It's a small town, and it's bound to happen. But when you do finally bump into them, it's not like you can prepare for that sort of thing, especially if you're still smarting. I mean, you can have a general idea of how you want it to go-- no crying, no screaming, no resorting to physical violence; act with class and good manners, be a bigger person. But as for the minutia...no one ever manages to plan for the sudden shortness of breath, the shaking, or the feeling that due to the fact you are suddenly more aware of your massive heartbeats than you've ever been before, you're just going to keel over right now, into your Creme Caramel JavaKula, while an old tranny sits across the cafe in direct line-of-sight from you, meaning that he/she will be the last thing you ever see, and your headstone's epitaph will read: "Died before her time for her choice in men; but she had a glorious vagina."
No one, no one, not even decedents of Hitler or whoever invented Spam, deserves to go out that way.
So you end up reverting to some pretty (and petty) asinine behavior. Yesterday, while perfectly happy minding my New Yorker and coffee in Borders, I had one of those moments in life where something makes you look up just as someone else looks away from you. We both knew the other was there. And we both knew the other knew. But, instead of even looking up and waving through the window, I feigned massive ignorance and totally avoided doing anything altogether. It may have been a shitty move, and I realize this puts me back in the socially inept category of a 5 year old, but at the moment, I have no (civil) words, and my momma always told me if I don't have anything nice to say...
"At least," Alli pointed out, "you didn't pick up your magazine and block him with it as he walked out." Which I guess is true. It could have been worse.
But I'm glad to see I'm not alone in this. Later last night, while I was at Vermont Pub and Brewery, watching the Sox game and having dinner and a pint with Alli, she nudged me, and sotto-voice, said, "Look." I looked away from the screen, and immediately saw a wall of newspaper where the 20-something woman seated in front of us previously had been. Momentarily confused, I looked at Alli, wondering what about us the woman found so particularly offensive, then wondered if she was talking about us for some reason behind her improv screen, and then, as I was craning my head around, spotted exactly what made her go all Agent Undercover-- the waiter who was standing behind us. Despite her barricade, the waiter spotted her a few minutes later and went over, interrupting her and her new date, and through her forced, nervous, slightly-too-loud laughter and the "catch-up" chat, confirmed our suspicions. In an instant, empathetic moment, I got it. None of us-- none of us-- really know how to deal with this moment. This woman may have used the shielding technique that I maturely chose not to use in favor of the very classy "ostrich ignorance" maneuver (sarcasm is extremely heavy in that sentence, if you're not great on picking up on it), but from Burlington to Timbuktu, all of us are just freaking out alongside each other, and no one's mastered the art of acting gracefully under fire yet.
That's the problem with dating-- carnage.
So, I guess I'm sorry. Next time, I will actually acknowledge you and ask you how you are. But, if for some reason, I panic and you're met with a wall of newspaper or book cover instead, just know-- it's not just me.