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PARKER: Giving new meaning to the Solo cup

Image Credit: Compilation/Jennifer Stahn
December 29, 2014 - 8:05 AM

One of them nearly made me cry, but the majority just wanted some decent food and drink.

It’s not what you think either —my church’s community luncheon was last week and yeah, I cried at that, but it isn’t what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the people who sit at a bar by themselves on Saturday night.

I mean, there’s me, but then there’s everyone else.

What is it about the social media generation that has such a big fear surrounding the concept of flying solo? I remember having an existential crisis once regarding the logistics of leaving my solo seat in a movie theater to go to the washroom. I literally fretted over returning to my seat so much that I never did. I will never know how “The Women” ended.

The idea of going somewhere to eat or drink by myself, however, is one that thrills me. I’m a secret introvert and appreciate nothing more than the ability to not need to drag someone with me to an event or place that I want to check out. Sometimes I just want to sit and enjoy my beef dip without any conversation but the one that’s happening in my head.

It’s nice to escape the madness of constant chatter without sacrificing simple pleasures because we feel uncomfortable going it alone.

Things don’t always pan out that way, though. We’ve all been in the situation where we’re having quality alone time and feel the magnetic pull towards our phones.

Maybe if I scroll through Instagram one more time, people will think I’m just waiting for someone. Maybe if I start sending an email this will look like a work lunch. Maybe if I’m laughing at a stranger’s Vines people will assume I’m just on a hiatus from my 23-hour nursing shift.

I admit — with my head hung low — that I worry about these sorts of things. Despite my desire to do things by myself, there’s that little birdie on my shoulder singing the tiny violin blues, warning me that there might be people around thinking I’m lost and lonely.

That’s why I like airport bars more than any other place in the world. You can sit there by yourself and drink your overpriced Stella and not worry about anyone judging you because you don’t have company.

I mean, you’re on your way to Austin for Pete’s sake. You’re a Somebody.

Bloggers and self-improvement gurus keep preaching about independence and freedom and loving yourself enough to live life on your own terms — so much so that the Pacific Northwest has spawned an entire army of young people who call themselves adventurers and wanderers and who have perfected the art of the self-timer selfie. Clothing companies like Eddie Bauer are finally selling to the younger generation, equipping them for trips on unguided trails.

We are trying so hard, it seems, to escape the constant frivolous communication with others that has become our reality that we are literally grabbing backpacks and tin coffee cups and running, inexperienced, into the wild.

In his account of Christopher McCandles’s journey into the Alaskan wilderness, John Krakauer quotes, “we like companionship, see, but we can’t stand to be around people for very long. So we go get ourselves lost, come back for a while, then get the hell out again.”

Unfortunately — for the majority of us, anyway — packing up our ponchos and Hunter rain boots and trekking off along the West Coast Trail isn’t always in the immediate (or safest) cards.

So the girl beside me orders a dozen hot wings, eats them all and then orders a burger. She picks up her phone once in response to a message, but doesn’t type back. The man on my other side doesn’t have a phone in site, but he’s nursing two beers and enjoying the hockey game.

And, I sit in between them, drinking my solo Budweiser and picking at nachos, not concerned with notifications or the non-existent looks of judgment and feeling every bit as adventurous as I drift into the wild.

Or — something similar.

— Andria Parker is a 20-something blogger from Kamloops

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
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