I went on a date the other day. I changed my outfit a few times before I settled on something that was cute, creative, seasonally appropriate but still sleek, and stylish without being generically fashionable. It had to look thrown together without being sloppy, involve a cool necklace, feature boots, hide all of my flaws and emphasize all of my most attractive characteristics. It had to make people think, “That girl is awesome,” without even realizing why they were thinking that.
Getting ready for my first date with Bear took about ten minutes. But that’s because he’s a guy.
As expected, she is wearing a perfect outfit. With a silvery white cotton scarf, a chunky, worn leather belt, and riding boots. She is prettier than the photos of her online. Thick, lustrous dark hair with a quirky little elfin braid on one side, a sudden, big smile. She is clearly confident.
I trip over my words, trying to say hi and then something funny in quick succession.
She looks straight at me, sizing me up, judging me from head to toe in the space of a swift, non-judgmental glance. We wait in line for coffee. I’m bad at talking in a line. I want to face the person I’m having a conversation with, and then I get distracted when I have to move forward and figure out what kind of latte to buy and get money out of my purse and put the change back in and step enough to the side so that someone else can order while I’m trying to get the change back into the zipped pouch and the cash back into the folded section of my wallet. All of this is much, much worse when I’m trying to say clever things and look poised and ask the right questions.
She doesn’t look like she is flustered, or trying to think of something to say. So often, girls don’t. They look calm. They have it together.
I want them to like me. I want them to ask me to hang out again. I want to be good at making friends with other girls.
I remember a girl I’ve been friends with forever (since before an age when you had to win people over with your charming personality and ability to nonchalantly wear the skinniest jeans in the world) telling me about meeting another girl in a class at college. The other girl was cool and easy going and mischievous. The kind of girl my friend really wanted to be friends with. Suddenly, she was nervous. She had to figure out a way to get this girl to have coffee with her. She had to approach her casually, after class, as though by accident. She had to act like the thought had just popped into her head, like she was the kind of person who just asked people to grab some coffee with her all the time.
She was frustrated and laughing at herself, saying, “Why is this so much harder than asking a guy out?”
I am friends with other women. My closest friends have always been other women. But I am never tired of meeting them. I never stop caring what they think, when I already think they’re cool. And I’ve noticed that as I get older, it just gets more complicated. Everyone already seems to have a wide circle of friends. We’ re all always casually alluding to them.
“Yeah, I’m gonna just hang around here and meet up with a friend after this.”
“A bunch of my friends love this place.”
“My friends are all in the city.”
Some of us say “best friend” a lot, too. Or even “best friends.” Like tiny walls. These roles are already filled, no need to even audition.
We’re all busy, and the drama of our lives plays out on small stages– our immediate surroundings, the space between work and home. Anything more than a ten minute subway ride away is a stretch, unless it’s for someone we’ve known long enough to know we can tell them everything.
I meet women for lunch and coffee all over the city- friends of friends, blogging contacts, professional writers I want to connect with– but I don’t really expect to see them again. Our lives are already established. We are busy being already complete. Which is why I have to try so much harder to win them over. I want to be the one who stands out enough to get a call back. I want to become the new friend.
Before I met Bear, when I was dating men, getting coffee felt so simple. Men liked me for being a woman. If I was attractive and funny on top of that, I was practically perfect. But with other women, I have to be so much more.
She laughs at my jokes. She is calm. She answers me articulately. She gestures naturally, and adjusts her elegant scarf. She seems to like me. She mentions her group of best friends who all live in the city. They usually hang out in Brooklyn. I wonder if I’ll ever see her again.
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Un-roast: Today I love the way I can sometimes make other people laugh
P.S. If you didn’t read it because it was Christmas, read the spam post. And then tell me how funny it is. Because right now I’m feeling like one of three people who thinks it’s hilarious. And that makes me sad.
P.P.S. Also, while I’m telling you to do stuff: send me photos of yourself with cake!
New post at Un-schooled, about maybe being a homeschooler forever.