Just When You Think You've Made a New Friend

When we first moved to town, we were invited to dinner by friends of friends who we had met only twice, once on the street, once at the neighborhood school.  From those brief encounters and the enthusiastic recommendations by our mutual friends, we were confident that we were in for a nice evening together.  And we were right about that.  Our hosts were warm and gracious, the food delicious, the conversation lively and stimulating.  We shared several long laughs and agreed all around that it was a very good time.

Still, after returning home and putting the kids to bed, I was off kilter.  But since I was practicing the art of letting go, I pushed the nagging away.  My mind, stubborn as it is, kept springing back to the unsettling concern. My husband and I laid in bed that night reviewing the evening, laughing about some things we had laughed about over dinner and some things we hadn't.  My husband pronounced that since we had done no major damage, it was possible, with a little luck, we could develop a solid friendship with these folks.  I reluctantly agreed, repressing the desire to bring up what was bothering me, deciding it wasn't necessary and was best forgotten.  But as my husband snored, my worry festered and throbbed, irritating every other worry I have ever worried, making this new worry seem incredibly insignificant which worried me even more.

It was something I had said during dinner.  It had slipped from my mouth without thought, meant as a kind of joke, but once out, marred the air with a distasteful stench that wrinkled our hosts' faces and wilted the conversation.  Far from the first time such a thing had happened to me, I lay in bed, knowing that the fretting would only escalate as the night limped along.  I woke my husband and asked him if he remembered me saying what I had said, and he mumbled that he had and thought it was a stupid thing to say. Immediately realizing that his comment about my comment was going to keep him awake trying to talk me down, he amended his comment by saying, "But I'm sure no one else even heard you say it."

Needless to say, I did not sleep well.

The next day, blurry and weary as I was, brighter things to worry about arose, and the worries that had keep me awake now seemed silly. Obviously, my husband was right. Most likely no one even heard, given my tendency to mumble, and everyone's tendency to think more about what we are going to say than about what others are saying.

But when I went to check my email, there was a message from our hosts.  It read, "Could you please call me today.  There is something I need to talk with you about." I stared at the message, aghast. I showed my husband.  He seemed genuinely concerned. We talked about it for a good long time, my husband coaching me to come out swinging.  When I finally called, my heart was pounding so hard, my greeting quivered.  "What's up?" I asked with feigned nonchalance.  She wanted to talk to me about last night.  She hadn't slept well, she said, because she had been up thinking about something that was said at dinner, even though she didn't want it to bother her, even though she tried to let it go, the concern had kept nagging her all night long.

Then she took a deep breath and apologized for the stupid thing she had said, that she couldn't believe she had said it, that it wasn't like her to say such things, and that she really didn't mean it in the way it had sounded, and how she hoped that it wouldn't effect the future of our friendship, and that she would love nothing more than if I could forget that she had said it in the first place.

"Already long forgotten," I assured her.  Which couldn't have been closer to the truth since I didn't even remember her saying the stupid thing she claimed to have said in the first place.

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