Staying Sane & Satiated: Start A Dinner Club If You Love Food & Hate Life

It’s a book club for restaurants and it’s perfect.

I have dinner with three women once a month and it’s the secret to my sanity. It’s a dinner club, or a book club for food. We take turns picking the restaurant so each gal gets three picks a year. In February, I picked Hart’s. In June, we’re going to a Mets game. (It counts.) Dinner club was my friend Monica’s idea, you can send her Nobel Prize to the West Village.

While it sounds like a simple thing, in five months of doing this I’ve come to understand just how nice it is to have dinner club to look forward to. It’s just dinner, it’s not like once a month I get flown to Anguilla (though we accept sponsorships), but the impact it’s had on me speaks to something I’ve heard a lot about lately: adult friends.

In school, which we were in for the first 21 years of our lives (at least) friends were baked in. They were always around, there were always more of them, it was the land of plenty. As adults going from apartment to subway to desk to subway to apartment, it’s easy to look around and realize there’s nobody to get ramen with on a Tuesday.

Dinner club is the modern day equivalent of sharing a locker. As grown up women, we complain that it’s hard to make friends, because it’s really hard to make friends. And once you do make friends, one by one, life inevitably happens to them. They get engaged, they plan weddings, they get married, they get pregnant, they have babies, and by the time you tally up how much time you’ve spent together in five years it’s barely the length of an episode of Versailles.

Because you, the casual friend, aren’t the priority–their life trajectory is, and it should be. It’s okay that life happens, but I think we need to spend more time with people who life is happening to similarly to how it’s happening to us. When you start a dinner club of women who are in the same life place you’re in, dinner club isn’t just a priority, it is your fucking salvation.

Once a month, I have a night that I know involves casual, fun friendship and I find having this thing to look forward to very restorative. Getting these women together isn’t like herding zebras into a ziplock bag, as multi-person dinners so often are. We all want to do this, so we make it happen, schedules be damned. I know for a fact I have one awesome night a month. Do you?

Stop scrolling though other people’s lives and make this happen. Find a friend, ask her to find a friend, and ask that friend to bring one more person aboard. (I suggest four people, it’s the max you can have and still share plates.) It’s better when you can intro at least two people who don’t know each other at all, and expand one another’s circles.

I promise you that dinner club is going to bring joy to your life. Here’s why.

There’s consistency.

When I have dinner or drinks with a friend, I know I’m not going to see them again for a long time. This is New York, friendships can take massive gaps without either party getting offended, but at least one party is probably going to get lonely. I see these hens once a month and I know it. It’s something firm to count on in a world where nothing apart from garbage stench is consistent.

We all love food, and fun restaurants, and trying the next amazing thing. Now we know we have someone to try that thing with. It doesn’t hurt that this particular crew has amazing taste in food and location scouting, so bear that in mind when you’re selecting who you’re calling corners with in this particular coven.

There’s no “you never know…”

There is no secondary goal here. We don’t go out because “we might meet someone.” We go out because we already have. We’ve met each other, we like each other, and this isn’t us searching for a meat market, it’s us searching for meat at market price.

There’s guaranteed fun.

When I’m going on a date, I never know if I’m going to enjoy myself that evening. I never know if the night will be a waste of effort and BB cream. Actually, I probably do know it’s going to be a waste of both. That never happens with dinner group. I always, absolutely always have a good time. Guaranteed fun gets more and more expensive as you get older. I don’t know if I’m going to enjoy random drinks at a speakeasy anymore but I know for damn sure that ticket to Tokyo was well spent money. Dinner club is a simple mild expenditure with massive ROI, every time.

There’s no NYC pretension.

I’m busy Wednesday, but how about five weeks from Friday? Lord Beyoncé give me strength. What has happened to us? Why is this life now? Dinner club reminds me that if it’s something people actually want to do, they’ll do it. That coffee date you’ve rebooked four times probably isn’t much of a priority for either of you.

There’s an understanding.

In my club, we’re content creators. We love design, we love surroundings, we love a good ‘gram of shrimp cocktail. There’s no judgment across the table when we photograph each dish, boomerang a first spoonful, and ask permission to dig into anything. This is how we do, and we like it.

In conclusion, get you a dinner club who looks at you the way you look Instagram. With appreciation, interest, and an endless appetite for more.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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