Wednesday, February 27, 2008

fish in a barrel

I used to think there was nothing more embarrassing than being out with a male friend... (who you may just happen to have a bit of a crush on)... and having someone mistake the two of you as a couple. A married couple.

Once upon a time, P and I went to get some dinner and see a movie. After the movie, he wanted to stop at a nearby music store and get some guitar picks. We ended up hanging out for quite a while, looking at the instruments and watching the Dave Matthews Central Park DVD that the clerk had playing. A couple hours later, when we went to check out, the clerk said to P, "You spent a lot of time with those guitars - your wife must be bored out of her mind." He went right on ringing up the packages of picks while my heart stopped and I nearly died, right there on the dirty, guitar-string laden floor.

Neither P nor I said anything for a minute - he was probably just as stunned as I was - and the clerk handed him the bag. "You two have a nice night, now... take your wife some place special." I found my voice before P could.

"I'm not his wife... he's not my husband... we're not married," I stammered, my cheeks beginning to burn. P laughed awkwardly - "We're just friends," he said.

"Oh, I'm sorry - I saw the ring on her finger and just assumed. You make a nice couple anyway, for what it's worth."

P and I smiled politely, walked quickly to the parking lot, and got in his truck without a word. Once I was buckled in, I glanced down at my left hand - my grandmother's ring. Dammit. I had forgotten that I had begun wearing it on that hand once the chain that I used to wear around my neck broke. It only fit my ring finger on my left hand.

"That was weird, huh?" he asked. I laughed. "Yeah... what a strange guy." P turned up the music, and we drove home, the comfortable silence that was our friendship slowly settling back in around us, filling the cab and the gaps between us.

I don't even know if he remembers that night. For a long time, my embarrassment continued, and I wondered if P resented me for it at all. He knew about those feelings I used to have for him, and the whole situation in the music store sort of felt like fate rubbing it in my face that I'd never have what I had wanted so badly at the time. I used to think there was nothing more awkward than that.

Until last weekend.

I met my dad in Hammond so he could help me get some new tires for my car. We walked into the store, and I instantly felt high from the smell of rubber. The foul-mouthed man behind the counter talked to my dad, and I stood next to him silently. Finally the clerk seemed to realize there was a woman present in the room full of tough car men and said, "Excuse my language, hon." I smiled politely. Then he said to my dad: "I hope these tires aren't a Valentine's Day present! That's an easy way to find yourself in the doghouse," and he winked at me. In the back of my mind, I knew what he was insinuating, but I'm blaming my silence on the tire fumes. My dad started to make his way outside, and the clerk yelled to him, "I'll just give the change to your wife here."

"Daughter," I said, dejectedly. Immediately I began silently reassuring myself that all the comment meant was that my dad looks young for his age... not that I look old for mine.

"Oh! Sorry." He laughed, my dad laughed, I laughed - but I'm sure I was the only one who was faking it. "She's not my wife... I'm 50 years old," my dad said as he opened the door. Mortified, I followed him out, where we joked about it for the duration of his cigarette. As soon as we walked back inside, the clerk handed me the keys, said they'd pushed my car to the front of the line and everything was ready to go.

"I'm really sorry if I embarrassed you, sweetie," he said to me with a wink. To my dad, he said, "Sir, you really just don't look 50!"

My dad had a grand time telling the story to my mom when we got back to their house, and I'm glad at least someone got some enjoyment out of the situation. On my way home that night, I bought my very first jar of anti-wrinkle cream. I told my dad I can't be seen alone with him in public for another 4-6 weeks. He seemed okay with it.


Becky said...

Dude, dude, dude.

Once after the auto show, my dad and I were wandering around China Town, where I decided I needed a shirt. So I dragged him into a clothing shop to try them on, and while I was being helped by the little old lady, she winks and says, "Ooooh, something special for your boyfriend?"

At the time, I was 18, AND my dad and I look very much alike.

Ew's all around, yo.

Oh, and every time I go out with my brother (who ALSO looks like me), we get complimented WITH EVERY STEP WE TAKE that we make a gorgeous couple.

Ew. Ew. Ew.

Alicia said...

I can top that.
Once my husband (who is 2 years younger than I) were at the Buckle buying jeans for him. While he was trying some on, the clerk came up to me with another pair of jeans and said: I was thinking, maybe your son would like these too.
I look at her and said: My husband. He's my husband.

He still thinks the story is hilarious. I still don't see what's so funny about it.

becky said...

Becky - LOL The only thing worse than that happening at 25 is it happening at 18. How embarrassing! Did he at least buy your shirt for you? Seems like the least he could do ;) Sidenote to the story about your brother... did you ever read the "Flowers in the Attic" series of trash books when you were younger? When you mentioned how you look alike, it made me think of them. If you've not read... you may not want to.

Alicia - Oh my. That truly is awful. I hope you have an awesome punishment to use against him every time he brings it up! (Because I'm sure he does.)

KC said...

I think it probably was a function of your Dad looking young. Just think how much it must have made his day!

Those situations are always so awkward, though.

Scott Booker said...

Had to stay in a hotel room once with just my Mom. Went to the room and only had 1 bed. Went back down by myself since she was with the luggage and asked for two beds. The guy at the desk asked me if me and wife had had a fight or something. AUGH!!!

KiKi said...

Maybe the guy just thought your dad had a really young wife. You watch tv - don't you just love the viagra and other ED commercials where the guy is like 100 and the woman's like, 19?

Frema said...

Oh. My. God. Once I read "I met my dad in Hammond," I totally knew where this story was going.

Pervy car guy.