One ticket, please.
A friend of mine appeared in a local production of "Arsenic and Old Lace." I wanted to see her in it, so as usual, I showed up on my own at the ticket table.
The best part about going by yourself is that you can get a great seat even if the auditorium's packed. There's always that one odd seat smack-dab up front that is leftover after other groups have taken their spots. It's a perk of being on my own.
This auditorium, however, was far from packed. I sat myself down in the middle of the prime row and settled in, noticing a mutual friend of the amateur actress I'd come to support. I waved, she waved, she and her family came to sit with me. Score!
As if that wasn't enough, a pair of couples I know walked in, started to take seats farther back, saw me, waved, and decided to come sit in my row instead. Score!
Clearly I was in my extraverted phase right there. Don't worry, I went back to being introverted by the end of the night. ;)
Curtains up, acting under way, intermission, climax, denouement and curtain call. The two couples to my left -- one of whom is a fellow Whovian and Janeite -- invited everyone in the row to come along to dinner at Olive Garden. I thought it'd be fun, so I accepted. Score!
Olive Garden has decent Italian food, a cuisine I've come to appreciate over the years. What didn't dawn on me until much later was this: Olive Garden also appears to be the area date destination. The two couples basically considered the outing a double date for them; a kid from church brought his sweetie to a table immediately behind ours; and several other tables were occupied by similar small groups.
Being there without a "significant other" or whatever they're calling it these days, I might be expected to have felt out of place. If you thought that, you'd be wrong.
It would have been different had the two couples I dined with been merely dating. Dating couples are pretty ridiculous. They're absorbed in talking to each other, sometimes (read: almost all the time) can't keep their hands off of each other and generally make you want to roll your eyes.
By the time they're married, they've turned back into sane people.
We talked philosophy of church and cooking ideas and local politics and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." The others occasionally poked fun at their spouses, sure, but they also poked fun at each other and at me, and I did the same.
That's part of why I enjoy their company -- we treated each other like people. Not like "the married couple" or "the single gal" or "the one with kids" or "the one with a job outside the home" or "the guys" or "the womenfolk" or any other modifier that obscures the simple humanity we share.
Together, I believe we reflected the imago Dei -- the "image of God," in community.
That's the ticket to being a comfortable fifth wheel.