice a day–and even what that happens, I think, “Ugh! I just ate a few hours ago. Can’t I stay full for a couple of days?” It’s all very repetitive and Sisyphean and I don’t like it. Similarly, I also delay haircuts and showers as much as possible. The longer the time between haircuts and showers, the fewer you need in the course of a lifetime. : )

  • You say you don’t know anyone. I’d think that an invitation to a meal with someone would be an ideal way to get to know them. It doesn’t commit you to a long term relationship. It allows for silence (no one expects you to speak with your mouth full). And another benefit is that you just might find that you enjoy their company…

    • That was an exaggeration–I do know people, but not too many really well. And, I’m not looking to change that either. This was very much an informal, get-to-know-you type thing, and that’s not me.

  • The key to telling someone nicely “no” or “quit X” is to somehow indicate to them that you are sure they have the best of intentions. Maybe:

    “Thank you for thinking of me, but very informal get-to-know-you-things are very much not me. It was thoughtful of you to include me, though.”

    • Ahhh! I wish you had gotten to me sooner! The substance of my little spiel was similar, and about as short. But, yours was much more elegant. I did say “thank you” twice, I think.

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