“I was horribly self-conscious; I wanted everybody to look at me and think me the most fascinating creature in the world, and yet I died a small hideous death if I saw even one person throw a casual glance at me.”
M.F.K. Fisher, “The Measure of My Powers” (1927)
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“More often than not people who see me on trains and in ships, or in restaurants, feel a kind of resentment of me since I taught myself to enjoy being alone. Women are puzzled, which they hate to be, and jealous of the way I am served, with such agreeable courtesy, and of what I am eating and drinking, which is almost never the sort of thing they order for themselves. And men are puzzled too, in a more personal way. I anger them as males.
“I am sorry. I do not like to do that, or puzzle the women either. But if I must be alone, I refuse to be alone as if it were something weak and distasteful, like convalescence. Men see me eating in public, and I look as if I ‘knew my way around’; and yet I make it plain that I know my way around without them, and that upsets them.
“I know what I want, and I usually get it because I am adaptable to locales. I order meals that are more typically masculine than feminine, if feminine means whipped-cream-and-cherries. I like good wines, or good drinkin’-likka, and beers and ales. I like waiters; I think the woman who said that waiters are much nicer than people was right, and quite often waitresses are too. So they are always nice to me, which is a sure way to annoy other diners whose soup, quite often, they would like to spit in.
“And all these reasons, and probably a thousand others, like the way I wear my hair and what shade my lipstick is, make people look strangely at me, resentfully, with a kind of hurt bafflement, when I dine alone.”
M.F.K. Fisher, “The Lemming to the Sea” (1938)
(Both essays appear in The Gastronomical Me.)