Home » Creative writing » Free Drink Event, Part Two – Meeting New People

Free Drink Event, Part Two – Meeting New People

Thrillist photo by Caroline Dixey

It’s been a while now since I went to the free vodka event. I find myself wistful for rooftop garden spaces with deep green leaves overflowing terra cotta pots and carved planters, and the warm wood of a long dignified bar tucked into a far corner. I don’t spend much time in bars, but I like the look and feel of different types. These days I’d love to go back to that one and order something muddled with lime and sprigs of mint in gentrified comfort.

What I don’t miss is what I left out of my original article about my brush with the place. I’ve only just emerged from the residual strangeness of my encounter with two odd women and their very nice friend. The nice friend had an easy smile, open personality and intelligent demeanor. Her friends tried to be intelligent, but they missed the other two attributes for lack of seeing anything advantageous in them. Funny, since they were reasonably new to Chicago and expressed dismay at the cold treatment they received from ‘south side women’. Even though I found that strange, I told them how sorry I was to hear such a thing. How wrong, I thought, that newcomers should be treated so unfairly in their new city. They were welcoming to me when I returned to the high table they had now settled on, with the drink I’d brought back from my excursion to the bar, the table at which I’d already written a poem and sampled a glass of honey-flavored vodka lemonade.

I tried to look each of them in eye with a smile as we introduced ourselves. The tallest woman began to have trouble looking at me, as if I was unworthy of her sight. I immediately knew she was one to avoid, but I was happy to be meeting new people so I was polite. I smiled at her too, before looking away.

Detail of J. Crew linen blouse

Somehow here I feel compelled to tell you what I was wearing. Clothes can be a kind of shorthand, and an oddly dressed person or someone with no inclination toward style could give an unfortunate impression to people who don’t delve deeper through conversation. I lean toward a classic style with artsy/hippie touches. On this evening, I wore the pair of jeans I have that fit well and are still a deep (though slightly faded) color, high black wedges, and a loose fitting, sophisticated, powdery pink sleeveless J. Crew linen blouse with lovely pin tucks and stitching. I wore a small pale green and pink crystal hair clip on one side to hold back errant strands. I know I looked like I had sense. I was hoping to attract a fellow.

My favorite hair clip

After they shared their employment statuses, I somehow I fell into trouble with the “What do you do?” question. I let slip that I was unemployed at the moment, but seriously writing with a blog and a couple of works-in-progress. The pleasant one asked about my blog. The tallest one looked sour, as if a foul smell was emanating from my direction. The last, who stood between the other two, perked with something approaching anger and said, “Do you want to work?”

I was too shocked, shaken, to respond in kind. I’ve thought of a few things I wish I’d said, but in the name of education, since she asked, I gave a three or four sentence explanation for the fact that trying to find a paying position in the present job market isn’t as easy as it may seem. The attorneys, accountants, administrators, and other professionals I’ve met at jobs events could tell her the same thing.

She said, “I don’t believe that.”

Of course I should have explained how little her tiny thoughts meant to me, but I was too tipsy and immediately sad inside to expose my feelings and lose my half smile. I didn’t want to sink so far away from the respite I’d hoped to find at such an event. The pleasant one tried to intervene obliquely on my behalf and managed to veer the conversation slightly. The obnoxious one stopped to take a sip of her drink, then announced that her mother had become a writer after retiring, authoring several books. She added that her mother was fond of sharing her tricks of the trade at free seminars aimed toward new writers.

I was honestly interested. “Does your mother have a blog?” I wasn’t trying to smile, I just did. I was in a dimension somewhat removed from the one in which she had insulted me. Don’t ask me how I got there.

She sputtered, no doubt realizing how strange it was that she wouldn’t know.

I’ll just stop this story here. The only other things worth noting are that she and I eventually exchanged business cards and that — from the research I did on her (did you think I wouldn’t?) — I found her mother’s author website, the names of her books and sample pages from them. Her mother is a writer with little use for, or perhaps knowledge about, the beauty of language or the diverse ways it can be arranged. Her mother is a learned university graduate, retired from an esteemed profession and I have nothing whatsoever against her. Obviously there is a market for her novels and short stories. More power to her and her marketing skills.

The daughter, on the other hand, insulted my character and hurt my feelings for absolutely no reason. I hold that against the daughter. She should be glad that I haven’t used her name. I wouldn’t think of doing that.

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22 thoughts on “Free Drink Event, Part Two – Meeting New People

  1. Oh owwwww, friend. What a nasty piece of work you had the misfortune to meet. Good for you for being adult about it. One of the things I’ve “owned” with my recent decision to own my connection to my inner child is that I will probably always hurt like a child when people are mean. I know not to take it personally, but still, whenever it happens I still feel a little like my world just collapsed. I’m sad this happened to you on a night out, but glad you wrote about it.

    • Your kind, understanding words brought tears to my eyes. Thanks, Lisa. I felt bad about what she said, then the reality of the many misinformed, uncaring people who think the way she does just fell over me and I couldn’t shake the feeling of failure. This incident colored my life for the past few weeks, so I was glad yesterday to finally find the words to help me shake it off. I remembered that I had teeth.

  2. Oh, some people are strange, aren’t they. I’m glad you could stand outside this situation and maintain some detachment. Sadly, you illustrate the lottery of meeting new people. I guess we all have to run the risk of such encounters in order to find the relationships that work. At least you don’t have to spend more time with these aloof manneqiuns and can move on, putting the experience behind you.

    • I lost that detachment later when I walked out of the event and all the sad feelings I’d pushed down felt like a crushing weight. Yesterday I found my way back to that measure of detachment, even though that kind of incident becomes a part of one’s story. I’ve just decided it should be filed under things that make me mad instead things that just hurt.

      You’re so right about the risk of meeting new people. I want to keep trying, but I find myself wishing for a crystal ball.

  3. Heh. I like the way that you show that you have class by withholding her name and that she lacked it by insulting you and suggesting that your work wasn’t a job (even though it could be her mother’s job). A-S-S

    • Thank you, Jessie. And guess what — I’d concentrated so much on the other strange things in this incident, that I hadn’t quite grasped the point you brought up about her respect for her mother’s current job. I have so much respect for other people who work at writing. Maybe I better find some for myself. Thanks for making me think about that.

  4. You are a stronger woman than I, Re I have a big mouth, and probably would have told her exactly what I thought of her little jabs. It amazes me how rude some people can be. Does this somehow make them feel better about themselves?

    Bravo for taking the classy route. And thank you for turning it into a story to share with us here; it’s wonderful to read the work of someone with a knowledge about the beauty of language and the diverse ways it can be arranged. 😉

    • Thank you for that, Nicole. 🙂

      I think you hit it when you wondered if being rude helps them feel better about themselves. I wonder if they’ve been behaving badly for so long that they don’t even realize they’re doing it anymore? If they ever did …

  5. My husband’s favorite saying is, ‘people suck’. He’s a hermit at heart, but the more I hear things like this, the more I realize, well, maybe that should be a tee shirt. I agree with Nicole that this woman had to run others down to feel better. And she couldn’t even come up with something she personally does to feel superior; she had to do it vicariously through her mother’s accomplishments. You obviously have more class. Oh, and I love the mental image of what you were wearing. Very nice!

    • Thanks, Lisa! I thought I was dressed pretty decent, as far as that goes at the moment. I’m beginning to feel hermit-y myself, but so far I’m fighting it tooth and nail. I was very outgoing when I was really little so there’s quite a battle going on inside me.

  6. LadySparks!!! I added three exclamation marks because I’m trying to convey just how much I’ve come to respect you as a writer and genuinely empathetic, caring soul that you are. I wish I was there to give miss.clueless (b/c evidently she had no idea what a gifted writer you are) an uppercut!

    Apparently, education and empathy doesn’t go hand in hand. Seems like the more I meet these “plugged in” and “well-connected” folk, the more I grow tired by their lack of class and real connectedness.

    I’m glad you took the time to write about this even given the circumstances. YOU took more than the high road; you wrote about it intelligibly, and in a manner that I’d probably lack the composure to do. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for the kind words and support, Ms. Empress. It means a lot to me that you see how I try and how I feel. I’m so glad to know you, but glad you didn’t get to execute that uppercut. 🙂 (Just seeing you mention it makes me feel better!) You’re a sweetheart!

  7. Some people are just unbelievable. You have to wonder how she goes through life, though — I bet it’s all kind of sad. I’m sure you’re not the only one she offended that week or that day (or at that party). And don’t worry — the only person she embarrassed or made to look bad was herself. So sad.

  8. It makes you wonder if she’s one of the lucky few who’ve never gone through any adversity in life, doesn’t it? I’d have probably answered something like: “No I DON’T want to work, because I LOVE not knowing if I’ll have electricity next month.”
    Now to the part of me that likes to poke fun at everything. At the end of paragraph 4, the 2 sentences: “I know I looked like I had sense” and “I was hoping to attract a man”, well, do they really belong together? Hehehehehe.

    • Oh how I wish I’d said that, TTD! Still, I wonder if she was repeating some unrealistic ‘party line’ and would’ve said something meaner no matter how I responded.

      That last bit made me smile. Point taken. 🙂

    • That’s all right. It happens to me all the time even though I’ve taken to reading over my comments at least once before I hit send. (Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t delete them entirely when I had the chance.)

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