This past weekend, someone took me on a date to a Korean barbecue restaurant. I thought this was especially brave of him because there was a table-top grill right in between us and he knew full well that when I was around a small candle the weekend before, a jacket ended up on fire. But if he was nervous – and I believe he should have been – he didn’t show it.
Thankfully, I didn’t have any mishaps with the grill. I did, however, knock over a beer bottle with my chopsticks. And because this man was polite, the first thing he did was praise my reflexes.
“Plenty of practice,” my friend quipped when I told her about it the next day.
“That’s exactly what I said!!” I told her. “Years of practice!!”
“Happens all the time,” she shrugged. “At least it wasn’t red wine. You knock that over, and there’s always so much. I’ve done that. Just keeps comin’ and comin’.”
The way she said it made me think that she spilled an entire bottle of red wine, and I was tempted to ask her how she did that and where she was and who she was with, but I didn’t because I’m trying this new thing called “having manners.” And, while I’m at it, I’m also trying this other thing called “being quiet” – which is what I did when my date told me that one of the bars we were having a drink in before dinner was actually a temporary building put up to surround the ice rink in Bryant Park.
My immediate reaction was, “I am going to knock this over.” But I didn’t say that out loud, because I was practicing my quiet. Instead, I just said, “Oh, interesting. I did not realize that.”
(Of course, I’m not really fooling him with my attempt to play it cool because he has a link to this blog and he’s probably going to read this entry at some point. In which case: Hi.)
Anyway, I’m not sure why I was nervous about breaking the building. It’s not like I knocked one over before and I’m sure it’s up to code. That was just some worst-case-scenario thinking, which is a rather unfortunate thing to do on a date and a habit that I should really try to break.
“I think I need to be less dramatic about being accident prone,” I told another friend afterwards.
“But then what would you write about?” she asked. And that’s a good question because what am I if not an endless stream of stories about Triscuits choked on and wet leaves slipped upon and swimming pools that I have come thisclose to falling into while wearing a business suit. What am I really when you take all that away?
“I just feel like it’s turning into a self-fulfilling prophecy,” I explained. “I mean, don’t you think that since I started writing this blog there’s been a pretty serious uptick in my crazy shit?”
“No,” she said without missing a beat. And then she reminded me about the time that I was craning to see a coat while riding an escalator and hit my head on the one opposite ours. And the time I was delivering speaking notes to an executive at the front of a very packed auditorium and I tripped over my handbag.
“Alright, I get it,” I said. “There’s a pattern. I just feel like I’m blowing it out of proportion now.”
“Oh, you totally are,” she assured me. “You’re pulling these moments from entire days’ and weeks’ worth of normal events and writing about them for entertainment. And that’s fine. Just don’t blow them out of proportion when they happen in real life.”
And, that’s some very good advice. Perhaps some that I could have used Friday night when I was being especially mindful about not making any sudden movements with a napkin near a great many open flames.
“OK. One more question,” I said. “Don’t you think people will get bored of reading stories about trip and falls and all my other stupid shit?”
“The way you write them?” she asked. “No.” Not an ounce of hesitation. Just as flatly as before.
And that’s when I realized that even if I am unlucky, at least I’m blessed enough to have good friends. Because everyone needs at least one person who can calm you down by saying, “Don’t worry. I’ve done that before. Twice.” And then another to tell you that you’re at your best and when you’re serving up your worst.