So I’m just settling in with my triple latte for a marathon TopChef viewing after getting the boys off to school, when there's a knock at the door. Strange, as the UPS guy normally delivers packages late afternoon.
I walk over to the door, suddenly hyper-conscious of my appearance. Why, oh why, did I forgo a shower on this particular day? Did I at least remember to brush my teeth (thankfully, yes). I glance in the hall mirror, and smooth down my messy hair. Oh, who cares, it’s probably a salesperson or a Jesus converter. He or she will not be concerned with how I look (or, let’s be honest, how I smell).
I close my right eye, and press my left eye up against the peep hole. There was no peep hole here the day we bought the house. I’m silently congratulating myself for insisting on this $25 purchase which The Husband deemed “frivolous” and “unnecessary” at the time.
Some Random Guy is standing there, waiting. I don’t know Random Guy. Now the question becomes: did he notice my car in the driveway (proof that I’m home) or did he perhaps hear my (silent, panther-like) footsteps as I approached the front door? Can I realistically get away with slinking away without opening the door, and having to find out what Random (annoying) Guy wants?
MOV, you are waaaaaay overthinking this. Who cares if you are messy, who cares if the house is messy, just be polite and open the damn door and find out why he is standing there, knocking.
I open the door. Random Guy is about 40, my age, and is dressed nicely in khakis and a leather jacket. He is tall and good-looking and has the clean-cut appeal of a fireman or someone in the military. He’s wearing a black baseball cap and expensive-looking wire-framed glasses. Okay, hand me your dumb flyer for whatever it is you’re selling so I can get back to finding out if Carla wins the “Italian challenge” on TopChef.
“Hi, MOV!” says Random Guy, like he knows me. Huh. Does he know me? I absolutely do not recognize him. I do what I always do in these situations: panic. I stand there, smiling at Random Guy, while flipping through my mental Rolodex of names and faces. The Rolodex is not flipping fast enough. Neighbor? No. Co-worker? Nope. Dad of one of my son’s friends? Maybe. Teacher from the school? Argh! I don’t know! The pressure is getting to me.
I stand there for what seems like about a million years, but is probably 15 seconds. I have a grin plastered on my face, the type of grin that is the exact equivalent to when a friend hands you a Christmas present and you have nothing for her. A fake grin. A frozen grin. A grin with the corners turned up, like, “I’m happy!” but really, a grin that you are trying to buy time with.
“MOV!” he says again, like I’m deaf, “Don’t you recognize me? It’s me!” He takes a step closer, like he might be potentially going in for the hug. Do I hug the UPS guy? No. Do I hug a friend’s husband? Is he a friend’s husband? Is he my cousin?
Who the hell is this guy? Is there someone else named MOV who lives on my same street and he has us confused?
I manage to finally squeak out, “Hi! How are you?!” I’m using the identical cautious tone as when I answer the phone and I have no idea who I’m talking to (“What’s new?” “Nothing, how ‘bout yourself?”).
Random Guy laughs. He is unaware that this impromptu visit is causing my internal stress levels to peak right now. He does go in for the hug, and I hug him back (if this is my husband’s brother, or my former boss, I would definitely be expected to give a quick hug).
I get a good look at his face, and he takes his glasses off.
“Derek!” I blurt out, as if on a game show and the correct answer has finally come to me in the final two seconds of the contest.
“Yes, yes, it’s me, Derek!” he confirms.
“Wow! I haven’t seen you in such a long time, wow!”
“I just wanted to drop off this check for …”
“Oh, that’s right, he mentioned that you might stop by. Fantasy football, right?”
“Yeah. And I’m hoping I can get the guys together for some poker sometime soon.”
“Geesh, Derek, how’ve you been? Come on in, please, my house is a mess, but come on in,” I step back, pushing Neat-Freak Queen Virgo out of the way, and allowing Derek to walk into the house.
“I’ve never seen your new house,” says Derek, looking around. “It’s very pretty.”
Now Queen Virgo has reappeared, nervous as always. She whispers in my ear, “You absolutely can't give him a tour of the house. The kids' toys are everywhere, your dirty socks are on the floor next to the bed, which is unmade by the way, and I don’t think you even bothered to do any dishes from last night.” Damn Queen Virgo. Always right.
“I’d give you the full tour,” I hear myself say, “but, uh, the house is kinda messy right now, I’m sorry.” I smile apologetically. My facial expressions have progressed from frozen grins to apologetic smiles, maybe they’ll morph into genuine happiness at some point, if Derek could just tell a joke or something.
As if reading my mind, he does. He launches into some entertaining anecdote about his recent trip to San Diego while his wife was stuck without power in a snow storm here in Crazy Town for three days.
“Wait, you live in Crazy Town?” I interrupt.
“Yes, where did you think I lived?”
“Uh, I thought you lived in The Big City?”
He laughs again, Derek is known for his hearty laugh. He shakes his head, “MOV, I only live about five minutes from here!” He can’t believe that I don’t know that, one of The Husband’s best friends lives practically walking distance away, and we’ve never invited him and his wife over for drinks.
Now I‘m embarrassed not only about my attire (that would be sweats) and my appearance (do we really need to revisit that image) but also my gaping lack of manners and general hospitality.
“We have to have you over!” I hear myself say, while Queen Virgo is reminding me that we will need to be sure to clean the house in that event.
“Absolutely!” he says enthusiastically.
“Okay, great,” I reply, setting the envelope with the check on the front table. I put my hand on his arm, not so subtly ushering him out the door. “I wish you could stay longer, but I totally understand if you have to get back to work.” As soon as the words leave my mouth, I berate myself: is this the friend that just lost his job? please, God, let it be a different friend.
“Work?” he says.
I try to read him. Did he say “work” like, “I am independently wealthy and I don’t need to work”? or did he say “work” like, “I am out of work and looking for a job, thanks for reminding me, you Mean Person.”
“MOV, you know I work for myself, I set my own hours.”
I nod at him, smiling. This time my smile is sincere. He has walked out the front door. “Okay, then, Derek, glad I got to see you. I’ll let The Husband know you stopped by.”
I sit back down to watch my show, and the cat jumps up in my lap. She is oblivious to the dirty dishes and the unmade bed, and she doesn't seem to mind that I’m wearing sweats.
("Me Or Virgo?")