Monday, September 28, 2009

Let's Just Say

I ended the evening by telling a blind man "it was nice to see you!"

Gah. I should not be allowed in public.

I arrived at the dinner location 15 minutes late. I don't know what happened; I think sometimes there is a time warp surrounding my house, and I just fell in it. I called on the way, though, so it's not like they were waiting on me (and my delicious salad) to eat.

The cast of dinner characters included:

Cathy, the hostess. She was very nice, but I couldn't really get any sense of her personality because she was fairly quiet.

Mike, the old guy. One of the people I found on facebook, whose birthday was listed as 12.5 years prior to mine. Yet, during a conversation about Austin-area high schools, he mentioned something about graduating in a year that was 7 years prior to the year I graduated. Ummm? Perhaps I mis-heard him when he mentioned his year of graduation. Also, I think he mentioned it on purpose to determine my year of high school graduation, and therefore my age.

Sarah & Matt, the married couple. Yeah, so there was a married couple at the singles group get-together. Apparently, if you meet your husband/wife in the group, the people in charge aren't too picky about whether you still attend events. This couple has been married for 3 years. Matt was really into sports, and an Aggie. Sarah was very nice, but a little odd. She mentioned that the group's last happy hour was at the Flying Saucer, but not well-publicized because some people felt the location was inappropriate. Evidently, the waitresses wear really short shorts? I've never noticed that about the place, so my response to her description was non-committal. Plus, I think she was trying to gauge my reaction to see which side of the fence I'd land on in the "debate." I suspect she was voting with the "inappropriates," although I couldn't tell exactly from her description. I'm in the "who cares" camp.

James, who has a crazy ex and sat just a liiiitle to close to me at dinner. I think I may have actually strained my back a little from leaning slightly away from him for that hour and a half dining experience. His crazy ex came to light when he received a phone call on his cell phone just as we'd all sat down. He looked at the caller ID, and excused himself to take the call. He was gone 10 - 15 minutes. When he returned, he apologized and said he would have to leave right after dinner and catch up with us all again at the after party. He said his daughter's mother had something come up that she needed to take care of, so he needed to go watch his (nine year old) daughter for a while. He took another call about 30 minutes later, which I assume was her again. It's a good thing James is not at all my tall, kind, handsome, funny, un-selfish, non-smoking, employed future husband, because those were some serious red flags going up on what his personal life might be like. He did leave dinner early and showed up again at the after-party a couple of hours later.

Two people on the list didn't show up. One lady hadn't responded to any of the emails, so I wasn't surprised that she wasn't there. The other lady had a family medical emergency, so she had to go out of town.

The dinner was pleasant, and my salad was delicious. Everyone but James and I had known each other for a while, so it was a little strange to be both new and the youngest person at dinner. (Okay, the married couple was probably only a couple of years older than me, but everyone else was at least 40.) I enjoyed the conversation, but didn't feel like I'd be developing friendships with anyone.

I did get a slight vibe from James that he was diggin' my chili, what with the close-sitting and attention-focusing. Right, did I mention that he seemed a little TOO interested in where I live? Dinner conversation turned to what part of town everyone lived in, and I talked about my new pink house. He asked what street I live on. Hey, stalker, thanks for stalking! Did I mention my fancy security alarm?? Luckily, I did not have to bust out a Sorry, But No type of speech for him. Probably, my spanx were cutting off some critical circulation and I mis-read the situation. It's only been, like, 10 years since I've been in the dating world, after all.

At nine o'clock, everyone left their dinners and converged at another member's house for dessert. I was so sad to see people busting out pre-packaged desserts. I mean, I love me some HEB sugar cookies with neon frosting, but if I'd been quicker on the email, I could've had an excuse to bake! Oh well.

When I arrived, there were only a few people at the house who weren't my fellow diners. I introduced myself around, and immediately got stuck with a fella I'll call Busy Bee. He was wearing a black and yellow-striped shirt, and he had stored up words for days to unleash on me. Seriously, I barely said Hello and My Name Is before he launched into a story that encompassed not only his day (doing yard work for the host and the week wacker broke but he didn't have the right tools and he strained his shoulder trying to take it apart but he eventually borrowed a tool from the neighbor and wasn't it hot out that day also be sure to never buy a certain brand of tool because they suck) but also his resume (WalMart for 28 days and also some state agency but more recently hauling stone all over Texas and did you know you can use your own car because some people do but it's a lot of wear and tear also there is some water based blah blah you can hook up to your car to make more fuel efficient but be sure you use a regulator because if you don't you'll flood your engine and when you open the hood the engine sure will be clean hahahaha). If I'd had anything to eat or drink--I hadn't even made it that far yet!--I would've pretended to choke to get away from him. I was intent on excusing myself as soon as he took a breather. . .but he never did.

At one point, a lady saw us talking and came over to introduce herself. Perhaps she noticed a slightly panicked look about me. Busy Bee shook hands with her, but never stopped talking. He barely even looked at her! (And she was wearing a fairly low-cut dress, too.) She stood there for a minute, looking back and forth between us. I kept nodding at her slightly, trying to use my eyebrows to telegraph that she should take my hand and lead me to safety, but she evidently didn't speak unruly eyebrow because she gave a little shrug and walked away.

So what seemed like elevently billion minutes later, when Busy Bee FINALLY took a breath, I told him I was going to get a drink and asked if he wanted anything. I. . .don't know why I even offered. What if he had followed me over there? Instead, he started talking about the desserts. And I walked away. I didn't even look back. And, I didn't see him for the rest of the evening. I'm going to assume he either cornered some other newbie or some of the veteran members--who I saw walking past while he was talking at me, giving me the ol' HAha look--were able to entertain him.

I busied myself at the dessert table (apple pie from Costco, ehh--but there was ice cream!) and grabbed the last seat at one of the card tables the host had set up to accomodate the 30 or so folks in attendance. I can't eat pie with ice cream standing up. The people sitting there looked nice, and they were. Kate was very energetic and outgoing, though I nearly managed to call her old. Again, it was a where did you grow up/go to high school conversation, and she mentioned that she attended the high school which my high school (senior year) boyfriend attended. I told her I knew a few people who went to that school, and she asked who they were. Somehow I managed to keep my foot out of my mouth and NOT tell her I was sure she didn't know them because they are my age, not hers. Instead, I dutifully named off a few people, who it turns out she didn't know. But I enjoyed talking to her about The Good HEB, shoe shopping, and how margaritas are made in MN. (Allegedly they add hazelnuts?!? News to me, and requiring of further investigation on my part.) I may have busted into her trying to make a love connection with Andrew, who was pleasant enough, and also slightly drunk. Here's hoping they see each other again sometime.

Speaking of seeing. . . At one point, one of the group members escorted over a blind man. She introduced him around, and got him a chair to sit with us. It was very loud in the room, and it made for a couple of awkward moments when he couldn't tell who was talking to who and thought someone might be asking him a question. Perfectly understandable, though, given the situation, and he seemed to enjoy talking to us regardless.

Close to 11, people started leaving all at once. I met a few more folks who I hadn't met during the party. (Yes, I totally plopped myself down equidistant from the wine and desserts and didn't move around at all to mingle.) The blind gentleman's ride came by, and he was saying goodbye to everyone. And there it was, my "It was nice to see you!"

ARGH! Like I couldn't have gone with "nice to meet you" or "nice to visit with you" or "have a nice rest of the weekend" or ANYTHING else, REALLY? It's a good thing he couldn't see the shade of beet red I turned after that idiotic remark. Luckily, I was pretty much out the door into the dark at that point. Maybe I can volunteer to bring a dessert and a big slice of Shut The Heck Up to the next party. I'll split my slice with Busy Bee.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Things You Do

I accidentally signed up to have dinner with seven strangers on Saturday night.

Let me back up: a few weeks ago, I emailed the membership coordinator and asked to join. . .let's call it My Religion Singles Group. . .at the church I grew up attending. The group volunteers for several charities the church supports (meals on wheels type groups, Capital Area Food Bank, etc.) and has regular social activities. The MRSG is one of two groups for non-married people at the church; the other is for an age group I'm a couple of years beyond. I thought it might be an opportunity to meet people and have a little bit more of a social life. (Let's make that A social life instead of Practically None.) Okay, who am I kidding? I thought perhaps there might be a tall, kind, handsome, funny fella near my age in the group who wants to marry me and have children, so I should probably go ahead and open myself up to meeting him.

Since I joined, MRSG has had two events that I've skipped. One was a housewarming party at a member's new house. It seemed weird to me to show up and meet people for the first time at someone's housewarming party. The next event was a planning meeting for future MRSG events. I debated about attending that one--I am quite the planner, both personally and professionally, so it seemed like I might fit right in. But. . .I thought it would be weird to show up to plan future events for a group where I don't know anyone and that I don't even know if I really want to belong. This would be where "seems weird" equals "feels uncomfortable" because I am actually quite shy and also holy crap could this lead to dating which is nice in theory but also means that some dude might see me naked eventually. And only one dude has seen me naked in the last, ohhh, ten(ish) years. (Of course that guy hasn't seen me naked in, like, at least eight months because he divorced me.)

Naturally, the next step was facebook searching. I checked around to see if I could find any of the members who were listed in the weekly newsletters, and I found three--all men. One of them is 12.5 years older than I am, and I am not exactly a young 'un. One of them looks 15 years older than I am, but congratulations to him for buying a new house! The third guy looks like he also might be in the 10 - 15 years older range, but he stood out to me because I had a tiny moment of panic when I saw his profession and thought he might work for the same company that employs me. Luckily, he wasn't in the company address book.

So maybe I don't want to belong to the group if they're all. . .old. Not that someone who is 10 years older than me is so over the hill, but is my tall, kind, handsome, funny, unselfish future husband ten years older than me? No, he isn't. Are any of my friends 10 to 15 years older than me? No, none of them. My best girlfriends are all pretty much my age. Even among their husbands, the oldest is only 7 or 8 years older than me. I think of it like this: let's say I'm 29. (Especially since that is the age I like to tell people I am, although it is not exactly true, ha!) Would I want to befriend/spend time with/date a 19 year old? I would not.

But back to the accidental dinner. The MRSG newsletter made several mentions of "Dinners for 8" starting up. In my head, this meant that they have a season (several months, maybe until next summer?) of monthly dinners. When you sign up to join the Dinners for 8 group, you get a list of months/dates and decide which month you are able to attend and if you would like to host. Everyone in the group is invited to an after-party, where dessert is served. Hosts volunteer, and if you aren't able to host, you can volunteer to co-host (provide food for a non-cooking host). I thought this would be a good way to get to know some people. My house is undergoing renovations, so I volunteered to co-host if anyone needed one. I was looking forward to seeing the list of dates available, and picking one that would give me some time to get a little more mentally and physically ready to meet a whole bunch of new people, including my possible future tall, kind, handsome, funny, unselfish, employed husband.

Yesterday, I received an email letting me know that I would be attending dinner at "Cathy's" house on Saturday night, with these six other guests, and I would hear from her soon to find out the details.

What. . .the. . .what??

I started reading back through the newsletter, and realized that I apparently skimmed over the actual information on the dinners in favor of inventing what I thought would be the process. Doh! Thank goodness the host wasn't expecting me to provide a meal for everyone.

Evidently, I have until Saturday night to put on my big girl panties and realize that meeting new people can be fun and totally not weird or scary. I can probably cowgirl up enough to not be totally shy and spend the evening sucking down wine and desserts instead of talking to strangers, right? Having such a short amount of time until the dinner will actually cut down on the time I have to worry about what I'll wear, or how my brow waxing appointment isn't for another week and a half, oh yeah and that's the same week I have my highlights appointment, but thank goodness I have a hair cut appointment tonight already, and am I getting a PMS zit right in the middle of my chin, oh dang it I didn't respond to the email in time and now I have to bring a stupid salad so I don't have my dessert-making charms to fall back on, plus where are my spanx because I totally haven't lost that extra 15 (or 20) pounds, and am I actually asking the internet for a SALAD recipe like I've never been to a potluck before?

Bring on the wine and desserts.