The Valentine’s Day Dinner, Part 1

When I was a Freshman in college, I ate at the same dining hall nearly every day (as it was the one closest to my dorm). It had a reputation as being the worst dining hall on campus, but it was buffet style, meaning that I could use one meal credit and eat as much as I wanted. Convenience and quantity won out over quality most of the time.

I also usually ate by myself. Sometimes I would join friends for dinner, but my friends all looked down on Schultz Hall and its fare so they rarely ate there. I didn’t care. I would just bring a book and eat while reading. I found it highly enjoyable.

As Valentine’s Day approached, the dining hall announced that they were going to do a special event: a Valentine’s Day Dinner. The chef would prepare a five-course meal, the place would be decked out…it was going to be swank. Well, as swank as the worst dining hall at Virginia Tech ever got, anyway.

I was not particularly interested in this Valentine’s Day Dinner. I was not even close to having a Valentine — the combination of a lack of effort and a lack of ability in the romance department was fatal in that regard — so I had nothing in particular to celebrate that day. But I also wasn’t about to make other arrangements for dinner that evening, so I went ahead and made a reservation for one (yes, the event took reservations. And yes, I saw nothing wrong with making a reservation for one for a Valentine’s Day Dinner.)

On the day of, I put on a slightly nicer shirt and actual shoes, and walked over to the dining hall. The host (yes, there was a host; I told you it was swank!) seemed very confused that I was there by myself. I began to feel a bit embarrassed, but I reminded myself that I was doing nothing wrong and I was just there to enjoy a dinner. A waiter seated me at a table for four (they were all tables for four, it seemed) and walked off.

As I was waiting for the first course to start, I saw another waiter walking around looking confused. He looked at my table, looked at his clipboard, then walked around as though lost. Finally he approached me.

“Excuse me, sir. Are you…here by yourself?”

I responded in the affirmative. He looked relieved. “Oh, OK. So you are here by yourself. Good.”

I was confused why this would be good. My confusion was short-lived, though, as he motioned to a group of three young women and led them to my table.

“I’ll be seating them here, then, if you don’t mind.”

This was an eventuality that I had not planned on. I was there for dinner, and instead I was called upon to be social! What a turn of events!

The three were friends and teammates on the women’s soccer team. They were all three going out together that evening as friends; a gal-entine’s day before the practice was given a name.

You might expect that it was a crushingly awkward evening, but I don’t think it was. Despite my introversion I was not particularly anti-social when the occasion required it, and I think (I hope) I maintained a good balance between friendly conversation and letting them talk amongst themselves. On their end they were all friendly and kind; if they thought it was odd that I was out by myself at a Valentine’s Day Dinner, they hid it well. I had a very pleasant evening, and hopefully they did as well.

I returned to my dorm afterwards, slightly bemused by the whole situation.

There is a follow-up to this story, but as this has gotten long enough I will leave you all in suspense!

2 thoughts on “The Valentine’s Day Dinner, Part 1

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