“There’s a first time for everything,” so the cliched quote says. I’m not sure that I completely agree with that saying. After all, do we really experience EVERYTHING in our lifetime? But yes, over the course of one’s life, “firsts” do occur - the first time you ride a bike, your first day of school, a first date, your first kiss, the first time you have sex, the first time you buy a house... you get the point. Your list of firsts are usually memorable, but not necessarily positive. This weekend, as I’m nearing the halfway point of my life (statistically speaking), I experienced a first. And it’s the kind of story I can’t make up...
My weekend started with an upscale wine tasting at my home that turned into one of those fabled nights that Fitzgerald might write about if he and Gatsby were still alive. The group was small, but the fun was flowing in abundance. There were copious amounts of homemade Italian food; bottles of bubbly, pinot, and cabernet; cigars made of the finest tobacco and smoked around an elegant fire pit; storytelling by people who live interesting and extraordinary lives; plenty of laughing; and of course, a great playlist of music! Unquestionably, all of these things combined were going to result in a collection of headaches for each partygoers the next morning. When the sun pushed through my window shades, I felt like my body was hit by a semi-truck after pulling an all-nighter. But when I awoke, I knew that I needed to improve my lifeless condition. I had an important evening ahead of of me. At seven-thirty that night, I had a date scheduled with an interesting and enjoyable man at one of my favorite restaurants in town. I needed a quick recipe to refresh my tired body. And so I served myself a steady pour of ice cold water over the next several hours.
By five o’clock, I was feeling more like myself. It’s amazing what a good shower, bronzer, and lipgloss can do for a girl! I put on my diamonds and pearls, and dressed myself in a figure-flattering black cocktail dress. The plan was to meet my date at the restaurant. And even though my day started sluggish, I was looking forward to the night ahead after a series of thoughtful messages from my soon-to-be dinner companion. He was excited to see me too, according to the multiple text messages that I received. I took one final look in the mirror after I prepared myself for the night ahead, and headed out the door. I was running about ten minutes late (as usual), so I sent him a text message with my projected arrival time. He didn’t respond, but I knew that he would be waiting for me at the bar. When I arrived, I checked in with the hostess and scanned the room for my date. It appeared that I arrived first. No worries, I thought. So I headed to the bar and ordered myself an ice water (I figured one more round of hydrating wouldn’t hurt). While I sat waiting at the end of the bar, 5 minutes passed, then 10, then 20. It seemed strange to me that he was late, but I was able to pass the time chatting with the staff. After 30 minutes passed, I checked my phone again. Still no word from my date. I decided to call him. His phone went straight to voice mail. I wondered if we were trying to call each other at the same time, so I called again. It went straight to voice mail a second time. I waited another 15 minutes, but by this time, almost an hour passed since our scheduled dinner reservation. I was starting to feel abandoned and foolish while sitting alone. And so I called the one person who always gives me the best advice during difficult moments - my sister, Kathleen. She knew I had a date that night and was looking forward to it. The conversation went something like this:
Me: “Hey, I’m sitting at the restaurant. He was supposed to be here an hour ago. This place is packed. What should I do? I tried to call him - no answer. And it went straight to voice mail.”
My sister: “Do you think he blocked your number?”
Me: “I don’t think so. That would be weird. He’s been texting me all day about how excited he was to see me.”
My sister: “Do you think there’s something wrong with him?”
Me: “Like in the head?”
My sister: “No. Do you think something bad happened to him. Maybe he got into an accident?”
Me: “I really do think something is wrong. I don’t think he would stand me up on purpose. Should I just leave?”
My sister: “He’s obviously not coming. So yes, you should leave. But do you know where he lives? Can you call someone to check in on him? I’m kind of worried too.”
Me: “I don’t know where he lives. But we do have one friend in common. I could call him, but I don’t really want to.”
My sister and I wrapped up our phone conversation. I called my date back and left him a message saying that I was genuinely worried and hoped he was okay. I left the restaurant and planned to drive home. After all, as much as I tried to cover it up, I still wasn’t feeling great from the night before. My sweats, a grilled cheese sandwich, and a bottle of water sounded like a good Plan B. But the mystery of my missing date was weighing on my conscience. Yes, I sat alone in my flirty version of the Audrey Hepburn-look for an hour. But I was still worried that my date was in a ditch or dead somewhere. Even though I was feeling slightly humiliated, I decided to make a phone call to our mutual friend. I hoped he might be able to help. I hesitantly dialed the number and slightly cringed while the phone rang. I felt embarrassed to admit that I was potentially stood up. But I was also concerned about this man’s well-being. Our mutual friend (who happens to be one of my longtime friends) answered. I explained to him what happened and wondered if he might be able to check on my missing (and possibly dead) date. I honestly wasn’t expecting the response I received.
My friend loudly replied, “YOU were the person he was meeting? He wouldn’t tell me WHO his date was, but he’s been talking about it for days. I’m looking at him right now. He’s passed out in a cabana at The Velvet Dog.”
And there it was...
I was just stood up for the first time. It was a bona fide no-show. And obviously the text messages I was receiving all day were drunk texts from a grown man who couldn’t say no to the bottle when he had plans with a respectable woman later that night. Even though I didn’t do anything wrong, I immediately felt like a loser who was ditched by a guy who didn’t deserve two seconds of my time.
My friend on the phone invited me to meet him out at another upscale restaurant in town. After feeling rejected and still tired from the night before, I just wanted to go home. But I looked down at the high heels and pretty black dress that I was wearing, and decided that I should try to salvage a bad night with a good friend.
I called my sister again and explained the conclusion of the story. After I gave her a quick play-by-play, I said, “I’m at a loss. I shower every day and bath every night, do I smell and just don’t know it? Is there something wrong with me?” To which she replied, “There’s nothing wrong with you! There’s something wrong with him! He’s a forty-three-year-old man who passed out in a cabana in the middle of the day when he was supposed to meet a beautiful, smart, and classy woman. He did you a favor. You have nothing invested in him. He saved you from wasting your time.”
My sister was right. I found clarity in her statement. I was just disappointed that I spent an hour of my time waiting for someone who cared more about a bottle of vodka than an evening with me. I met my friend, and a few other familiar faces at a downtown restaurant. They did their best to cheer me up and change the tone of the night. An hour passed and suddenly, the look on my friend’s face turned from happiness to concern. He mumbled something to me with wide eyes while looking over my shoulders. We had another visitor. It was him, the no-show. Except now, at this place, in this moment, he showed up. He was clearly drunk and said nothing. He sat across from me at the bar and just stared at me - for an hour. Which was just about the amount of time that I wasted while waiting on him. And now here he was, wasting his time staring at me. I left the restaurant and called it a night. An unfortunate night. A night worth forgetting.
I was stood up for the first time. It was a bit humiliating. But that feeling passed once I realized that it was almost comical. The important takeaway here is what lies at the epicenter of this story. So often when we’re rejected by someone, (or in this case, left sitting alone) we say, “What’s wrong with me? What did I do wrong?” The answer is almost always, nothing! You haven’t done anything wrong. If you’re disrespected, left stranded and alone, or treated unkindly, it’s not your fault. You don’t smell, or have bad breath. You’re not ugly, or not fashionable enough. You’re not too young, or too old. You were just simply a victim of someone else’s issues. Try not to sweat it too much. You can’t change them. And you don’t want a project. They may have disrespected you once. But you have control over whether or not they get to do it again. You have more control over your storyline than you probably give yourself credit for. An old friend of mine said it best without mincing words... “Don’t be afraid to tell someone to get the fuck out of your theater!”
I did hear from the passed out cabana boy the next day. He took the easy way out - a one line apology via text message. A phone call would’ve taken more balls. But I suppose it wouldn’t matter either way. He blew it. And no words spoken could change that fact. It’s too bad. I run a top-notch theater! But I guess someone like that isn’t interested in my kinda fairytale.