Sunday, November 26, 2006

Rock Star

Erika and I toasted with bellinis at 10:15 this morning because I had been a rock star.

Also, I really needed a drink.

The venue was very small and I really only had an audience of 3 or 4.

But I was a rock star.

As we were being led to our table at Lula's, the woman at the table next to ours looked familiar so my face started turning up into a smile of recognition while my brain caught up to it with her identity. My brain got distracted momentarily because there was a little boy dressed in a full fireman suit including a hat standing on the bench next to her.

As I was sliding into my seat, I looked at the man sitting across from her and panicked slightly because it was my ex-husband's brother! The woman I recognized was his wife and the little boy was the child they had shortly after Dennis left me.

Here's where the rock star part comes in. In that split second, I looked around the restaurant to see that there was no other table that we could switch to, so I said in a totally normal friendly voice, "Hey Dave. Hi Kimberly." They looked like stunned fish but the little boy turned to me and said, "I'm a fireman!" I said, "You certainly are. I'd heard that you existed. You're just as cute as they said you were."

Then, I turned back to Erika and had every conversation that I had intended to have with her, as if people that more than likely believed terrible, untrue things about me were not sitting less than two feet away. For instance, they probably think that I had an emotional affair with a guy when I was on tour. I know Dennis spread that one around pretty thick to explain the divorce, even though the first I heard anything about it wasn't until he had been gone for over a year. My hands shook for the first five or ten minutes but I ultimately got to the point where I forgot they were there for whole sentences at a time. I didn't even need to listen in on their conversation. At one point, one of my brother's friends came in and I excused myself to go say hi to him. Really, I needed to just look at someone friendly, explain the situation briefly and say, "What the hell?" to get it out of my system. He was very nice about it, though. Other than that, I had a very normal breakfast date with my friend Erika that I just didn't happen to be able to taste.

When they got up and left, he led the way out. She waved and smiled and I returned the gesture. She always seemed like a reasonable and insightful person, so I bet she totally understood why I didn't try to make small talk with them. I mean, what would I say to my ex-husband's brother who never really liked me in the first place? That would only get ugly quickly. Better to acknowledge the awkwardness with kindness and the reality of our non-existent relationship with silence. Once they were out the door, though, I crumpled a little. Erika asked who they had been and I explained that it was Dennis's brother. Erika had recognized them from my wedding but hadn't made the connection. That was when she told me I was a rock star. She said she couldn't even tell that there had been anything wrong. I got a little teary with relief that they were gone and she asked if I needed a hug. Then, she got that lightbulb look on her face and asked if I wanted a drink instead.

So, we drank Bellinis, tipped the waitress extra for holding on to the table for another 45 minutes and kept talking like the good girlfriends can do. We didn't even need to talk about Dennis all that much.

In addition to being able to act like everything was OK, I feel like a rock star because it's beginning to feel like everything is OK, even in totally random and unexpected emotionally intense encounters.

Rock on.

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