Bring Me Your Lonely... Your Friendless... Your Hungry...
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When you work alone at home, you learn a few things about the solitary life. For instance, you learn that no one notices if you come to work without showering. When no oneís looking, itís perfectly acceptable to eat meals consisting solely of dry breakfast cereal (which you scooped out of the box with your bare hands). And, when you really need some human interaction, you learn where you can hang out by yourself without looking like a complete loser.

Iíve found that the mall is the best place to go alone. More specifically, the mallís food court is the place to go when youíre alone. The food court, after all, provides every bit of adventure that I could ask for.

Important Decisions
When I walk up to the food court, Iím immediately faced with a critical decision. Where will I eat? Should I go with the stuff thatís supposed to be Chinese, the stuff thatís supposed to be Mexican, the stuff thatís supposed to be Italian, or the stuff thatís supposed to be hamburger? The decision I make will set my path for the rest of the day. I could spend the afternoon in fatty happiness or in painful cramps. The choice is mine -Ė I must choose wisely.

A Listening Ear
Once I make my decision, I get to have a conversation with the friendly young person behind the counter. He or she will listen to my needs (for a huge double cheeseburger -Ė no tomato) and will then follow-up with questions (ďYou want fries with that?Ē). Then my friendly fast food fairy in the paper hat will call up the powers of the kitchen minions, who will meet all of my culinary needs (in return for $82.19). Yes, I have the power to make those troubled teens in hairnets prepare anything I want (as long as itís on the menu, and they have a picture explaining how to prepare it)!

A Crowd of Companions
After Iíve received my meal -Ė on a convenient tray Ė- Iím free to sit wherever I want (though Iíve found that itís best to choose a seat that isnít already occupied and/or covered in ketchup). And since there are so many seats that are squished so close together, itís hard to tell if Iím alone or a part of a big, friendly group of people. No one knows the difference (though we all know that all of us are alone and pretending not to be).

Fascinating Friends
As I munch on my tray full of fried grease and wash it down with liquid sugar, I have the opportunity to be a part of the lives of all the fantastically unique people around me. I can watch as the woman to my right scratches a stack of lottery tickets with the intensity of a scientist whoís about to discover the cure for cancer. Then I can try to figure out which language the man to my left is using to speak to himself (rather loudly, I might add). My food court friends are so much more interesting than my real friends!

The best part of it all is knowing that Iím not such a loser after all. I didnít just spend my last $50 on lottery tickets (and a small Coke). I donít talk to myself (at least not in public -Ė or in a language that could possibly be Klingon). And Iím not as fat, ugly, and/or criminally insane as these other people around me Ė- yet. (but if I keep hanging out at the food court, anything can happen).

I donít have to spend too long at the food court before I feel much less lonely and pathetic than I once did. Itís a good thing, too -Ė because itís best to hurry home before the cramps set in.

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