Talk about creative coping mechanisms for being alone - from the blogger who photographs selfies with his imaginary girlfriend to the company that takes your stuffed animals on vacation without you, Japan appears to be cornering the market on accommodating solo travelers.
You can now add the "anti-loneliness" Moomin House Cafe to the menagerie of "wait, what?" strokes of Japanese brilliance.
Hi there. I'm Kat. You may know me from Daily Show writer Miles Kahn's popular screenshot above, or its subsequent appearance in countless blog posts such as Jim Romenesko's "Thank you, CNN!" or Videogum's "Tips for Solo Dining" or Jezebel's "We Just Really Want to Make Sure You’re Cool on the ‘Eating Alone’ Front." Oh, and now The Soup's "My Dinner With Entrée."
I'm sorry about ruining TV journalism for everyone while not looking anything like the world's most beautiful human, Beyonce, but I really do dig eating alone sometimes. On purpose, even. Not just because of my hideous deformities and "man face" (thank you, internet commenters!).
Not everyone enjoys solo dining, though, and that's such a shame to me. Plenty of people don't think twice about sitting alone in a restaurant, out of necessity or preference. Armed with a book, a phone, people watching or their own quiet thoughts, they're good to go.
Rochelle Peachey, the founder of the dating site I Love Your Accent, is sitting alone in a restaurant, gabbing away on her cellphone, when a few minutes into the conversation, the phone she's talking into starts to ring. Busted!
Such is the length Peachey once went to in order to battle the embarrassment and awkwardness she - and so many female business travelers like her - feels when dining alone.
"I detest walking into a restaurant to request the dreaded table for one," says Peachey, who typically makes three or four business trips a month. "When I walk into a restaurant or bar alone, I feel others see me as either a woman out to pick up men or a sad, lonely spinster."
A new website called Invite For a Bite aims to change all that. The site serves as a sort of meeting place where women who hate supping solo can post invites and make plans to dine together.
Previously: Steven Stern's ode to eating alone at the bar
Tips for best bar eating
Find a good spot
If you're next to the place where the waitstaff picks up drinks, they're going to be squeezing by you all night. If you're all the way at the end of the bar, the barkeep is going to have to do a lot of walking back and forth to take care of you. Choose somewhere central, and settle in.
Start with a drink
Sure, you can ask for the wine or cocktail list, but if you sit down and immediately order something – a beer, a Campari and soda, a club soda if you don't do alcohol – the bartender knows they're dealing with someone decisive.
Sometimes my friends are a little shocked, a little concerned maybe, when they find out how much time I spends sitting at bars by myself. Perhaps they imagine I'm just tossing back whiskey, crying into my drink, singing along to the jukebox. Well, sometimes, yes, I am doing precisely that. Most of the time, though, I am eating. I love eating alone at bars.
I eat at bars that serve food and restaurants that have bars. I eat shepherd's pie in Irish pubs and beef cheek ravioli in fancy Italian joints. I seek out odd little local spots in cities I'm visiting, looking for the perfect cup of gumbo, some regional burger variation I've never encountered before. I stroll into high-end restaurants that are booked up for the months and get wonderful meals without waiting.