Monday, February 13, 2006

By Myself

Actual conversation I had with a friend the other day.

Friend: So what’re you up to now?
Me: I’m actually just about to go to the MoMA
Friend: Oh cool, who are you going with?
Me: Just by myself.
Friend: You’re not going with anyone else?
Me: Nope, just me.
Friend: Dude . . . that’s really sad.
Me: . . . thanks . . .

So has my life really become that pathetic, or was my friend overreacting? Being in a line of work with high work hour fluctuations, I frequently find myself with lots of free time at random hours. This has led me to try to figure out socially acceptable activities I can do by myself.

In an ideal world, I feel I should be free to do anything without worrying about a lack of companions. I think the problem stems from the incorrect belief that people assume an individual by himself must be completely friendless (a gross exaggeration to say the least). While objectively we all realize how untrue this statement is, it nonetheless permeates our decisions. For example in college, some of my friends were so scared of the specter of eating alone they would plan their meal hours in advance. In the worst case where they couldn’t find anyone, they would grab food from the dining hall and quickly scamper up to their room. Their reasoning being that if they were going to eat alone, they would at least do it in the secrecy of their own rooms.

Yet New York is not college, and I’ve found that for the most part New York tends to be somewhat more amenable to solo adventures, but often arbitrarily so. For example, while seeing movies alone is frowned upon, cultural events tend to be acceptable. Eating out varies depending on the restaurant and the meal. Who decides these things?

Personally for me, the problem is further complicated by the fact that most of my friends in the city are guys, meaning that even when I do find one friend to go out with, we’re limited by the set of activities that two straight guys can comfortably engage in. Yet even despite our precautions, I’ve lost track of the number of times people have assumed I’m part of a gay couple. But I’m getting ahead of myself, right now I just want someone to explain to me the rules on single person activities. Any takers?

Mr. J

2 Comments:

Anonymous Mark said...

I support you, Mr. J. There's nothing wrong with having fun by yourself. Just the other day, I went to an afternoon showing of Curious George, sat in the back row, and ate a big tub of popcorn. I probably should have worn a trenchcoat . . . hindsight 20/20, I suppose.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree-- there's no shame in flying solo around the town... especially since now is the time when you can so guiltlessly delight in solitude. (I'm all about marriage and families, but from thenceforth, you're definitely a team player.) I think if you choose your activities carefully, you can do almost anything both alone and shamelessly. For instance, going to the Top of the Hub alone on Valentine's Day is just asking for trouble. But sitting alone in a cafe, brooding over ideas for your next GAN (Great American Novel) is a perfectly acceptable practice. When it really comes down to it, I think the beauty of solitary activities is that you can decide exactly what works for you. Forget the snickering peanut gallery! (ie, friends, family, fellow restaurant patrons, movie-goers, and random strangers, etc)

As for socially acceptable, all-masculine activities-- ever try forming a bowling league? :)

11:30 PM  

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