Friday, July 31, 2009

First Impressions

“I can’t believe you got dressed up.”

This is what Dawn said to me when I arrived at the restaurant.

“I’m not dressed up,” I started to say. Dawn raised one eyebrow.

Dawn and I are in the same book group. “I’ve seen you once a month for seven years,” she said. “This is dressed up.”

“Okay, okay. I did make a bit of an effort.” (It wasn’t like I put make up on.)

My “date” was talking to another woman. She hadn’t seen me yet. Dawn did not relent. “You dressed up!” she practically spat.

My jeans were torn and secondhand. And beyond that I was wearing a tee shirt. But my shirt matched my shoes, and my hair was blown straight, and simply those two concessions transform to elegant my usually shoddy self.

My date’s name is Gina and I met her through Dawn. That is to say, Gina and I became Facebook Friends because Dawn was a mutual acquaintance. And after six months of bantering off of each other’s status lines, it was her brave idea to finally meet.

“I’m nervous,” I wrote on her “wall.” “What if we meet and we don’t like each other?”

“I will like you plenty,” she wrote back. “Minus the tennis/scrabble/writer stuff.”

Gee, what else is there? I thought.

“Well, I’m just warning you, I don’t care about shoes or handbags,” I wrote. But there I was, wearing the cutest shoes and carrying the smartest handbag I own.

It wasn’t like a typical blind date. First of all, we’re both married, and second of all there were six other women with us. Nevertheless, I was still worried that I may not come across either as clever or amusing as I like to think I do on Facebook.

I know very little about Gina except that she’s witty and has an extensive shoe and purse collection. Oh, and she has curly hair – perhaps the single common trait upon which our relationship has been built.

Dawn and I, on the other hand, have spent countless evenings together dissecting plotlines, arguing character’s choices, sharing secret truths and, perhaps most notably, bluffing our way through a book discussion without ever having read the assigned book. So, of course, I couldn’t really believe she felt threatened.

When the night came to a close and Gina suggested we all get together again – maybe someplace quieter, easier to talk, like, say, Dawn’s house – Dawn looked at me and snorted. “I don’t know if I can take watching you two moon over each other all over again,” she said.

I shot her a big smile. She was really on a roll with this jealousy stuff.

“I’m not kidding,” she said to the both of us. And then, quietly, just to me: “You dressed up for her.”

I know that Dawn’s behavior seems a little crazy. But you know what’s crazier? I feel exactly that same way, almost all the time.

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