Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cutting Back On Eating Out

Lunch with my friends Barbara and Jane yesterday - great company!
I've given up on my Friday Night Dine Out Group.  Actually, I think they gave up on me.  Remember last week I showed up at the appointed location and NO ONE was there.  Oh I know this was "just circumstances" (as some would say) but it is what it is.  A group of friends who meet once a week for friendship and camaraderie.  When I first joined last year there were quite a few who attended, sometimes as much as 16.  Lately the group has been dwindling off until last week's joke.  Yep, the joke was on me.  And I'm taking it personally.

I don't like going out at nights anyway.  It wasn't too bad during the longer daylight hours of summer but in the winter it is definitely not safe for me to drive at night.  All I see are headlights coming at me.  During the summer it's bad enough driving on the tourist clogged roads.  After last week's debacle there is absolutely no reason for me to put life and limb and my vehicle at risk for a gathering that was shriveled up to nothing.  No comments about the use of the world "shriveled" please.

Yesterday I went out to lunch with two of my good friends from the neighborhood, Barbara and Jane.  I had a delightful lunch.  The food was good, the company excellent and I could see where I was going driving to and from the restaurant.  Only problem was that I got boxed in the parking lot when I tried to leave.  There were two long trailers of beer trucks.  They totally boxed me in.  I couldn't back up because a butchie in a gargantuan Dodge Ram pickup truck had his door open while he was flapping his gums on his cell phone.  Then someone behind me started blasting me with his horn to more.  I COULDN'T GO ANYWHERE!  Then I'm thinking to myself "What am I doing here?" 

I remember back years go (actually 32 years ago, when I was 37 years old).  I was standing in the 247 Bar on a Saturday night when the bartender turned up the lights and shouted "LAST CALL!"  Up until that time I had gone out almost every weekend to the bars since I was 21 years old.  That night, THAT NIGHT I realized "Why am I here?" I had friends in bar who I enjoyed seeing every week.  I went out to see them and also to maybe meet someone NEW.  I did occasionally meet someone NEW but the thrill had long since worn off.  So here I was in the habit of going out every week, paying a couple of bucks for a gin and tonic (which I usually tried to keep down to three a night) and inhaling other's second hand smoke (and smelling like a dirty wet ashtray when I got home - the smell lingered in my clothes), facing the reality of "LAST CALL!"  I thought to myself at that time I would rather be home in my comfortable bed instead of stumbling down the night time darkened street at 2:30 am in the morning, ever on the alert for a mugger or a group of young straight punks from South Philly looking to gay bash someone like me who would be alone leaving a gay bar.  No, I wasn't enjoying this "pastime" any more.  It was expensive and I was putting myself in danger.  Maybe I'm over analyzing but I don't think so.  I stopped going to bars and haven't missed it since.  I'm at that crossroads again.

So, a delightful lunch with friends but I'm not going to do this much anymore either (never say "never").  I'm sort of bummed out over eating out anyway.  There are very few places where I like the food. I'm not happy with the cost of the meal either.  My Social Security and pension payments have stayed the same for years now but the price of dining out keeps going up and up and UP.  The quality doesn't justify the prices.  At least at the restaurants I grace with my presence.  I don't go to the hoity toity restaurants in Rehoboth like the Back Porch Cafe or the Sting Ray whose entree prices start around $24 (they are so hoity toity they don't even put the decimal and cents on the menu listing...just the number.)  Those restaurants are of the Washington D.C. crowd of retirees retired to Rehoboth Beach who have the luxury of six decimal retirement packages from the taxpayers and they can afford their overpriced meals where their plate is squirted with some kind of colored sauce to make a "presentation."  Nope, I'm just a regular retired guy with a couple of small bank pensions and a modest Social Security pension check which hasn't increased in two years who works part time to keep up with my every increasing bills like heating, electricity, and insurance (car, homeowners and supplemental medical insurance).  I can't keep up with the "In Crowd."  I don't want to keep up with the "In Crowd."  I'm not going to keep up with the "In Crowd."

I'm all for keeping the local economy going and I do have a great empathy for the waitresses but I'm just not enjoying myself.  While I have met and made some new friends with the Friday Night Dine Out Group and I always have a good time with my lovely neighbors Barbara and Jane, I have reevaluated my situation and decided that I will dine alone from here on out.  Lunch during the off season at the Purple Parrot on Wednesdays at half price is ideal for me.  No crowds, no problem parking, the price is right and the burger and fries are the best!

So please don't be offended folks if I decline future offers to dine out.  Don't take it personal.  This is a decision I have made for my own personal well being.  I'm tired of fighting traffic, parking, overpriced mediocre food, and poor service.  I'm taking a break...for a while.  I'm cutting back.  Life evolves.


Raybeard said...

That time in 247 Bar was a moment of epiphany, admitting to yourself where you'd rather be i.e. back at home. I think we all get these moments increasingly with age.
I remember on many occasions like you standing alone in a bar in the forlorn hope that if I just wait a tiny bit longer Mr Wonderful is going to walk in. So you wait...and wait....and of course it doesn't happen.
When you're younger the excitement of what MIGHT happen over-rules rationality, but for you and me, Ron, such feelings have long since tipped the other way and we're more likely to think "Why the hell am I doing this?" The wisdom that comes with ageing, I like to think. Well, at least it's a consoling thought.

Ron said...


Your take is exactly right, when I was standing in that bar on that Saturday night many years go that is exactly the thought that came to my mind "What the hell am I doing here?" I left and never looked back. Bars where fun and exciting when I was younger but they became a habit. I'm glad I saw the Light.
Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

I am with you and from your picture it looks like it was a good time. Have you ever thought about doing mystery shops. Its pays for the meal and a little more to write the report and a check comes the following month. It has not only gotten me to try new things but meet a different variety of people as well. From reading your posts you enjoy your meals with friends .... so it looks like time to start a thursday lunch group.

the cajun said...

Sounds to me like you wish you had stayed in PA. Clearly you have never dined at either Stingray or Back Porch. You are totally off on the menu prices of both, and the fact that Back Porch has been here for ever is testimonial enough to the quality of their food.

The average prices on most menus in town are between $8 and $12 for lunch, and between $16 and $34 for dinner.

I never enjoyed those dine-out groups because they always went for cheap, regardless of quality. For the most part you get what you pay for and if not, don't repeat the experience.

But you've got to be good to yourself once in a while.

anne marie in philly said...

well, if I get down that way again, we ARE going out to saketumi on my dime. and NO ARGUMENTS from you! I'll even drive!

you have been advised.... ;-)

caliman said...

sounds like you are taking matters into your own hands--good! my experience is that it is ALWAYS easier doing things by myself, but then there is still that issue of isolation that pops up its thorny head. so maybe stick with the "never say never" policy. ever thought about having friends over to your house for dinner? you say you love to cook!

Ron said...

I have seen the mystery shopping ads but I assumed there were a scam. Are they real? I always thought that would be something I would like doing, But if it costs me money up front to get into the program, then I don't do it because it is a scam. I've fallen for too many scams already in my lifetime. No more.
I'm not into starting a dine-out group myself. I don't' want that responsibility.

Ron said...


Thanks for your advice. I probably went over the top with my criticism (do you think?) of the Back Porch Cafe and Stingray since I've never eaten there.

You're right about the dine out groups, they go on the cheap. You get what you pay for is true and believe me, it ain't much! I'm forgoing the get together tonight at Ruby Tuesday (do you think?) We ate there let month, forgettable and annoying and not really cheap either. I would rather eat at home.

I have other things on my "plate" now anyway.

Your comments are always welcome and appreciated here. Thanks again!

Ron said...

Anne Marie,

I'm not into sushi or seafood but if you want to go to a restaurant I'll go. You drive. I'm done with the driving.


Ron said...


You know me well. I have always been basically a loner. That is the way I'm most comfortable. Bill's biggest complaint about me is that I don't spend enough time with him, that I always "want to be alone." True.

As far as your suggestion for having a dine out group in my home. No, it wouldn't work now. Years ago I liked to cook for company. Something changed. I don't like to cook for company now. I don't want all those people roaming through my house with their dirty shoes and complaining about what I cook. When we first moved here I had another gay couple over a few times and all they did was complain about the food and put their feet up on my furniture. I finally had to tell them not to do it and they took offense. That ended the friendship. That and other factors have soured me on entertaining. We do it for one friend who we like very much (he never complains about what I cook) but he is the only exception. Thanks for advice anyway.

anne marie in philly said...

you got it, baybee! now we gotta figure out when I can get back down there again...