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The awkwardness of a setup

By J.A. HaglFebruary 15, 2017

Picnic date
Picnic date

"Please go say hi."

As a person known for being stubborn, I easily compile. I walk into a room, say hi, as if to the entire room.

He raises an eyebrow, says hi.

I walk back into another room.

Have you ever heard collective eye rolling? When the eyeballs move in a circular motion out of so much annoyance that it’s audible.

“Oh please don’t be a plant lady who dies alone.” There’s a point when the tone of your friend’s voices go from joking to concern. That concern builds up enough to incite action on my behalf. That’s why I find myself engaging in one of the most awkward interactions on the plant— a setup.

 

Have you ever heard collective eye rolling? When the eyeballs move in a circular motion out of so much annoyance that it’s audible.

None of your stripy shirts, no sneakers, flats or Jesus sandals. Can you please not wear all black? And wear red lipstick, makeup and do your hair like you’re going out. Wear the two-toned heels from Zara.

“Geez, do you guys hate the way I dress?”

“Yes,” “On occasions,” “It’s just you should try more,” the trio replies.

“My plants don’t expect this much from me at all.”

“That’s your problem.” This is why I love my plants more.

Despite my pleas (But I’m so happy the way my life is! My plants are doing so well!), I have a plate of slow-cooked brisket, mixed vegetables, pasta salad and a heavy pour of bourbon in front of me on a Saturday evening. I’m at a dinner party, sans sneakers but with red lipstick. I wasn’t even allowed to put on my own makeup.

Sitting across from me is my friend’s mark. He’s tall, dark-haired and obviously smart. I forgot how to use my mouth to utter words in coherent sentences. I hadn’t said anything up until the point but a simple hi. It’s quite obvious that we’re being set up. So we turned to the person seated to the each of our respective lefts and start a conversation. The only problem is whenever everyone else is in on the plan, you suddenly have to talk to each other.

We talk about liquor. It’s a safe subject. And such a vast subject area so you don’t have to share any personal details with each other. Plus, we had endured a painfully long, very boozy cocktail hour.

A personal note, don’t make death jokes at dinner parties.

Our plates get cleared. It’s time for another drink, which he pours for me. Then we split like ions, tired of the cordial act of pretending we’re a pair.

Then dessert. I sit as far as possible but within eavesdropping distance. Hey, he might say something so clever that he reveals he is my hard-liquor loving, prince charming. I needed to hear what he was saying.

 

If I had been smart I would have had that conversation over dinner, rather than standing in my two-toned pointy heels that would cause even a nun to swear from pain.

As the evening winded down, people trickled out. Then it was just our hosts and us talking about whether rabbit meat was gamey or not, that the first My Big Fat Greek Wedding is way better, and how our parent would punishment us as children. He was a bad kid and I was smart enough never to get caught. We were working our way toward the door, but kept stopping. If I had been smart I would have had that conversation over dinner, rather than standing in my two-toned pointy heels that would cause even a nun to swear from pain.

We didn’t exchange numbers. I was fine with that. My friends promised me the entire exercise was just for practice—try a pony before getting back on the proverbial horse.