Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pretending

Red Dress Club Writing Prompt
Imagine you are meeting someone for the first time. You want to tell them about yourself.

Instead of reciting a laundry list of what you do or where you're from, please give us a scene from your life that best illustrates your true self.

This is an exercise in showing, not telling. You need to show us why this particular moment defines you, or why you want someone to know this truth about you. Be descriptive without bogging us down in extraneous details.


Pretending

There is a wait at the restaurant which means the chances of us being seated next to the restroom are not good.

He puts our name on the list and the hostess hands us a buzzer.  "Twenty-five minutes," she says.

Twenty-five minutes of waiting.  Wondering.  Racing heart.  Knotted stomach.  Deep breaths.

But I make sure he doesn't notice.  I talk, a little too much.  I am witty.  I am funny.  I laugh at his jokes.  I touch his arm.

Our buzzer vibrates and we go to the hostess station.

"Right this way," she says and we follow.

I want to locate the restrooms on the way, but I focus on walking.  On not tripping.

We take our seats at a table in the center of the room.  Surrounded on all sides by people.

Exposed.

I look at him and smile.  "This is great," I say.

I look around the room, pretend to take in the space - the funky artwork, the Gothic chandeliers - when really I am trying to spot the restroom.

There it is.  All the way over there.

My stomach flutters.

"Can I get you something to drink?" our waitress asks.

I have given up soda for Lent and I don't drink water at restaurants.  The only option left is tea.

Tea makes me have to use the restroom.  Which is on the other side of the sea of people.

I glance down at the menu.  Tea is the only option.

I smile brightly.  "Sweet tea with lemon, please."

We order appetizers, dinner.

I talk, a little too much.  I am witty.  I am funny.  I laugh at his jokes.  I touch his arm.

My foot shakes under the table.

We talk sports, and politics, and world events.

I fiddle with my earring.

We talk about his stupid boss, my annoying co-workers.

He likes me.  I can tell.  A second date is a sure thing.

I finish my second glass of tea. I can't hold it any longer.  I stand up and place my napkin on the table.  My heart races.

"Be right back," I say.

I walk with my eyes down.  Run my hand over the back of my skirt to make sure it isn't caught in my underwear.

It's not.

I do it again just to be sure.

I steal glances trying to determine the path with the least amount of people.  The fewest eyes, watching.  The fewest lips, whispering.

I make it to the restroom and exhale.  I pee.  I smile at the girl at the sink.  I reapply my lipstick.  I don't look at myself in the mirror for too long.

The walk back to the table is easier even though the people are still there.  Watching.  Whispering.  I  keep my eyes down, but my heart returns to a steady thump...thump...thump.

"How about dessert?" I say when I sit down.

I smile brightly. To him it is no different than before, but to me it is.  It is one of relief.  Of triumph.

I survived.

I'm okay.

Until the next time.

21 comments:

  1. You are human.

    You describe first date jitters perfectly! We've all been there.

    Nicely done.

    Stopping by from TRDC. :)

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  2. Coming by via TRDC- He probably was just as nervous. You described the scene well.

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  3. Evocative description of a first date.
    I'm incredibly curious, though, why don't you drink water at restaurants?

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  4. I love the part where you check to see if the dress is caught and then you do it again just to be sure.

    Beautifully written.

    I don't drink water at restuarants either unless they bring me an unopened bottle of water. I have this fear that all of the employees are gathered around the employee bathroom sink and filling up the people's glasses and then they watch to see who drinks the water and just laugh. Yea I am so normal.

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  5. I related to this sooooo much! Amazing writing. I am so glad I found the red dress club, I enjoy reading blogs again! Yours is one of my favorites so far!

    I too check my skirt twice. You gotta be sure!

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  6. This seemed to be about something "more" than what your words revealed???

    Eating disorder? Perhaps I gathered wrong, but it seems like something more than just having to pee.

    Nevertheless, great story. Well written. Good use of visuals with a natural order that propels the reader to the end.

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  7. I would agree with Crayon Wrangler - I feel like there is more that you aren't telling us. However, that always makes for a great read. You've left me curious. Very detailed, well written post!

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  8. I'm such a sucker for turning a blade of grass into a galaxy. Good job, lady ;)

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  9. Denelle @CaitsConceptsMarch 8, 2011 at 12:44 PM

    I'm agreeing with the above comments in that there's something more.. seems a bit like social anxiety, especially where you're talking about how you have to walk past all those people watching and whispering (possibly about you!) on your way to the restroom. If so? I completely get that - I always avoid people's gazes when I'm out in public.. like I'm afraid of what reaction to me I might see in their eyes.

    Very well written!

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  10. This brought me back to all my first dates. I am kinda glad I don't have to do that anymore! Great writing!

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  11. wow. I really enjoyed this. I'm positive there is one detail you didn't give us which works, I think. it makes your story slightly mysterious. but you described the first date perfectly. I've so been there. :)

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  12. I agree with several of the other folks here that you seemed to be conquering something more than just first date jitters especially since you seemed confident of a second date and I wanted to keep reading to find out what it was.

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  13. First date but NOT the last...he saw the real you!...:)JP

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  14. I feel like I was at one of the tables near you in the restaurant, you brought the focus in so well.

    I also want to take take your hand and walk with you through that restaurant.

    Brilliant get-to-know-you.

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  15. Magnificent!

    I feel the same way in restaurants/public places...who's watching, what are they saying about me, what if I trip or slide on the greasy tiles (which I have!), do I have food on my face or in my teeth, did I sit in something at the booth that a sweet 2 year old left behind, do I look fatter than normal in this shirt, do I have toilet paper trailing behind me, etc...
    I felt like you were talking about me! Although I can't remember the last time I had an actual date!

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  16. Is this about a first date?
    It seemed almost the description of an anxiety attack. Perhaps brought on by the first date.
    Very well written. The feelings are open and out there.

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  17. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  18. This is third time i'm trying to comment so I'm a little grrrr. But also eeeeeeeeeeeee!!! Because, comments. Yea! Thank you everyone for commenting!! Comments = yea! I had something really eloquent and profound to say in my first attempt at commenting, but now? Not so much.

    This story was about my anxiety going pee at restaurants. Well, not peeing exactly, but walking across an entire restaurant of people to pee. Of course they are talking about me and laughing and judging.

    I have issues. Which is also why I don't drink water at restaurants, Dana. I pretty sure all water at restaurants comes from toilets.

    THANK YOU THANK YOU to all for commenting. You made my life. Things around here suddenly got nutsier than usual, so I haven't stopped by any blogs yet, but I'm on my way their now. Can't wait to read your stories!!

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  19. *SIgh* First date jitters! Love 'em and hate 'em all at once, right? I do the skirt check bit, too! :)

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  20. My mother had social anxiety disorder when I was growing up. If we couldn't get a seat near the bathroom, we would often have to skip eating out. And although she needed to know where the restroom was, and had to know she could easily get there in case there was an emergency, she HATED having to pee in there. And would often freak out about that as well. Needless to say, we didn't go out to eat a lot.

    I LOVE the repeat of the witty, laugh, touch the arm thing. That was what made me think it was more than the first date jitters.

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  21. I figured there was more to it than just having to pee! I think what would've helped make it clearer is a little more angst. A little more wondering if everyone was talking about you, if the toilets were clean - whatever the issue is.

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