HOW NOT TO MEET SOMEONE FOR THE FIRST TIME
It’s all my daughter’s fault.
Today she had lunch with an executive director of a large charity—a woman whose life will soon be videoed by Tracy’s company, Video Resources.
As the luncheon finished, Tracy called me. “Vivien is a dynamo. She’s only four feet tall, but she’s full of energy. She’s been writing for years and wants someone to critique her book. I told her she should meet you. If it’s okay, I’ll lead her to your house. We’re not far away.”
“Okay,” I said, wondering if not far away gave me time to jump in the shower and get properly dressed. I took the chance—imagining Tracy would pause long enough to stand with Vivien at our front door.
She didn’t. And sadly, I was off in my estimate by five minutes. The doorbell rang before I’d put on my shoes or combed my hair. It got worse from there. When I finally opened the door, Vivien—an elegant but very tiny lady--was alone.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I wasn’t dressed.” Already embarrassed, I suddenly decided to seat her in our living room. Who knew where Rob was, or what semi-dressed state he was in?
She sat down at one end of our sofa, so I chose the nearby, expensively antique wooden chair. Maybe I sat down hard, but I don’t think so. In any case, the second my rear came in contact with the seat, the chair collapsed. It didn’t just sink to the ground, it came apart. Completely. Various pieces of wood went their own ways, some leaning against my hips, so I found myself down in a valley of wooden legs and foot rests, all forming a kind of cage.
“Oh, oh,” the lady said, “Oh, my, are you all right?” I could feel her discomfort and concern.
“Well . . . I think so,” I said, feeling less injured than mortified. With no idea how to extricate myself from this sudden mess, I flailed about. Then adrenaline came to my rescue, because I managed, finally, to rise. Staring down at what was now a heap of lumber with a seat vaguely attached, I wondered what to do with it. While she waited, I dragged the pieces away from our shocked eyes and into the front hall.
She moved over on the couch, and I sat with her. We began talking about books and writing. And that’s when I noticed further destruction. Compounding my infamous descent to the floor, I saw that the cat had partially dismembered our two beautiful couches. Small puffs of white lay on the floor, and more white stuffing billowed out around the arms, and beneath them you could see he’d sharpened his claws right down to the wooden frame.
“Oh,” I said, “I can’t believe what our cat has done. I haven’t been in here in awhile.” I didn’t tell her our kitty was dying, now within a day of never moving again. She’d had plenty of shocks for one day.
We discussed the impossibility of her traveling great distances at the worst traffic hour to take my class, and instead settled arbitrarily on my giving private Saturday workshops closer to her home. My reddened face never quite cooled off as I tried, feebly, to get her excited about an alternative to my privately reading her entire book.
As she stood to leave, she began raving about how much she’d enjoyed meeting Tracy. She’ll never say the same about me. I’d done nothing but shower her with apologies. Whatever impression she is now conveying to others, of one thing I’m sure. No matter how much time goes by, that small but dynamic lady will never forget me.