Friend At First Sight

Someone asked me the other day if I believe in friend at first sight. Which I do, but only in the same way  I believe in love at first sight. It happens, but hardly ever and if we count on it we’ll probably miss out on some awesome people.

Last night I went to a reading of Witty Women at a fabulous Chicago bookstore. When I first arrived I was introduced to one of the readers. During our brief introduction and handshake, I somehow formed an impression of her. Quiet, I thought. Quiet, shy and not especially friendly.

Then, I kid you not, she got up in front of the room and read a hilarious essay about touching her father’s… you know.  Her dad had had surgery, her mom was out of the room and her father was in pain, so this writer had to just “cowgirl up” and, as she so delicately put it, “come in contact with her dad’s junk.” The story had people doubled over, as did her performance of it.

I was extra surprised by this entire reading because in the all of ten seconds I spent with this woman beforehand, I had formed this completely off-base idea of who she was. This woman is like Steve Martin, I kept thinking during her performance. She’s amazingly funny in front of an audience and then so serious in person.

Not that I’ve met Steve Martin. But that’s what I hear.

Then, after the performance, I saw her talking with the bookstore owner and others, being totally friendly, and realized that she was no Steve Martin. She was an outgoing, funny, apparently awesome woman that I could probably only dream of befriending.

My first impression was, simply, wrong.

In the same vein, I’ve met plenty of women who at first I thought “she is It. The One!” and then we never spoke again after our first girl-date.

Basically, in both cases, it was pretty much the opposite of friend at first sight.

In fact, I’m not sure if I’ve ever experienced this elusive at-first-glance relationship. Perhaps with Callie when we were in 9th grade. But since then? There was this girl in Starbucks once who I was sure could be my friend–don’t ask me why, I think it had something to do with her fun scarf–but every time I worked up the nerve to speak to her, she was on the phone. So that friend at first sight tingle was a one-way situation, apparently.

So, yeah. I believe in friend at first sight. I do. I always think I’ll just know when I spot The BFF, like one would know when they come in contact with the Loch Ness Monster or something. But I don’t know that I’ve ever encountered it first hand.

Have you?


Filed under The Search

10 responses to “Friend At First Sight

  1. Love the story Rachel! I always say that you can sense the potential at first sight, but you never have an instant BFF. There will be many of our friends that we now have that we knew right away that we liked them/had chemistry with them, but we’ll also have many we thought that about and we never followed up with building the friendship…. so I think it’s noting the potential at first sight that we can sometimes sense? But as you so aptly described– we’re not always the best judges of others! 🙂

  2. Unrelated to friend at first sight – you were at the Book Cellar last night? That’s right up the street from me, and I had planned to go to Witty Women, but ended up working late. Shoot!

  3. First impressions are SO often wrong…but I have had the friend at first sight thing happen. When I was in eighth grade, I saw this girl on the bus and thought, That girl is going to be my new best friend, and I was perfectly right. We started chatting at lunch that day and were close friends all through middle and high school. She moved eventually and isn’t good at keeping in touch, but I think if we ever lived in the same town again, we’d be BFF again. Does that count?

  4. Brandy

    I’m bummed after reading this. I’m “that girl” shy, serious, and not especially friendly. There’s no hope for me to make a good first impression. I’ve heard it from friends as long as I can remember ‘you’re not at all like I thought you were when we met.’

  5. Layla

    I love how you talk about finding friendships like most people talk about finding romantic relationships. ” every time I worked up the nerve to speak to her, she was on the phone” reminds me of when I was shy (then I started to wonder if I feel like that about girls more than guys, what if I’m a lesbian… I didn’t start noticing boys until long after most people did.)

  6. Such a good illustration of making judgements too soon–towards the positive assumptions and the negative ones. I totally believe in friends at first site, but like you said (or implied), more often than not our first impressions are off. I loved this line: “It happens, but hardly ever and if we count on it we’ll probably miss out on some awesome people.”

  7. Deb

    The friend at first sight has happened to me! I answered a Craiglist ad for a roommate in Chicago. I was a bit late to my appointment and D., the girl seeing the apt after me, was a bit early. We both hated the place but totally clicked. I left first, twenty minutes later she called me, we got coffee, and the next day we rented an apartment together. Lived together for a year until I left Chicago and had a wonderful time enjoying the city. Friends at first sight do happen!

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