The Bon Vivant

Our man-about-town discovers that taking a seat at the bar is a social act, even for the solo sipper

Ryan Mitson Illustration

Earlier this year, for no apparent reason, multiple stories were published about the stigma of eating in a restaurant alone, each of them offering counsel as to why no one should feel self-conscious for doing so. I appreciate these pieces having been written, but I don’t understand why they need to exist.

I’ve never felt self-conscious about dining solo. I’d argue, in fact, that it’s often a superior experience to dining as part of a couple or a group. Without the pressures or distraction of conversation, one can fully appreciate a meal, consume it at a preferred pace, and get lost in a book or people-watching or whatever private reveries help the mind relax and the heart sing.

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The Bon Vivant

The patio scene isn’t for everyone, including our man about town

Ryan Mitson Illustration

In many ways, I’ve always been hilariously unsuited to Vancouver, despite having lived here for the best part of 20 years. While I enjoy observing nature from the distant vantage point of a high-rise apartment, actually venturing into it makes me anxious and irritated. I look upon the lifestyle cults surrounding yoga, spinning and clamshell salads—ostensibly expressions of joyful living, yet deadly serious—as if they were the Republic of Gilead.

But what situates me permanently at the fringe of the party that is this city (this beautiful, very expensive party) is my habitual response to the arrival of summer. When everyone else rushes hysterically into the streets, as if drawn by the promise of eternal youth and free poké bowls, I draw the blinds and cower until nightfall.

I don’t want to be this person, but I have no choice: I’m a ginger.

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The Bon Vivant

Cocktails, our man-about-town discovers, are not just for the rich, or even the pretend rich

Illlustration by Ryan Mitson.

didn’t pull up a stool to a proper bar—by which I mean one whose stock-in-trade is cocktails, and whose staff is formally schooled in the art of same—until my early 30s. A variety of reasons contributed to this delayed milestone, including having been raised in a near-teetotal household, in a small city whose population overwhelmingly prefers beer, coupled with early teenage drinking experiences (usually at a suburban house party or in some miserable pitch-black field) of the sort that seem contrived to ensure one never wants to drink again.

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