Thursday, October 21, 2010

Getting lipstick on another man's shirt

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.

15 comments :

Shainer said...

I wonder which was more difficult explaining to his coworkers that he didn't just have a midday romp, or to his other half that it was just a friend. "No, really it was."

Linda G. said...

I was at a social gathering once when I noticed the very dignified older lady I was speaking with had a booger hanging halfway out of one nostril. I couldn't think of a way to bring it to her attention without embarrassing her (or me!), so I didn't say anything. Neither did anyone else (guess they were wusses, too).

Alaina said...

Ha, that is too funny...yeah, I would have definitely pulled that tide stick out, but hey, I'm sure it'll be forgotten eventually :-) After a fight and everything...

Great blog! Found you through Garbriela Lessa's blog...you have a new follower in me!

Danica Avet said...

Poor Tawna! Well, he might spend the entire flight wondering how he got lipstick on his collar and come up with some excuse that he was abducted by aliens...female aliens and can't remember it. At least, that sounds like something I'd think.

Stephanie said...

LOL! What a great story!!! I love reading your posts!! :)

Neurotic Workaholic said...

Hopefully he got a chance to look in the mirror and noticed the lipstick if it was there. I've been in similar situations, though. Often on the train I'll be sitting behind someone and I'll see a bug crawling on their shirt (which tells you something about the conditions of the CTA trains). I debate between telling them, not saying anything and letting the bug bite them, which, if it was poisonous, could result in them keeling over right there on the train, or trying to brush the bug off myself. But when I tried brushing it off myself, a couple people thought I was trying to rob them.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I find myself in that situation a lot. No, not the kiss on a friend's shirt, the wanting to say something but not knowing if I should. I usually end up saying nothing then. I'm not one for confrontation.

Rochelle Barlow said...

Being in these types of awkward situations is a constant thing in my life. I learn to embrace the sweat rings under my arms from worrying about it so much, the tripping over words thing, and all the zoned out stares I give as a funny part of daily life. I'm sure everyone just thinks I'm eccentric now, but really I'm just ridiculous.

Claire Dawn said...

I'm one of those people who swears by the truth. I always manage to work in the important stuff. And the unimportant stuff. And the stuff that noone has cared about since the last time there was an eclipse on February 29th.

I'm sure I've probably been in this situation at some point. I just can't remember it now.

Dr. Goose said...

Wore my sweater backwards and saw three clients in a row who didn't say a word. Damn them.

Nice interview Tawna. You sound like you know a few things.

Elizabeth-Flourish in Progress said...

Just stumbled onto your blog and I love it! Looking forward to reading more!

I've been the "other woman at home" a few times.

Ummm, honey, what's that on your shirt. Oh...lipstick? Oh...she's just a friend? Hmmm....

Thanks for giving a different perspective. =)

Matthew AT Banning said...

Well ... not quite like that ... more like the wrong thing to say!!!

This was grade eight, Social Studies to be exact. I was, as usual, sitting at the front of the class for my hearing aids. The teachers was going over review for an upcoming test. He asked the question;

"What are a group of travellers who journeyed to the Promise Land?"

I was the first one with my hand up. I knew the answer was "Pilgrims"!

So, much to my embarassment, I opened my mouth and out comes the word ...

"Prostitutes!"


The entire class laughed and the Teacher muttered something along the line of;

"I'm sure they have their own journeys as well ... Next?!"

Tawna Fenske said...

Shainer, aw hell, I didn't even think about the co-workers. Great. I probably still know a lot of them, too.

Linda G, I have an aunt who tells a story about sitting behind an older woman in church. The woman was wearing a fuzzy white sweater and my aunt noticed a long black hair resting on her shoulder, so she leaned forward to remove it. Turns out it was attached to the woman's chin.

Alaina, welcome! I loved Gabriela's interview. I had so much fun doing it!

Danica, good point, the aliens always make excellent scapegoats.

Stephanie, aw, thanks!

Neurotic Workaholic, so if the poisonous bug bites someone, you'll be responsible for their death?

Nicole, in hindsight I suppose I should have said something right away, but I kept thinking maybe I really didn't get lipstick on him so it was no big deal. Guess I'll never find out!

Rochelle, embrace your ridiculousness. It could result in a book deal.

Claire Dawn, some days I wish I could forget some of the silly things I've done.

Dr. Goose, that's hilarious! Was it a plain colored sweater, or something really obvious where you were wearing your stripes on the back?

Elizabeth, welcome! And see, there might be a perfectly reasonable (well, sort of reasonable) explanation for the lipstick!

Matthew, prostitutes? You had prostitutes on the brain? That's hilarious.

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

Liz Hayes said...

Several times I've been at restaurants with people who end up with very obvious chunks of food stuck in their teeth. If it's just the two of us, I usually have no problem mentioning it. But when it's a group situation, I hesitate to bring it up because I'm then drawing it to everyone's attention. And several times I've told them, they try to remove the food, it's still there and we end up having a prolonged scrutiny of this person's teeth.

On the other hand, several times I'll be talking to someone who keeps touching their face and I get paranoid that they are discreetly trying to tell me I've got something unenticing going on with my nose, mouth, etc. I'll then start touching my face, only to realize nothing was wrong, and they're still touching their face but wondering if I'm now mimicking them... It never ends well!

Gabriela Lessa said...

Impossible to make you sound cooler than you are, dear! Thanks for being a part of Women's Fiction Month! It was great having you!