Just Call Me Liz Lemon
What you are about to read is not an exaggeration. I did not change the details for dramatic effect- I didn’t need to, as you will see.
Last night, I went on a “first date.”
I felt proud of myself for :
a) convincing a guy that it was worth risking rejection to ask me to meet him at a coffee house
b) successfully navigating through an unfamiliar area of town to meet said guy
c) wearing 3 inch heels.
This last point turned out to be my undoing, as it so often does.
My date met me at the coffee house and arrived before I did, so I went to the barista to order my own drink. I ordered a sensible hot chocolate, and the black t-shirt wearing hipster served it to me in a brimming mug on a saucer. When I say brimming, I mean I should have taken a big gulp to better my odds of not spilling. This, my friends, is called foreshadowing.
I turned from the counter to face the rest of the coffee house. Imagine the local coffee house at your college or university: dim lighting, trendy metal chairs dispersed amongst worn sofas, mellow music playing overhead, intellectual Starbucks-hating types hunched over their Macs, lots of flannel and Chucks, and very crowded with exams just around the corner. Now imagine me: first date skirt, 3 inch heels, purse swinging from shoulder, hair sticking to my lip gloss, and trying to look very cool and alluring.
I started across the room at a slow pace, eyes flicking between the ominous tremors of my mug and the maze of backpacks and study groups. Right foot. Left foot. Mug check. Right foot. Left foot. Mug check.
My date stood to welcome me back to the table. Noting my nervous expression, he smiled and asked if I needed help. Already feeling empowered (and honestly a little miffed) about buying my own drink on a first date, I shook my head and told him I was fine. I squeezed between a scruffy co-ed leaning over a thick book and a table surrounded by computer cords, and this is the precise moment when time slowed.
Just 2 feet away from the table, I felt my purse start to slide down my shoulder. You know how they say that if you travel through time and accidentally step on a butterfly that you will change the course of history entirely? In a way, the purse acted as my butterfly– my 5 pound butterfly that would drastically change the distribution of the weight supported by my wrists.
Four things happened in a matter of milliseconds:
1) My date asked again, “Can I get that for you?”
2) I optimistically and proudly replied, “No, really, I’m fine.”
3) My adorable right shoe snagged a computer cord in an act of treason.
4) My purse slid all the way down my left arm and settled daringly on my left wrist.
Like a pin meeting a bowling ball for the first time, I crashed. I flew and I spectacularly crashed. This was no unfortunate spillage of hot chocolate down the front of a white shirt or accidental sloshing on the date’s sweater. This was a full bodied sitcom pratfall without the laugh track. I rushed forward, my knees hit the ground, my arms braced for the floor, and my face smacked against the cement.
I like to imagine my mug of hot chocolate suspended in mid air in a glorious flight to freedom. For a moment, it soared in victory and the liquid within looked dreamy as it gathered into globs. Then, like the climax of a mob movie when the protagonist opens fire on his enemies in slow motion to the soundtrack of an opera, the hot chocolate sprayed everywhere in a rain of indiscriminate fire. The saucer shot across the room like a Frisbee.
I laid on the floor and wished I would wake up. Around me, chocolate coated the floor at least 3 feet around me like blood after a massacre. My now empty mug lolled from side to side on the ground in front of me, still reeling from the force of the impact. An actual hush fell over the once buzzing coffee house.
I rocked back on my knees and pulled myself up, raising my hands above my head as if in surrender. “I’m okay!” I shouted to the near silent room.
Around me, a few patrons laughed quietly, but mostly people started whispering. In the movies, people always laugh when you fall and pop back again and shout that you are okay. In real life, they feel sorry for you.
I finally made it to my feet to survey the damage, and my date looked at me with palpable horror. “Are you okay?” he asked.
“Yes, yes, I’m fine.”
So far on this date, I have lied twice– both times by telling my date I am fine when I am actually not.
I continued to stand there staring at the streaks of chocolate on my arm, unable to comprehend that my drink was gone for good and beginning to feel some wet spots on the knees of my tights that could easily be chocolate or actual blood. My date also continued to stand there with his eyes darting from the crime scene on the floor, to my empty mug, to my splattered coat, and then around the room at the still aghast college students.
One of the baristas, a guy with dreads down to his waist, appeared out of no where with a towel. He handed it to me as if handing a security blanket to a squalling child and gently said, “Here, honey. You can clean yourself up with this. I’ll take care of the rest of this mess. Just go find some where else to sit. It’s okay.”
My date pointed to an empty table a few feet away and handed me my shoes. Some how, my traitorous shoes came off during the ordeal. I don’t where they flew, who they hit, or how he recovered them. I accepted them and turned to the new table and dropped into a chair like bird shot out of the sky.
“Wow,” my date said, “I feel so bad.”
Um, not as bad as I do.
“No, really,” I told him, “I’m fine. It’s really okay. I’m just a little rattled.”
The first barista that originally made my drink approached our table and handed me a new one.
“Bless you,” I said to him as I reached for my new weapon of destruction.
“Hey, I’m not one to judge,” he replied, which I think is sort of a cryptic thing to say when someone accidentally spills her hot chocolate. Did he think I was drunk?
He walked away and I looked back at my date. Around the room, conversation returned to normal and the dread locked barista wheeled out a mop and a bucket and started to remove the evidence of my disgrace.
“So,” I blew on the surface of my beverage, “How was your day?”
As he started to answer, I reached up to tuck my hair behind my ear. And, you guys, there was hot chocolate in my hair. Hot Chocolate. In. My. Hair.
I managed to make it through the rest of the evening without incident, though my date dropped the lid to his tea pot on the floor and said, “Ha, now we’re even!”
We’ll be even, I thought, when you shatter your tea pot on the floor and have to pick out the shards of glass from your bruised ego.
The night ended and I went home to pick up my dog from a friend’s house. I walked in the door and she looked at me with an odd expression, “What’s that on your face?”
I knelt down to greet my excited schnauzer and she happily licked the hot chocolate off my forehead for me.
For those of you following my relationship lessons, here’s the latest version:
Lesson 1: If you see red flags, pay attention. If you see red flashing lights, turn around. If you see both, start throwing holy water.
Lesson 2: If you start off being not that into him, you’re probably not gonna be two months later.
Lesson 3: Consider carefully before giving out a phone number because you CAN NEVER take that sucker back and AT&T will not allow you to block numbers on your cell phone.
Lesson 4: When your date offers to carry a drink/food/something that could create a massive mess if it is dropped, swallow your proud and let him.
Posted on November 20, 2008, in Real Life, Relationships and tagged hot chocolate, personal essay, Relationships. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.
That’s…. prolific and horrific.
No worse injuries than the stains and your pride?
Have the shoes been properly punished?
Eh, my knees are banged up and my coat needs dry cleaning, but my pride is mostly intact. It really could have been much, much worse.
The shoes, like a spoiled child, are too cute to be punished.
After all that, please don’t tell me there’s a second date. Because that’s what Liz Lemon would really do.
You mean she would go on the second date? Or she would not?
Oh, sorry: I mean she *would* go on the second date, cf. Dennis Duffy.
Well, I meant to leave the poor boy out of this because he really was very nice about the hot chocolate shower I gave him. But that said… I don’t think so, for reasons unrelated to my graceful moment. If that makes me less like Liz Lemon, then so be it.
Oh, M, only you could both live this and write it with complete dignity. Fantastic.
Except no — but yes 😉
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