Here’s Why I Eat on the Couch Almost Every Night

published Feb 5, 2018
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(Image credit: Mental Art + Design/Stocksy)

A couple of years ago, I was obsessed with Downton Abbey, because a couple of years ago, we were all obsessed with Downton Abbey. Every Sunday night, I would watch reverently as Lady Mary was impeccably dressed by Anna Bates and Cora Crawley politely ate savory meals served on silver platters. Meanwhile, I’d be sitting cross-legged on my couch, wearing a worn-out Fleetwood Mac T-shirt and shoving Bagel Bites in my mouth like they’d just been banned by the government.

Despite how lovely the Crawleys and countless other non-aristocratic adults make eating at an actual table look, I’ll opt for my sofa cushions any night of the week.

I’ve lived in my apartment for a solid decade and have probably eaten at the kitchen table a dozen times, total. Occasionally, I’ll trade the couch for eating a meal while standing over the kitchen sink, eating pieces of Costco rotisserie chicken with my hands (THIS COULD ALL BE YOURS, GENTLEMEN!) while a deadline waits for me at my desk, but it’s rare that the table is used for anything other than a display case for my dust collection.

I’ve wondered why I’m so table-averse (and yes, I’ll sit at other people’s tables, at friends’ houses, and at restaurants; let’s not make this weird) and I think that ultimately, it might be a way of clinging to a tiny piece of my childhood. I had some glorious, sitcom-worthy formative years and, at the end of almost every day, my entire family sat at our kitchen table, talking about our respective days and, almost every night, our meal ended with a lot of laughter. But on rare occasions — mostly if my mom and I were home by ourselves — my mom would pull out a pair of metal TV trays, we’d sit on the couch, eating pot pies, watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! and it felt like a treat. I loved those times.

Now, a decade or so from leaving home, I’m single and have zero children (I’m well past Lady Edith on the Unfortunate Relationships spectrum), so that bustling, busy dinner table isn’t happening. Sitting at an otherwise empty table, having my meal for one sometimes feels like it amplifies all the things that I don’t have — even though marriage or my own mini-me aren’t things I actively dwell on or wish for (except on those rare times when I do).

So I eat on the couch instead. During the meal, I watch TV, catch up on reading, text with friends, or admire my coffee table. And I almost always think back to those dressed-down special occasions I had as a kid. Even the Crawleys might understand that.

How many nights a week do you eat on the couch?