DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm a single guy in his late 50s who enjoys recharging as a solo diner in restaurants. Sometimes I'll catch up on reading, other times I people-watch, and other times, I simply enjoy quiet time with myself. (Notice I did not say "by" myself.)
Could you please advise restaurant hosts that it is degrading to say, "Just one?" as I am approached to be seated? This has been a pet peeve of mine since I was the head host at a restaurant in my 20s: I taught my staff never to greet solitary diners with such a rude opening.
My response to the unaware and unthinking when this happens -- which is almost every time -- is, "Isn't one enough?"
Food for thought, dear Miss Manners. I'd certainly appreciate you passing this little nugget to those working in food service.
GENTLE READER: Sure -- if you can suggest a suitable substitution. Miss Manners notices that you pointedly did not, perhaps because it is such an innocuous thing to say.
She suggests, "Table for one?" since any inoffensive number can be plugged in there. Or even just, "How many in your party?"
But in the absence of this, it seems far more likely that your restaurant hosts are simply trying to assess where to seat you -- not shame you for being alone -- with their innocent use of the word "just" or "only." It is you who is attaching meaning to it.
And speaking of semantics, Miss Manners is afraid she fails to see a substantive difference between "with" and "by" myself, except that the former sounds much more salacious.