How to Dine Alone and Keep the Loneliness at Bay

Don't be a bar barracuda.

We've all seen him: the bar barracuda.

He sits alone at the restaurant bar, scanning the room, looking to snare unsuspecting passersby into one-sided conversation. Once someone makes eye contact he doesn't waste a second, he says something harmless like, "Great bread here, huh?" and before his victim can even finish saying, "Actually, I don't eat gluten," he's telling them about dislocating his knee during the 1974 Notre Dame vs. Villanova game. He ignores all polite attempts at disengagement while the bartender looks on with sympathy but relief: she's glad the bar barracuda has turned his attention elsewhere. His prey undoubtedly feels bad for this man and his off-puttingly eager conversation, and they want to be the kind of person who can listen to a lonely stranger's animated story about his sister's-ex-husband's lawsuit over his neighbor's dog's barking, but they just aren't. Eventually, the victim's dinner companion arrives, and they break away from the bar barracuda with a clear expression of relief and guilt.

This is an example of what not to do when dining alone. If you're desperate for someone, anyone, to listen to you talk, go to a therapist or get a cat and stop being weird to strangers at Olive Garden. But if you just like to go out to eat, don't always have someone to go with, and promise you're not so desperate for human interaction you'll hold the waiter hostage with uncomfortably intimate anecdotes, then dining alone is an option for you. Whether you're dreading a snide, "just you?" from the hostess, or you think you'll be bored, this list of tips for eating out alone will give you the confidence to say, "table for one, please" with the brash abandonment of a bar barracuda.

No one's actually judging you.

Wallpaper Abyss

Maybe you think that solo dining will get you looks of pity from other diners, but the truth is people are going to be too busy chatting and Instagramming their well-garnished pasta to even notice you. The waiter is probably thinking more about the annoying table of tweens who want 15 separate bills than they are about you. On the off chance that they do ask you why you're alone, don't go on a long rant about your asshole ex, burst into tears, or explain how lonely you are; just smile and lie that your oven's broken and your girlfriend is away in Cancun modeling for a Victoria's Secret catalog.

You don't have to try to look occupied. 

Don't worry that other diners will think it's weird if you aren't on your phone or reading the whole time, it's perfectly fine to savor your meal and watch the world go by. You might feel like people are looking at you, but once again, it's most likely that no one is noticing you at all or cares that you're in the restaurant or even that you're alive! You can even use the time to quietly weep, or scribble down a list of all the people who have wronged you. No matter what you do, don't weirdly force strangers into a conversation in an attempt to ignore the gaping maw of loneliness staring you in the face.

Eat at the bar.

Sidling up to the bar may feel a little less lonely, since you don't have to face a sea of people who are on dates, enjoying family time, and generally strengthening human connections that you'll never get to experience. Instead, you can chat with the bartender--as long as you don't ask her if she wants to hang out later, tell her that she looks like your granddaughter, or make puns about the names of drinks. Also, try to avoid excessive eye contact that forces her to repeatedly ask if you need anything, only for you to take the opportunity to launch into another story about your softball league. On second thought, maybe don't chat with the bartender.

Take risks with your order.

When you're eating out alone, no one is going to judge your order or insist on sharing bites, so why not order something adventurous? Get that lavender flan for two, tried the steak tartare with quail egg, smear wasabi in your eyes, order that side of bacon fried mac-and-cheese, or try the chef's veal special!


Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.

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Celebrate Endangered Species Day.

An endangered species is not a tragedy, because if a species is endangered, then they aren't yet extinct.

Sadly, there are millions of endangered species across the world, all facing threats that mostly stem from human activities. Still, it's not too late. Take a gander at these majestic animals, and then donate to a wildlife fund or environmental activism group of your choice.


Of course, nature doesn't need saving—humans do—and climate change and environmental destruction are threats to humans as well as animals, but if you need a reminder of the beauty and fragility of the natural world, check out these extraordinary species.



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Do Non-Melatonin Sleep Aids Really Work?

Objective makes a chocolate square.

I Can't Sleep.

I truly cannot remember the last time I had a good night's rest. Even before the stay-at-home orders, I was just a little ball of nerves.

But lately, it's been awful. I toss and turn, it's always too hot or even too cold, sometimes I make myself tea and read for a bit, but when I'm still up at 1 a.m., I reach for my phone and then I'm up until 3. My sister and I have a weekly call, and our small talk about our exhaustion turned into an hour long conversation about sleep.

I Thought I'd Tried Everything. Even Melatonin.

My sister asked why I hadn't gone for the old staple, melatonin and I reminded her about the time we traveled abroad, and it gave me the weirdest nightmares (the horrible kind where you wake up in your dream and you're still in a dream). Chamomile tea didn't work, nothing worked.

She said she had a friend who swore by something I definitely hadn't heard of.

They Were NOT Pills, Teas or Anything I'd Seen Before.

A company called Objective makes Fast Asleep, a sleep solution delivered as chocolatey treats. They're created with saffron and GABA. If going to sleep was as easy as eating a piece of these chocolatey, minty delights every night, I'd be sold.

What Exactly Was In It?

Cocoa contains caffeine, so I didn't know how this would help me sleep. After talking with my sister, I went online and saw that the calming, sleep-supporting ingredients cancel out any of the very little caffeine content.

Saffron, the spice, is apparently known to help with staying asleep, and their GABA is a fermented version of the neurotransmitter that's known to help you relax and fall asleep faster. In a study, 100% of customers saw improvement in their sleep quality thanks to saffron. One hundred percent!

Do I Try It?

A bag of 30 pieces was only $40, and they had a money-back guarantee.

They're keto-friendly and only 30 calories a piece, so not too decadent before bedtime.

They were chocolatey-minty, which is my favorite flavor, so I was sold. I ordered a bag to try.

The First Night, I Wasn't Impressed.

I took one piece (super yummy!) - 30-60 minutes before bedtime is recommended - but when I climbed in, I didn't notice a difference. I was worried I'd wasted my money.

However, once I fell asleep, I stayed asleep until my alarm went off, which hasn't always been the case for me.

I checked the site again, and noticed that many people didn't notice a real difference until the third or fourth night - it builds up in your system over time, so I decided to keep an open mind the rest of the week.

The Second Night Was Completely Different

Without doing anything differently from the first night, my second night was amazing. I felt calm and sleepy as I was getting ready for bed, and once I hit the pillow, I was out the whole night.

It had to be these sweet treats. The next day, I even felt more balanced and relaxed - Fast Asleep helps boost serotonin levels and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), and I definitely noticed a difference in my overall mood and alertness.

I Already Ordered More.

Just In Case! There's nothing habit-forming about this product, so it's completely safe to take every night, and I honestly always want to keep it in the house. I'd also love to offer it to anyone staying over in the guest room, whenever we have guests again.

Now that I'm getting a healthy 8 hours of sleep every night, I feel more equipped during the day to tackle the things I need to do and deal with some of my daytime stressors. I finally had the energy to clean the kitchen, which had been bothering me so much for the past few weeks.

With Objective's Fast Asleep, I get real sleep and balance my levels, so I don't have to feel tired during my waking hours. Sleep in the form of chocolate squares sounds so weird, but oh my goodness, do they work.

Our partners at Objective Wellness are currently offering a 25% discount if you use the coupon code STAYHOME. Check them out here!

Food & Drink

The Best Apps for Craft Beer Delivery

Try beers from all over the world–from your phone.

With breweries and distilleries out of business for the foreseeable future, your favorite beer may feel particularly out of reach this time of year, especially with the weather changing. But don't let quarantine suck all the fun out of summer. Luckily, thanks to technology, a lot of craft beer is now deliverable straight to your door step. Here are a few of the best apps to help make sure you stay up to date on the latest trendy brews.

Tavour

Tavour

Simplistic and elegant, Tavour allows users to easily fill up a box of beer over a period of time before shipping. The app offers more than 650 different breweries both local and national and is perfect for those who like to experiment. It's easy to use, and their menu rotates regularly so you and your beer never grow stale.

TapRM

TapRM

TapRM offers a wide range of both craft beers and hard seltzers. While based almost exclusively in New York City, the app offers fast, same day delivery from some of the best beer brands in the world. They also provide a unique selection of beers to help you find your new favorite. All you need to do is download the app and place your order!

Drizly

Offering a stark variety of craft beer, Drizly allows its users to mix and match 12-packs, sixers or by the bottle. Their guarantee is that they can have whatever you order delivered to your house in less than an hour. You can even schedule your delivery for a specific time, with each delivery taking around 20-40 minutes.

Saucey

Saucey takes delivery very seriously. When you order with them they guarantee that they'll deliver in 30-minutes or less, or they guarantee two day shipping. Also, beer aside, their entire liquor cabinet is also up for grabs. From tequila and whiksey, to vodka and wine, nothing is off the table for Saucey.

Beer Menus

BeerMenus

For those who enjoy strictly local beers, BeerMenus features a tap list from local bars and a broader stock list from your neighborhood beer store. With that, you can make sure to create a list of your favorite beers in your neighborhood, so that when they're in stock you can be ready to go.