I had lunch yesterday with a former co-worker I’ve been friendly with for maybe six years.
This is a male friend – someone I’m delighted to catch up with over lunch a couple times a year, but not someone I go out with for girls’ night and spend the evening swapping fashion tips and ass pats.
We met at the door and exchanged the customary hug. One problem – the angle was off. You know those hugs where things don’t line up quite right and you end up with your faced squashed against someone’s shoulder?
Not usually a big deal. Unfortunately, I’d just applied a fresh coat of lipstick and my lunch companion was wearing a light colored dress shirt. As we headed off toward a table, all I could think was, “crap, did I just get lipstick on his shirt?”
By then, he was off and running with the conversation, so I settled for discretely trying to get a look at his right shoulder. Just my luck, he sat down at an angle that made it impossible to inspect him for makeup damage.
At this point, I probably should have said something, right? “Dude, I think I just smeared Créme Sable on you, here’s a Tide Stain Stick.”
But the moment never seemed to present itself. And I wasn’t really sure about the lipstick. Maybe I really didn't get it on him at all. If I could just get a look at—
“So the writing career is going well?”
“Oh, yes,” I replied, tearing my eyes off his shirt. “Very well. Just ten months until the release date. Um, look—”
“Would you excuse me a second?” he asked as he frowned down at his phone. “I have to take this call.”
I tried to get a look at his shirt as he stood up, but no luck. I was staring at my own phone when he returned, so I missed my chance then. We went back to chatting about his kids’ activities, and I was just working up the nerve to say something when I heard a commotion behind me.
I turned in my seat to look. “What is it?”
“Must be a kitchen fire,” he said. And since he’s technically the guy in charge of such incidents, he got up to deal with it.
By the end of lunch, I was exhausted from my covert efforts to look for lipstick, my thwarted efforts to address the issue head-on, and my fretting about the scene that could await him at home later.
“What did you do today, dear?” his wife might ask.
“Oh, I had lunch with an old friend.”
“I see,” she’ll say, folding her arms over her chest and narrowing her eyes at his shirt. “Was this a female friend?”
Sadly, I’ll never know. And since he was hopping on a plane last night for two weeks of travel– followed by the inevitable six-month gap that always occurs between our lunch dates – the odds are slim I’ll ever find out.
Have you ever been in a situation like that? You want to say something, but you’re not sure you should, and then when the opportunity presents itself things don’t quite work out? Feel free to share. Or feel free to tell me what I should have done differently. There’s always that.
By the way, there’s still time to weigh in on the “favorite place to be kissed” poll at the top right of this page. I’m pulling it down at 7 p.m. PST Thursday evening, and yes, it will all make sense tomorrow. Sort of.
Also, I was thrilled recently to be interviewed by Gabriela Lessa as part of a series for Women’s Fiction Month. She kicked off her interview series chatting with Jodi Picoult and concluded with me, interviewing a lot of other fabulous authors in between. That probably makes me sound way cooler than I am. Never mind, no it doesn’t. You guys know better. Anyway, go check it out here.