I had started this post last fall when I was spending a month in Seattle for work. I walked away from it, but recently I’ve been going back through some old post drafts and though many of them hit the trash can, there are a few that I decided were still worth sharing. For this one, I combined what I was feeling at the time with a bit of reflection. Hopefully you enjoy. -XOXO, Miss Jaye
I didn’t think twice about taking the Uber driver’s recommendation and heading to Wild Ginger; he said that they had excellent food and it wasn’t very far from my hotel. The driver was one of those Seattle cheerleaders that I had encountered a couple of times on my trip, but he seemed nice enough and he had gushed about a couple of the restaurants that I’d mentioned liking, so I figured our tastes were compatible. What he didn’t mention was that Wild Ginger was a “family-style” restaurant.
Why is this still a thing? Maybe I’m just standoffish, but I see no reason for grown adults to have to create a Choose Your Own Adventure buffet at their table – there are actual buffets for that. I’m a big kid – I can order a meal and finish it all by myself. But for some reason, this family style concept is still alive and kicking, and little did I know I was on my way to a rather expensive and highly regarded iteration in downtown Seattle.
People are often uncomfortable by an adult person dining alone, as though there must be something wrong with you or some tragic story that lead you to the socially unthinkable decision to actually take a meal by yourself (in public, no less – the horror!). Perhaps every friend or relation you’ve ever known has died tragically and now you’re taking a last meal before ascending to the highest peak you can find and throwing yourself from its heights. You can imagine that this feeling is amplified at a family style restaurant. The hostess looked at me in a sort of dazed confusion when I said there would just be one, and her colleague nearby had to step in and find me a table. In the back, near the kitchen, lest my solitude dampen the jovial spirits of the other diners.
I was starting to feel that maybe I really was the long-lost and definitely unhinged Bronte sister until he appeared.
His name was Brent, and he was gorgeous. Not in that slick, movie star sort of way where they look too shiny and perfect, as if they had just come off an assembly line. No, Brent was beautiful in the way that real people are beautiful. He looked to be in his early 40s, and the lines around his eyes gave him a softness that suggested he laughed a lot and spent most of his time smiling (and “for real” smiling, not the practiced smile that comes so easily to most service workers). He had dark hair with just a few touches of silver, and a darkness around his chin and cheeks that wasn’t quite stubble. His light aftershave was woodsy and blended with the aromas of ginger and soy sauce and peppers that had settled into his black clothing.
Brent was accommodating and charming; although I was seated in an out of the way location, my water glass was never completely empty before he appeared to offer a refill. He made steady eye contact that was engaging instead of creepy, and when he smiled those lines around his eyes appeared as if he were stopping just shy of squinting (I’ve read that this is a trick people use when taking selfies to appear “more sincere”). Although the menu was fairly large, when he collected it after taking my order his hand brushed mine briefly, short enough to not feel inappropriate but long enough to feel purposeful. He was definitely putting on the charm.
I had a lovely dinner; the food was delicious, and Brent provided impeccable service, but it was almost as if his attempts to put me at ease made me even more aware of the incongruity of my situation. I still couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe all of his sweet attentiveness had a motivation behind it, a kind of gentle chicanery to make the lone, fat queer feel ok sitting alone at an upscale restaurant. Family-style restaurant.
When I left, I did something impulsive that I normally only do under the influence of several cocktails, and usually only if they are particularly strong. I left the waiter my phone number. I didn’t put any sort of cheesy line in there, nothing suggestive. Just my first name and my phone number. I didn’t need to lay it on thick; I wasn’t actually expecting him to call (they never do). I did it for me.
As sweet as he was, trying to make me feel at home, I wanted him to know that I understood that I belonged there regardless of how others might have felt. If they are uncomfortable or want to be mean-spirited, that’s on them. I’m not going to bow to the watchful eyes of those who feel that single people or fat people or queer people shouldn’t dare to invade “their” public places. I wanted him to know that I appreciated his kindness, but I was appreciating it on my terms: not as some charity case who fawns before token gestures from a beautiful stranger, but as someone who is a vibrant, complex human being, a sexual being in a world that tries to forbid my pursuit and experience of pleasure, and a world that wants to deny me the space of my own body.
He never called; I never expected him to.
But it felt nice, for once, to be the center of someone’s attention. And it felt nice to make small gesture, however it might have been interpreted, to say that while the attention was appreciated, it wasn’t something I needed to make me feel complete. To feel worthy.
Tags: Body Positivity, Brent, Choose Your Own Adventure, customer service, Fat Positivity, Fat Shaming, Flirting Waiter, I have never turned heads, Janessa, Janessa J, Janessa J Champagne, Janessa Jaye, Janessa Jaye Champagne, Leaving Your Number for the Waiter, Miss Jaye, Not the object of desire, queer, Seattle, single, Singlephobia, Waiter, Waiter Fantasies, Wild Ginger, World of Champagne