A Table for One

I used to be shy and then I wasn’t. I owe this change of character to my life-threatening surgery when I had to bare it all for doctors and nurses and then the caretakers who had to bandage areas of my body I couldn’t even look at. Were there really staples running across my once semi-flat abdomen? I was briefly horrified, but then I gave up. I surrendered. In the long run this is a gift, an enormous gift to not care what anyone thinks.

And so, my shyness disappeared. It evaporated into thin air, just like the man I’ve corresponded with lately. I’ve now been accused of being the life of the party–a role I never played before, but one that seems to suit me well…if I’m in the mood. I’ve taken my new talent on the road, meeting and talking to anyone who will listen. I love traveling alone, giddy with the anticipation of new faces and never heard of before stories.


duomo florence

il Duomo, Florence

Last week in Florence I went to one of my favorite restaurants–Trattoria Mario. At lunch it’s bustling with locals squeezed in besides tourists, all anxious to savor rustic Tuscan fare. When I arrived I put my name on the list and waited to see who my dining companions would be. After 20 minutes someone shouted my name, followed by “she’s alone.” Before, I would have been embarrassed that a crowd of strangers thought I had no friends. Now, I just smile and wave.


Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio


I was seated at a table for four with two Italian men who quickly poured me a glass of their wine and asked where I was from. Soon a student visiting from Singapore joined us. He was timid with the seating arrangement, so the Italians poured him a glass of wine too. I offered to help him order, bragging that it was my speciality. He admitted that he desperately wanted to try the Bistecca Florentina, the famous porterhouse steak from Tuscany’s white Chianina cow. As I Texan who thinks she knows a lot about beef, I consider it some of the best meat in the world. The waitress informed the young man that the steaks were at least 2 pounds, far too much for one person. He looked so disappointed that I suggested we share our lunch. He answered with a huge smile and I quickly changed my order. Our dining companions delighted in our enthusiastic appetites and insisted we gnaw the bones at the end of the meal–it’s the Tuscan way they said. We got shouts of “Bravo” from the kitchen and closed the lunch shift down.


lunch at mario's


Returning to the trattoria two days later, the owner knew my name and asked if I wanted to sit with the cook’s father–well, of course I do, I answered. He, like the other Italian men, immediately poured me a glass of his wine…and he kept doing so all during lunch, my protests falling on deaf ears. We discussed Mexico and Mexican food and by the end of our meal, I offered to make a Mexican feast for the entire staff during my next visit. My new friends are now awaiting my return.


Entrance to Trattoria Mario

Entrance to Trattoria Mario

So, the moral of this story is:

A–Don’t drink so much at lunch.

B–One pound of red meat is more than any lady should ever consume.

C–Go out alone and meet new people, the world is yours to discover.


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