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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

(Not) Meeting In The Middle

A friend and co-worker, M, stopped by my office today. He always dresses well but looked especially dapper today. His accessories really caught my eye.

“I like that,” I said, pointing to the patterned, pale orange tie that stood out in a good way against the medium blue shirt he wore.

M fingered the tie, gave it a little toss and said, “Really? This was picked out for me, like most of what I wear.”

He explained that he used to choose his own clothes.  M thought he did a pretty good job at it, too, until first a woman he dated, and then the woman he later married, each informed him otherwise.

M embraced this sartorial feedback, as many men do.  They see it as helpful counsel from a loved one who has their best interests at heart. Others, by contrast, take it as personal affront should you happen to observe, neutrally, that the height of their waistband had gotten stuck somewhere around 1992 levels and perhaps should be lowered. (I never would have married anyone who reacted that way but I hear it happens. Ahem.)

While discussions about fashion with a mate can be tough, M and I agreed that dressing for a first date is harder. Initial impressions matter, so you want to look good. But looking too good can set the appearance bar so high you’ll need a pole to vault over it.

The key is to strike a balance. On the spectrum of done-uppedness, you want to land somewhere in between “state dinner” and “pig sloppin’.”

M and his wife met at a wedding. She looked perfect, he told me. And she must have recognized the danger because she answered the door for their second date in sweats, a ponytail, and no makeup. In short, she walked up to the bar and knocked it right off. Once it hit the mat, she was free to pick it up and replace it at a consistently attainable notch in the middle.

In getting ready for tonight I tried to start at the middle. I auditioned a few candidates for the first date attire role and picked a brown and white-flecked sweater dress.  It projected confidence in its ability to segue smoothly from office to outing.

I dedicated a little extra time in styling The Mane.  The result looked better than usual but not so good that anyone would suspect salon involvement.

For makeup, I didn’t deviate from my standard “five minute face” rule, which allows me that amount of time, total, to complete whatever cosmetic assault I plan to launch.

More time than that wouldn’t have helped me today, anyway. Thirty hours after the gum graft, the left side of my face looked better—like I was storing only four acorns instead of five--but still not quite normal. It didn’t bother me. I figured a date's reaction to that, and the fact that I’m on the Sunrise Assisting Living Diet, would tell me a lot.

I never got to find out. My date canceled at 5:30. He’s sick and didn’t think that was an ideal state for a first meeting. He’s right. It’s much better to show up with one puffy cheek and Frankengums.


  1. Oh, dammit! I was so into the story, waiting to see what happened... BUMMER! Did he reschedule, at least??

    1. He did! Take II is scheduled for Sunday evening, creating the possibility--however slim--that I might not show up drooling!

  2. I'm relieved he cancelled. I was really happy to stay in tonight.

    1. I didn't mind, either, except that on most days the five minute face rule leaves me at least 3 minutes to spare but I took the entire time yesterday. An unappreciated first in the annals of my beauty regimen.

    2. Well that's 3 minutes we'll never get back.


    3. There's only one solution: dock it from Sunday's prep time.

  3. I'm glad he rescheduled! Also a bonus that you won't be drooling, although your thoughts on dropping the bar onto the mat where hysterical!
    So funny.
    Funny AND smart!

    1. Thanks, Dawn! I often start at the mat. Less heavy lifting, I find. :)