Missed Connections

Every year, Matt and I host a party in honor of the NCAA tournament. It’s one of our favorite nights of the year, and Saturday’s extravaganza was no exception (despite the fact that West Virginia lost, which booted my bracket out of the running in my office pool). The best part of the weekend was that Jill, one my best friends from high school, came in town from New York. Everything’s more fun with an old friend, and Jill’s uber-supportive of my quest to find a new BFF. She’s also pretty supportive of my shopping habits, so I wasn’t surprised to find myself in J. Crew, and then Club Monaco, in search of the perfect hostess-with-the-mostess outfit.

While I was waiting in line to buy a shirt that may or may not have made me look like the Hamburglar, the woman in front of me complimented my curls and asked about my products of choice. If there’s one topic strangers talk to me about most, it’s my hair. I spent the majority of my life wearing my frizzy mop in a ponytail or half-up, but on my 24th birthday I found a curly hair specialty salon that taught me how to finally keep the corkscrews under control. Life changing.

So I told the register woman about Devachan, she told me that her seemingly straight hair is actually a mess of curls she blow dries straight every day, and I told her that the products I swear by (Devachan’s OneCondition and Set it Free) can be purchased at Ulta.

That was the entire exchange. But considering that she was chatty and I could talk about curl control all day, she had friend potential. I racked my brain for a sentence that would elevate our relationship.  “I could show you a thing or two about curls,” sounds like some sick come-on from a B-movie. “Wanna come to my party???” makes me think of a 5-year-old blindly extending invitations to a clown-and-pony birthday show. I went with, “They have a green and white label. Look out for them.” She left. I totally botched it. Damn.

Two seconds later, the guy working the cash register asked me if I had any plans for the weekend. I said I was throwing a party. “What kind of party?”

“Oh, it’s a beer pong tournament.”

It’s true. Once a year we throw a college throwback fiesta (though the grown-up reincarnation involves protecting newly-painted walls and pregnant women playing with water). This fascinated Mr. Club Monaco. He asked my team name (“The Situation”) and how many teams there would be (about 15). He wished me luck in the big game; I accepted his good wishes. Only after I was halfway to the door did I realize that I’d had the perfect opening to extend an invitation. The second missed opportunity in a 5-minute span.

Jill says I need to work on closing the deal. She’s right, but how? Is there anything, for real, that I could have said to Curl Lady that wouldn’t have made me seem psycho? Or desperate? How could I have asked her out? And should I have extended an invitation to Mr. Club Monaco? Or is inviting a perfect stranger into your living room for drinking games the first stop on the crazy train?

19 Comments

Filed under The Search

19 responses to “Missed Connections

  1. This is too funny (and as a wavy-haired gal I am always keen on curl advice!). I don’t really have any insightful advice on closing the deal, but here’s a wee thought for whatever it’s worth:

    It’s wise to treat small exchanges as potential friend opportunities, but don’t scold yourself for what might feel like missed chances. Was the curl woman so terrific that a week from now you’ll still be wishing you had made a non-creepy move? Hopefully not. Was your gut telling you that Mr. Club Monaco was true BFF material, or did you just panic at the momentary lack of closure?

    You should be applauded for keeping your eyes and mind open (really, you should be applauded and then offered a slice of cake!), but don’t be too hard on yourself, either. The BFF hunt is tricky, and a few fish are bound to get away.

    Or something like that.

    • Thanks Julie! Maybe you’re right. Every time someone iniates conversation with me, internal sirens start sounding with “POTENTIAL BFF ALERT!” I need to ease up. Perhaps I just need to focus on starting my own chats with curly-haired folks in checkout lines….

  2. Naz

    I think this is similar to a dating situation where a simple “hello my name is… “is so much better than “baby your legs must be tired…”
    I think a follow up, “by the way my name is Rachel” would have been a good way to open the conversation. Personally, I am chicken shit in dating and friend making. I can’t walk up to strangers, I like being set up. Maybe we need to set you up with friends. My dad set me up with my best friend in the 5th grade. He went up to her dad, introduced himself and said our daughters should be friends and she has been my best friend ever since.
    Sorry I missed the party, sounds like good times.🙂

  3. Ana

    I agree with the comments above. I know you are consciously (sp?) trying to take advantage of all potential friend opportunities, but not everyone is really going to haunt you as “the one that got away”.

    I am hoping you come up with a good transition from casual small-talk with a stranger…try out a few “lines” and report back to us!

  4. Cathy

    For your curly-haired compatriot, you could have told her your name and offered to email her the information about the hair care products you like. It would be easy for her to find an excuse to not share her address if she wanted no further contact. If you do email her and get a response, you have a better opening for meeting again. (Maybe arrange to go to the salon together?) You can try again by going back to the store (same day, shift time) to see whether she is there again. Love this blog, by the way!

    • Hi Cathy,

      I love that — it’s exactly what I should have done. A simple, “I could email you the product info” would have been a good start. And email is such a comfy, safe space for building a friendship before the face-to-faceness starts.. Thanks!

  5. hb

    I agree that you could have told the curly-haired girl that you would email her. Or you could give her your email and she can decide if she wants to contact you or not. I think you should get cards with your name, email and cell phone number so you can say “Here’s my email address, send me a note and I’ll write you back with all the info.” That way it’s less creepy and she can make the next move if she wants.
    Also, it’s very handy to have your contact info printed on cards so you aren’t always fumbling for a pen and a scrap of paper when you meet someone.

  6. I would be hesitant inviting a stranger into my home…even if they have fabulous curly hair. I moved to El Paso three years ago from Houston. I started going to wine dinners around town and met a woman who invited me to join her book group. I also started volunteering a little bit. I attended a Polo for Aids event with my hair stylist…and now one of my best friends…Mrs. El Paso no less, was one of the chicks sitting at our table. I’ve found that this is where most of my friends have come from. I also reached out to my neighbors…which we had not done in Houston.

  7. I have no idea how to become a “closer.” That seems like the hardest part of your quest. Unless you want to go balls to the walls and let it all out there (i.e. tell them about the quest), but that might make you look crazy. 😉

  8. Janet

    ask michael douglas if striking up a convo with a stranger in a bar (and then the ensuing “activities”) wasn’t perhaps the most regrettable decision of his life. btw…..this was obv a movie🙂

  9. Ooooh. I’ve missed stopping by this neck of the bloggy woods. (Life of late has been positively nutso and there has been zero bloggy window shoppin’.) I love this little story. This little slice. This little bit of clumsy and delicious conversation, of longing for connection. This is fabulous. And the beer pong throwback? Genius. Pure genius.

    • E

      I love this line…”this little bit of clumsy and delicious conversation, of longing for connection.” Been there, done that. And like Rachel, I’ve stood there facing a potential BFF and been at a loss for any ways to take that potential forward! It always seems like a sad situation, as I can often sense the other person is just as desirous of friendship as I. But it’s a fine line between forthright declarations and some creepy over the top-ness, thus I like the idea of offering a business card with email info, allowing the other person to make the first move.

  10. Donna

    I completely agree with hb about having cards with your info on them. I’m going to have to make some for myself. Most missed BFF opportunities will be forgotten about in no time, but some will haunt you! A few years ago my husband and I were having dinner at a Japanese restaurant and got in a casual conversation with a couple sitting next to us at the grill. By the end of the meal we were all talking about an Alaskan cruise my husband and I were about to take. The wife and I totally clicked over a shared excitement about the trip and I could sense BFF potential. As we were all paying our checks, she blurted out something to the affect of “we should exchange info so you can tell me how it went”. At that point my husband (who was inexplicably in some huge hurry) was distracting me by trying to hustle me out of my chair and the restaurant. In the second or two that I turned away to give him the “chill out a second look” the moment with the potential BFF was lost because then her husband started the same lets get going speel. If I’d have had one of those cards, I could have tossed it across the table to her and said “email me so I have your info too” instead of looking back over a crowded restaurant thinking I really blew that one.

  11. I think inviting Mr. Club Monaco would have been awesome. He’s free to be a great person to you, and you’re free to bring a new friend into the group in a safe way.

    I think you should get business cards made up with your mission and contact information. That way you can close the deal without having to…really close the deal.

  12. Emily

    My husband and I are attempting to find “couple” friends to have around that can come over for dinners/barbecues/etc with little notice. While out to dinner with our then 3 year old and my very pregnant body, we met couple after couple even talking back and forth tables away. We even have exchanged phone numbers although if they live more than 20 minutes away I really didn’t feel they would fit the bill. One couple lived about 2 miles away and had a boy my son’s age and was pregnant as well….BUT I still never called!! I could have said let’s have a playdate but that completely negates my desire for “couple” friends because it turns into playdates where we are distracted by the kids. Another couple used to live in our town and comes back to eat at our yummy restaurants. We ran into them 3 times and NEVER exchanged numbers. I can’t close the deal, BUT it’s not like they are calling us either. It really is like dating.

    • It IS like dating, for sure. But I think you just have to go for it! Make the call. The worst case scenario, they don’t call back, or make an excuse to get out of it. Sure, it’s a tiny ego bruise, but really no harm done. I think the problem is that in situations like these, neither party does the calling even though you BOTH probably want to get together. You’ve done the hardest step, I think, which is exchanging numbers. Give it a try and let us know what happens…

  13. Margot

    rach- I have been loving your blog but I most love this entry because of the curly girl connection you write about…such a great opening line for some girl on girl friend making:)

  14. NCAA beer pong tournament? Not that I’ve played beer pong in the past decade, but that sounds like so much fun. It’s probably a good thing I was out of town that weekend, because otherwise, I likely would’ve stalked you to the point of crashing your party. =)

    As far as sealing the deal with curl lady? Maybe you could’ve told her there should be a support group for women with curly hair (add me to the list!) and maybe you should start a round-table discussion on products that work and those that don’t!

  15. Pingback: If Only There Were Magic Words… « MWF Seeking BFF

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