My DW and I had this discussion and came up with zero conclusions. I travel to major cities in the US and find myself eating solo most nights. I take these opportunities to try restaurants I would like and my DW might not or just go where I would like.
The question arises on what people at the surrounding tables may think as rude vs acceptable (just a thought, I try to keep to myself during these solo jaunts). My DW and I came up with several options:
1 - Stare at others
2 - Stare into space
3 - Do e-mails on my Blackberry
4 - Play video games on my Blackberry
5 - Read a book/magazine
6 - Speak QUIETLY on my cell phone
My normal modus operendi is,
1 - Check out the dishes others are enjoying to see if that influences my decision
2 - Glance at others and then try to figure out the relationship between the parties. This can take awhile especially with a 4-top with several age categories
3 - Do some e-mails
4 - Chat quietly with my DW at home, both a good thing (get connection) and a bad thing (miss her), or
5 - Read a book/magazine when all else fails
Does anyone feel uncomfortable when they sit next to a single who is doing any of the above (I do not gawk in number 2, just glance). I know people will say that the cell phone bothers them but my volume is lower than anyone else's.