Why is it that when you are a female traveling alone, people stare at you? Recently, I traveled to the Wausau, WI, area for a class and due to the time frames and distance, it was deemed a good idea to travel up the night before and stay at a hotel.
Mr. Muse stayed at home to hold down the fort (and throw one of his “My Wife Is Gone” parties), so I was on my own for a night and a day. Since I have standards in hotels that I stay in as well as liking consistency with what I should expect, I chose a Holiday Inn & Suites. Pleasantly, it was discovered that they had a restaurant attached, the Green Mill. The hotel, being close to the interstate is frequented by business men, as is the restaurant; these people tend to have standards as well.
After checking into my room and deciding that I was suffering from allergies, I popped on over to the adjacent grocery store and grabbed some Claritin and Visine. A runny nose and bloodshot eyes, while quite fetching in some venues, wasn’t the look I was going for (nor was it comfortable). Once I was back in my room, I took a Claritin and sighed with relief as the drops of Visine hit my eyeballs. After I wiped my tears of succor (okay… they were tears of Visine overflow), I made my way down to the restaurant.
The dining room had as many patrons for a Tuesday night as I had expected, most of them gathered at the bar, drinks in hand. A sign informed me to make my way to the front of the restaurant to be seated, so I did. The host put me into a comfortable booth and in spite of the near empty dining room, I had quite a wait before the waitress stopped to take my order (Cilantro Lime Shrimp Salad and an Amstel Light with a Jameson Whiskey back. Oh yeah, I got a large glass of water, too). The sweet young thing taking my order had to ask what “a Jameson back” meant (it just means a shot of Whiskey as a chaser or on the side) and off she went with my order, soon returning with my water and an explanation that my drinks would be served by someone else because she was not yet twenty-one.
My nearest neighbors in the dining room eyed me up (I am sure it was because of the stunningly good looks I possess…not the bloodshot eyes or bedraggled appearance or the fact that I was furiously writing away in my notebook). I’m sure I would have garnered a look of respectable approval had they heard my drink order. While I don’t order it to impress, it seems to get me these nods of respectable approval (especially when they hear me order “…with a whiskey back”). I just like what I like, folks. I also frequently get asked, “You drink whiskey?!”, typically by men, when they are in earshot of me placing my order.
The next nearest patrons were a group of married women, gossiping about people they knew and complaining about their husbands. Secretly, or not so secretly, they were living out the fantasy of starring in Joe Nichols’ “Tequila makes Her Clothes Fall Off“video, albeit with Captain & Cokes. Their laughter was hitting somewhere between cackling and lilting, and I couldn’t tell whose laugh was whose.
I wrote two blog entries (including this one) and my reviews of the hotel and restaurant as I ate; once I had brought out the notebook and pen, it prompted the initial lackadaisical service to improve to stellar. Go figure. My low-calorie salad, beer and whiskey consumed, I found that I was ready to head to my room. No dessert would be ordered by me – I still had my “Chewy Peanut Butter Brownie” from my lunch with me (YUM!).
So this brings me to my original pondering at the start of this entry. Why do people stare at women traveling/dining alone? I observe that men traveling alone don’t get the same treatment as women. Are we a social pariah? Do the men who stare feel a need to protect us on some level while at the same time, feeling something entirely different? And the women – is it respect or disdain, or even just mere curiosity at the novelty of a woman being able to travel on her own and not hide away in a room away from prying eyes?
People don’t stare at men, let alone their chosen beverages and make mental notes. Well, maybe they do and I just don’t notice because I’m too busy staring at these men, their chosen beverage(s) and making mental notes.
Speaking of mental notes that I make, the gentleman who sat in the booth behind me, while I couldn’t see him, reminded me of Meg Ryan’s character in When Harry Met Sally. He’s high maintenance, but thinks he’s low maintenance. ”I’ll have the walleye, but I want it fried in the canola oil. I’d like it with a lemon wedge on the side, but if I can’t have a lemon wedge, I would like the tartar sauce, but I would like that on the side. I would like the steamed vegetables, but I don’t want them with butter and I would like the rice rather than the potato. I would like a side of asparagus, but I would like that to come with a wedge of lemon…on the side.”
On the side was very big with him. The guys behind the grill were pretty damn funny, as I could see them from my seat; all the “on the side” business was tossing them. So I pondered, would it be prudent for me to call them “Tossers” now? Maybe not – totally wrong term to use. Admittedly, by this point in the show I had had a second round of Jameson because I was on a roll writing all this stuff down, which brought to mind a quote from Brendan Behan: ”I am a drinker with writing problems.”
Notes taken, posts written in rough draft, it was time for me to head back to my room and sleep.
Oh yeah… the kitchen was out of asparagus… he got the steamed broccoli… on the side.