Monday, March 7, 2011

Splish Splash: The Benefits of Eating Alone

As I was walking solo to lunch, I began plotting a blog post about the joys of eating alone. How in the US it's not something I would feel comfortable with but that in Vietnam it's common place. That here, I don't feel like a loser for eating alone.

However, the blog Gods intervened, clearly realizing that such a post would be boring and preachy. They decided to put me in my place, and remind me that I am a loser and a failure, regardless of what country I am in.

Fail #1-I was looking for this delicious bun cha place near my work. I wandered around looking for it, positive that I'd find it. I didn't. I opted instead for this nice looking pho place.

Fail #2-I sat down and indicated that I'd like a meal. It was the kind of place that options are limited and I didn't care what they brought me. I also said I wanted iced tea. I was ecstatic that they brought it. woohoo. I did something right. Turns out, that's the only thing I did correctly. I sat and waited for thirty minutes. I even made eye contact with the waitress and she made a motion like "one" and I nodded enthusiastically, thinking this was confirming my order. It turns out they thought I only wanted tea. Defeated, I shuffled out paying my 2,000 dong (10 cents) for my tea and started a dejected trek back to my office.

Fail #3-I passed a bun bo place and figured I could get this one right. They serve one thing...and I am clearly there for it. I confidently point to the bun bo sign and sit down. I order yet another green tea and I sit down. My food arrives and it looks delicious. I did have a slight incident with an old man clapping me on the shoulder and smiling and talking to me in Vietnamese to which I tried to explain, "I'm sorry i don't understand." For some reason that doesn't seem to deter people from continuing on a conversation where they are clearly asking you questions that you simply can not answer. That aside, things were looking like they were taking a turn in the right direction.

We all know (or anyone who has spent any time with me consuming food) that I'm not the daintiest or most delicate when I eat. I try, really I do, but somehow I always manage to make a mess. Whether it be crumbs on my clothes, rice and veggies fallen off of my plate, or chocolate on my cheek, I inevitably leave the table looking like a two year old. My friends at home used to smile and laugh at me in a nice way, leading me to believe this deficit was somewhat endearing, but really it was detrimental to my growth as a normal human being. People I meet out here aren't as accustomed.

I digress. Kind of. My third fail is a direct result of my inability to function properly at a table. As I was eating, the chopsticks splashed some of the spicy broth into my eye causing me to flail and grip my eye, in the process knocking over everything on my table and sullying up my table and my clothes. EPIC FAIL.

Perhaps it is better that I've learned how to eat alone. Clearly it's best that I keep the witnesses to my destruction at a minimum.


  1. Lol This place has a real ability to cut a person down to size anytime you think you have it in hand. I have learned to expect right after I start have big thoughts like: "I know what I am doing.","Really think I am getting to be a good driver","I wonder how many expats are as with it as I am" ect...

  2. well said. it happens literally every time I start hitting my stride.