It's a middle-schooler's biggest fear: sitting alone in the cafeteria. And today I did it for the first time. It was a little sad, because it reminded me that I have virtually no friends at work. At the age of 60, I am one of the last survivors of a massive age cohort that has all but evaporated into retirement and other (better!) jobs. It reminded me of the wistfulness my parents express when they hear that yet another friend of theirs has died.
My daughter used to beg to stay home rather than face the humiliation of a solitary sitting after she and her best friend had a tiff. Humiliation wasn't in play for me today, and aside from the whiff of melancholy about the way the company has peeled away my work friends, I enjoyed the solitude—especially since I was armed with a really great egg-salad wrap and a free People magazine (I'm a sucker for hard-luck stories about Elizabeth Edwards). And then there was this delightful mention in a review of "The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag," by Alan Bradley: "Bradley, who made his debut as a novelist at 73, plans four more Flavia adventures. The first two are utterly beguiling." Hell, I've got a whole lifetime of achievement ahead of me!