Monday, August 6, 2007

Meeting an Old Crush

Reading about Jeana’s experience meeting a current crush, I am reminded of my own mortifying experience meeting an Old Crush.

When I was a wee sophomore in high school (literally wee, I was quite tiny), I had an ENORMOUS crush on a senior named Tom. We were on the tennis team together. He lived just a few blocks away from me and sometimes gave me a ride home in his yellow car. His mother had been my 4th grade reading teacher. Tom lived next door to one of my close high school friends/rivals, Mike. Now you see all the ways in which our lives were entwined when I was 16 and he was 18.

Fast-forward 7 years. Tom’s graduated from Purdue and married a nice girl. I’ve graduated from Harvard. I’ve just finished a 6-month stint living in London and let me tell you, I am convinced down to my toes that I AM SOPHISTICATED. Never mind that I’m 23 and it’s REAL HARD to be sophisticated at that age. I know my own power. I have no idea what I’m going to do with my life, and it will be another FIVE YEARS before I formulate anything resembling an actual career, but I have a swishy new London hair cut and I am sure that I am positively shiny with London sophistication. At least, I thought so.

I was back in the Dallas/Fort Worth area to visit family, and to attend the wedding of my old high school friend/rival, Mike. I didn’t realize until the ceremony was over and we were heading for the reception that Tom, his new wife and his parents were all there. Made sense. They knew Mike well. Still, I felt a little flutter. Not that I still had a crush on Tom. Puh-lease. This sophisticated lady? Sheesh. That was yeeeeeears ago. I’d moved on. British boys are cute. (Well, some of them.) But still. I did want to make a good impression on the guy I’d loved from afar for so long.

As I walked into the Dallas hotel reception hall, past the A&M ice sculpture and the maroon-rose-petaled wedding cake, I saw two round tables full of people nearby. The table against the far wall was full of my high school friends. They waved, I waved, and I headed to the seat they’d saved for me. The table I had to pass to get to my seat included Tom, his new wife, and his parents. I shook my sophisticated hair out of my eyes and walked toward them, confident I was making a fabulous impression. Tom’s Mom saw me and waved, I waved, we now all openly acknowledged that I would stop for a moment and there would be chatting. Just as I got within audible range, Tom’s Mom leaned across her table, patted Tom’s hand, pointed at me and stage-whispered the following crushing line:

“Look, Tom. It’s your little friend.”

I was sure time stopped and those mortifying words were echoing around the room, stopping all other conversations. Even now it kind of affects my breathing just to remember it. I suspect I turned lollipop red although no one has ever been unkind enough to confirm it. I threw on my Southern Lady, Gracious in the Face of All Adversity act, shook hands with Tom, his new wife, Tom’s Mom and Dad, murmured something charming or at least forgettable, and turned to make my exit. Tom’s Mom followed up her first wholly unconscious attack with a second, equally lethal and unconscious, barb: “Honey, you look just the same as you did when you were 10!”

Oh. Right. So much for sophistication.

The only small comfort I took from that whole experience:

1) I did not trip and fall while walking toward them.

2) I did not discover later that there was a big hole or stain on my clothes.

3) There was no spinach in my teeth.

4) Tom looked as uncomfortable as I felt. It may have been indigestion, it may have been sympathy. At any rate, he too failed to enjoy the occasion. For some reason, that helped.

1 comment:

Jeana said...

Oh yes. It always helps the person with the crush to know that the object of the crush is just as uncomfortable as she is.