Dining Alone

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So all of you decided not to appearfor our usual at the usual time and place.No doubt you had good reasons:Richard, swimming the Hellespont to Port Colbourn?Howard, in extremis with some deadline?Kildare? I must ask his travel agent,Don, in the boondocks at a robin's twitter?--leaving me to face four empty chairsand dine alone in the best of company.The waiter was polite, the management grave,just short of suggesting that I order enoughfor five, since I had claimed our large round table.After waiting the canonical fifteen minutesfor savants and artistes, I ordered in revengewhat you all like best, then craned my neck,hoping for a breathless, last-minute entrance.None. A stigma, dining alone, though most of uswill end so--pray not through tubes--and yet,what better than raising chopsticks to one's lipswith the choice bits of every dish that pleases,and without the distraction of half-chewed talk,thinking fondly of our absent friends,yet not missing them too much,supposing they are at other pleasures.

© Zitner Sheldon