I once met a woman at the after party of a wedding reception. Our short conversation was based on me very eavesdropping and interrupting a conversation that she was not having with me, but I decided to be part of. I also knew from that this woman who sounded smart was also gay because I have an extraordinary gaydar meter and also, and completely unrelated, I overheard her say that she was. In the mid 2000’s this was considered a freebie in lesbian dating.
But when we started talking I didn’t get a chance to get her name before we were interrupted and then I saw her leaving. I thought maybe I should leave, and maybe she would see me leaving and we could start talking again, but by the time I had mulled over whether this was creepy or just a casual coincidence she was already gone. And even though tv, movies, and craigslist ads make us believe missed connections are life changing opportunities, I figured I should just let this go.
A few months later I went to dinner with my newlywed friend. I thought maybe I should tell him about this woman I met at his wedding, who he apparently never thought to set me up with, which is weird since straight people love to set up the only gay people they know. When I asked him if he knew who she was with the very detailed description of: smart, wore a blue dress, straight brown hair. He said I just described every woman basically, and that he couldn’t think of anyone he knew and maybe she was someone’s friend or date, or one of his wife’s friends maybe. This was disappointing.
It turns out that newlyweds sometimes host numerous social gatherings: house warming party, new puppy shower, our first friendsgiving, Christmas party, one-year anniversary dinners, all that dumb misery-inducing stuff. And I decided to go to all of these things, and just maybe I had an ulterior motive. Finally, at this one year dinner party, I saw her again. I was so excited because I could finally get her name, and also I come up with an excellent witty retort from a conversation we had one year ago. I finally made it over toward her and unfortunately, she was standing with a woman who was, well, Cate Blanchette on a business trip esque. But she saw me, and the unnamed woman I had so badly wanted to talk to again politely greeted me, but I unfortunately and completely honestly “had to go.” I then realized I had for a second time forgot to ask her what her name was, but I might as well move on.
Sometime after that, I went reluctantly with my wedded friend to get drinks and catch up when we got there, Cate Blanchette in business woman weekly was there and of course Nameless was also there but this time she came right up to me before I could bolt out the door and we were finally having an actual conversation. Unfortunately, I did not remember my super smart witty retort but she would have loved it. She told me she had been really sorry she didn’t give me her number the last time we saw each other or at the reception, and I told her the absolute truth that, “I hadn’t really thought about it, but we should do it now.”
But then I realized something, she had called me Dina, she already knew my name and I didn’t want to wreck this conversation by asking for her name, because for some reason she already knew mine. So I had the smartest, brightest idea in the whole world, a free pass for not having her name and feeling too awkward about asking for it now. So I told her to text my number which I put in her phone with my name and I said let me know it’s you, because I am cool and casual. And it was a victory, a complete success, I did it! I totally did it. Except, she texted “it’s me.”
We set up an easy drinks to maybe dinner date, turns out, Business Cate was just her friend. In preparation of this date I thought of all the sneaky things I could do to get her name without the awkwardness of me having to ask her. I practiced asking her questions while I was in the shower, I also practiced this story there. But, I decided that if I had to, at the very end, and definitely not at the beginning, I would just be upfront about it. Because if the date was bad I could slide out of this situation undetected.
And the date went well, which is weird because that had not been much of my experience in the past. And this put me in a bit of a dilemma because now I had to tell her because we had already made plans for a second date. And I didn’t realize until now that maybe going on a date with someone that you met multiple times and never clarified what their name was might make you look like a giant prick. So as we were leaving I tried to be cool casual and tried to pass it off as something funny, saying something like, “you know, you are going to laugh at this probably, but when we met at that reception you actually never told me your name.”
She looked at me very puzzled, a little bit shocked, she asked me if I was joking, and then seriously if I knew what her name was. When I said I really did not but was eagerly listening for opportunities for it to come up, she pointed out that I had numerous ones, including just asking her and then she left and again I did not know what her name was.
I felt terrible about this situation, so to feel better about myself, I tried to justify what I had done to a straight white male colleague who told me that I was right should have just kept pretending until I figured it out, and that’s what he would have done. This response made me realize that I should have done the exact opposite. I really, really, really, needed to apologize and stop pretending to be cool and casual, and admit to her that I am, in fact, a spazz mountain who really hates awkward situations—like having to admit you don’t know someone’s name after having met them multiple times, especially when they know your name, even if you really want to know their name. So I texted her because I am a coward who could not call her and I told her how sorry I was, and like rehearsing statements or things like this story in the shower, I also prewrite text messages or emails a million times before I send them, I made sure it was really nice and thoughtful.
I assumed that this text would go poorly or ignored, and it did go ignored for three days which is like ten thousand years in lesbian texting time. But she did respond, and when I was finally brave enough to look at my phone it just said something like, “better figure out my name by the time of the date you are taking me on Friday.” with half a dozen martini emojis. And so we went on our second date and I spent the whole time telling her all the ways and strategies I had tried to figure out her name, except for the blatantly obvious ones like asking her directly, but it still went well and I learned that her name was Malaney. I learned it by asking her.
And now, almost ten years later, Malaney and I are uhh about to uhh get married. And and, and, just this one other thing, uhm, she’s right there and if you ever see her you should ask her to tell her version of this story, it doesn’t even sound like the same story.