Saturday night I joined my future ex-sister-in-law (Fesil), future ex-wife (Few) and some friends of Fesil’s for the concluding birthday dinner celebrating Fesil’s 50th birthday. The plan after dinner was to go see a comedy show that was being emceed by the husband of Fesil’s friend, both of whom were attending dinner. While Fesil’s large party last week was awesome, the dinner turned sour for me and I skipped the show.
The irony is that I had been looking forward to this more than the party, and I had hired a babysitter in anticipation of having a rare adult late night out. My early warning that things might not go so well was when I had serious trouble deciding what to wear. Like, an hour of struggling to put together an outfit.
I wanted to dress up a bit, but it was so cold I didn’t want to go with a skirt, which tipped me into jeans and a top territory. The problem I discovered is that the nicer tops I have pair with nicer pants, not jeans, and the nicer pants I have didn’t go with those tops. Running out of time, I compromised with a lavender top I really like paired with a matching scarf to help disguise the neckline, which was lower than I was feeling comfortable with.
Throwing on my makeup and rushing my hair, I felt harried and a bit out of sorts. I looked okay, but it wasn’t where I wanted to be. Fesil was dressed down a bit when I picked her up, and I breathed a mental sigh of relief that I was at least in that zone. The other couple and single friend of Fesil’s was already at the restaurant when we arrived, and it felt like an awkward greeting, probably because I was feeling awkward.
Few arrived, and then the emcee couple. Few was polite to me when she arrived, but didn’t look happy to see me, and the emcee couple repeated some of the awkwardness of before. Dinner was small talk with the emcee trying a few jokes out on the table interspersed. Few went through three martinis on top of whatever she’d already had and studiously tried to avoid talking to me as much as possible.
The emcees wife and I chatted and as we were leaving to head to the show she complimented me on the color I was wearing, and it took me unawares. I struggled for a response, and managed a, ‘Thank you,’ right before she said, ‘You already know that, don’t you?’
Me being me, I couldn’t discern if she was teasing or being snarky, and my brain froze. More people joined us on the sidewalk, she turned to walk with Few, complimented her, Few graciously took it and returned one, and the moment passed, leaving me standing alone on the sidewalk feeling foolish and lame.
I tagged along with the group by myself and realized I didn’t want to be there any more because I felt out of place. Arriving at the venue I couldn’t face going in, told Few I was leaving, and dropped my ticket at the box office.
On my way back to my car, Fesil saw me and asked where I was going and I told her that I was uncomfortable and just didn’t belong there that night. She gave me a hug and a peck, told me she loved me and I left.
Sitting in my car, I felt miserable; like I had failed some sort of test and was rejected because of it. I still had four hours before I had to relieve the babysitter and considered going out, but couldn’t think of anything to do besides going to a bar because I’d missed the movie showtime window.
In the mood I was in, I knew drinking would be a bad thing, so I drove around for a while before ending up in a school parking lot. Whereupon I had a total breakdown and cried my eyes out.
My friend Julia saw my sad Tweets and responded to my texts with a phone call and we talked for a couple of hours. She cheered me up immensely, telling me stories of the characters she encounters in her job, and had me laughing for at least an hour.
Which was Exactly. What. I. Needed. Thank you, Julia, you’re the best!
Upon reflection, I think I know what went wrong with the evening for me.
Few was there and being out with her socially in small groups is just not a good idea with our history. Fesil’s loyalties lie with her sister’s, and while she’s been mostly supportive to me, blood is thicker than water and it shows at times. While I’m friends with and friendly with all the other people that were there, they’re not close friends and are really Fesil’s friends.
It didn’t help that a couple at the next table over kept staring at me. Another layer is that I conflated tolerance and acceptance with a genuine desire to have me there, and I think I’ve realized I was invited out of politeness.
Add it all together, and the mixture of feelings on both sides of the table between me and Few plus not being part of the close friend group means it’s no wonder I felt out of place. Or at least that’s how I’ve rationalized it.
Hopefully I’ve learned my lesson.