How To: Hang Out By Yourself, A Beginner's Tutorial

When everyone else is busy, it’s all too easy to make lazy onesie-focussed decisions because you’ve forgotten that going to the pub, having a proper nice lunch or going to see a film alone is even an option.

Jan 7, 2013 at 10:00am | Leave a comment

image

Firstly, Hanging Out By Yourself is different to Going On A Date With Yourself. The former is what happens when you have time alone and is perfectly normal. The latter is a construct designed to patronise single people, conjuring images of someone sitting in the cinema desperately snogging themselves.

Secondly, upon waking and discovering friends, fancymen/women, and family are otherwise engaged, it’s all too easy to make lazy onesie-focussed decisions because you’ve forgotten that going to the pub, having a proper nice lunch or going to see a film alone is even an option.

For example: I recently spent my day off conducting a gastronomic experiment (someone told me that if you eat a bag of prunes and drink loads of water they rehydrate in your stomach and you feel really weird. I’ve always thought they were lying. Turns out they were not lying and I looked like a hot air balloon for about 16 hours), before watching Sam Rockwell movies in my pants and tweeting things like “Hey would you rather have boobs for eyes or eyes for boobs?

This is an excellent way to pass the time on the odd occasion, but by midnight I started to suspect I may have wasted the day. This is why I have begun to learn the art of Hanging Out - laziness is okay in small doses, but if you’re bored to death, it will inevitably turn into Freaking Out.

So, don’t just sit around internally rehydrating prunes - here are some tips on learning to let go in a few non-threatening potential Hanging Out situations. 

NB: Museums, galleries and leisure centres do not feature here because they were essentially invented for Hanging Out By Yourself. The Cinema was almost left out but, after light research, it became clear that there are some who fear facing the silver screen alone.

The advanced tutorial includes: theme parks, birthdays, nightclubs, Christmas, holidays abroad and dance classes that specify you need to sign up in pairs.

THE CINEMA 
It’s dark, loads of people go to the cinema alone and the whole point is you’re not supposed to talk to anyone. This is basically the gateway drug of Hanging Out By Yourself.

1. You don’t have to share popcorn. You don’t even have to eat popcorn. If you’re hanging out by yourself, why not go to one of those posh cinemas where you can take in a barbecued ribeye and salad garnish or whatever?

Why not take a barbecue in? To hell with fire regulations! This is Hanging Out By Yourself Time! (Don’t take a barbecue in because fire regulations are important regardless of what time it is).

2. You don’t have to issue of getting stuck with a cinema-friend who asks stupid things like “who’s xxxx? ” and “I need the loo” and “I can’t see the film through the barbecue smoke”

3. Arrive exactly on time so you don’t have to faff around waiting in the foyer for ages. Because that sort of Hanging Out By Yourself is really boring.

image

All by myself...

THE PARK

It may feel like the park is full people walking along laughing and chatting and sitting on benches playfully swatting each other with battenburg, but loads of people go to the park solo. Be one of them. Parks are pretty.

1. Have a playlist readymade with really atmospheric songs so you can walk around pretending you’re an MI6 agent who’s just gone for a walk in the park to clear her head before her next case etc. Or to just make the walk more enjoyable.

2. Go off the boring gravel paths and into uncharted territory. You might find a garden! A secret one!! DICKON FROM THE SECRET GARDEN MIGHT BE THERE WITH HIS FLUTE!!!!!!!

3. If there’s a nice view and a bench, don’t feel the need to sit on the bench and stare at the view. I often feel pressured into activities like sitting on benches and looking at views because that’s the done thing, but the great thing about Hanging Out By Yourself is you can do whatever. Bollocks to the view. Have a two minute sit with your back to the view.

4. If it’s a hot day make the ultimate picnic, bring a really good book, pack your sunglasses and make sure you have something to sit on. Oh and I think it looks good when people use trees as backrests while sitting and reading, sort of like an album cover. That’s just a personal, aesthetic preference though.

5. Don’t take Instagram pictures and post them on your social media because we all know what a tree/a path/the sun looks like and pairing it with a quote from a poem doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s a picture of a duck that looks old but isn’t. OK that’s another personal preference, this is your Hanging Out By Yourself time and you can do whatever you like with it. Sorry.

A RESTAURANT
When you see someone eating dinner solo, your first thought is probably not “Haha that guy doesn’t have any friends” but more likely to be “That guy has some time to kill so is having dinner” or “That man is eating” or “Christ that looks good, I’m so smug I also went with the ravioli.” Chill out and revel in the fact you’re at a trendy pizzeria being someone Sam Rockwell would be proud to know.

1. The “table for one” bit is, weirdly, the hardest. I always go for a “just the one please” because “table for one” sounds like something out of a film, and not the cool one with the MI6 agent who walks in parks listening to her iPod in an attempt to clear her head (see: Parks). More like the one about a “singleton” (can we all boycott this word, please?) who mopes around saying “table for one” in an overly dramatic way before crying into her spag bol because she’s alone. Which is not the image you’re aiming for.

2. Speak in a different accent. Why? Because it will make you laugh and you’re there to entertain yourself. If you reserve a table, try giving a famous name. You’ll get the best table and the disappointment on their faces will be hilarious.

3. Choose a window seat so you can peoplewatch. Or a table in the corner so you can, rather sinisterly, watch everyone in the restaurant. Fingers crossed for an argument/proposal/divorce/dog running in and biting the waiter on the behind etc.

4. Ask as many questions about the menu as you bloody like. Take ages.

5. Don’t read a book because you’ll get sauce on it, especially if you’ve picked somewhere that specialises in fingerfood. Kindles are fine except for the fact they’re destroying the book industry and tearing my world apart because I really want one and I hate myself for it. Digression.

6. Actually, books are a good idea for between courses. Notebooks are good too, so you can write stuff down (obviously) and people will think you’re probably a genius. Magazines work because it doesn’t matter if you get nacho on them.

7. Do whatever you want except get drunk. Accidentally being drunk on your own is fun, especially when you’ve decided to have one glass watching a film which turns into a bottle which turns into drunkenly falling asleep on the couch which turns into a relatively amusing anecdote.

Accidentally being drunk on your own with a load of strangers can feel weird and go wrong. For a start, your flawless impression of an Austrian accent might slip.

THE PUB
A place built purely for socialising, nice gastropubs can be quiet havens of WiFi for those who work better when they’ve had a pint of Aspall. Also, no screaming children or mothers talking about nipple clamps which happens all too often in cafes.

1. Go to a nice pub with no screaming children or mothers talking about nipple clamps.

2. See: point 7 in the previous section.

You probably know all of this already. Maybe you all go alone to high tea at the Savoy every Tuesday or delight in nothing more than a good day at the zoo tout seul (I’ve ran out of English synonyms for “alone”) and this article is just a terrible insight into abandonment issues I never realised I had. Christ. 

Any other venues you guys can think of when Hanging Out By Yourself? Do you Hang Out By Yourself? Most interestingly, does anyone else do weird stuff in the throes of cabin fever?

Stevie is alone and tweeting about the fact she’d prefer eyes for boobs because it’s easier to hide and less likely to get her kidnapped by scientists at @5tevieM