As she picked up the glass of wine from the beverage table, Kristin took a few gulps of air, trying to calm her nerves which were making her feel like little ants were crawling all over her insides. Don’t worry, she thought. Everything will be just fine. But so far no matter what she tried things weren’t fine. This was her first attempt at socializing since the break up with Mike—something she nor anyone else she knew (except for Mike, it seems) ever saw coming. If she’d only known maybe she could have changed. She would have done anything for him. Still would, she was forced to admit to herself. She felt her face flush and beads of sweat forming on her forehead and around her nose. No! No! Don’t let my makeup run.
Kristin was well aware that Mike and his new girlfriend—Deena was it—might show up. And here she was without a date. Saundra said she’d meet her here, but where was she? Always late Saundra. You’re an idiot for counting on her, Kristin chastised herself. So here she was alone, trying to gather her wits. Trying to seem normal, but she wasn’t “normal” who was she kidding? “Normal” was being at a party with Mike. “Normal” was feeling confident she had a date for life, not looking over at the door every time it opened to see if Mike and Deena (or whatever her name was) were walking in.
She needed to find someone to talk to before Saundra showed. She couldn’t be standing by the table drinking alone if the “new couple” walked in. Her “ants” scurried faster at that thought. She scanned the room for possibilities. There! Over there in that corner. Kristin saw a group of her old classmates circled together talking, laughing. That would be a good place to “hide.” But wait, what if they were talking about her and Mike? What if they asked her about the break up? Oh, Saundra if you were here where you’re supposed to be, I wouldn’t be going through this quagmire of questions. Kristin took a few more deep gulps of air, forced a smile on her face and gingerly walked toward the group of “girls.”
She was halfway to the desired area when she heard a brisk, “Hi!” from behind her. She knew that voice! She whisked around a bit too fast and a few drops of wine landed on her white jeans.
Great! Kristin thought, as she watched them in horror spread a bit and form an eight on her pants.
“Oh no! Quick let’s get some water on that before it sets,” said Saundra, the owner of the voice behind her.
“Saundra, where were you? I’ve been a wreck waiting for you?” Kristin said as she and Saundra headed toward the bathroom.
“I know, I’m sorry,” Saundra answered. “My hair took longer than I thought. By the way, how do you like it?”
Ooooooo! That Saundra! Always so able to change the subject, usually focusing on something about her.
“What? I’ve been waiting for you half scared out of my mind! You said you’d be here.”
“I said I was sorry. I saw this style in Glamour and I thought I’d try it. It wasn’t supposed to take this long. Let’s get you fixed up.”
As they stood in the kitchen,Saundra, persistently rubbing at Kristin’s stain—it was soft pink now. She heard a laugh from the living room. One she’d never forget. “He’s here!” She gasped as she grabbed Saundra’s wrist for support. Kristin tried some deep breaths again, but wasn’t getting much in the way of air.
“Calm down, I’m with you. Things will be fine! We just go out there giggling like we’ve just had the best laugh and head to the group in the corner. I see Renee and Jen there. It’s just girls.”
Saundra was always so in control in situations like this. Kristin decided she was glad she asked Saundra to go with her.
“I don’t know why you didn’t agree to pick up the McNeal twins. They said they’d come with us. It would have looked like we had dates,” she whispered between giggles, as they walked toward their destination.
“Yeah, a fake date, just what I need. This is hard enough.”
“Okay, just don’t say I didn’t try. We’ll make this.”
They were just about to the group gossiping in the corner when Saundra stopped suddenly and gasped. Kristin held on to the glass tighter, noticing a drop had spilled on her hand. “Watch it will you?”
“Oh, sorry, Krissy! I couldn’t help it. Don’t look now, but that girl Mike is with-—what’s her name—-is not wearing any underwear. I guess we know why he was attracted to her!”
Kristine’s head hurt, pounding like some kid was using it for a trampoline, by the time they made it to their destination. Some of the girls stopped their conversation to greet us. LeAnn, who was standing beside me turned quickly in my direction. I heard her say, “Wh . . .” as I felt her left shoulder bump the glass I was holding and it crashed and shattered onto the wooden floor.
There was the usual stop in conversation, when something unexpected happens at gatherings. All of a sudden, Kristin felt like a stand-up comic who has forgotten the punchline. To make matters worse, she knew Mike was looking, too. Oh, beam me up, Scottie! There’s no way I can get to the kitchen for cleaning supplies without passing them. Luckily Saundra was now by her side, at least that would be some support. Kristin wouldn’t feel completely naked.
Speaking of naked, she was now close enough to Mike and Deena, or whatever, to see that Saundra had been right. This new girlfriend wasn’t wearing any underwear. It was pretty obvious from the light yellow jumpsuit she was wearing. Saundra gave Kristin a little nod and a smile, giving her the courage to walk by.
As she did, Mike spoke. “Uh, hi, Kristin, Saundra. I was thinking I’d see you here. Um, this is my uh friend Deena.” All three women smiled and nodded quickly at one another. Kristin couldn’t tell if Deena knew anything about her or not. “Listen, I know how that old tennis rotator cuff injury bothers you when you put pressure on it. I’ll be glad to clean that mess up for you.”
Ah, the good old “what-a-pal” routine . . . impressive, “No, I think I can get it. Saundra will help,” Kristin said, not quite meeting Mike’s eyes.
“Yeah, we’ve got this covered. See some of the girls are already working on dabbing it up,” Saundra chimed in. “We’d best be going before the stain gets too much bigger or set in, though. And those glass shards! Wouldn’t want anyone to step on a stray. Later.”
“We have to get out of here!” Kristin said to Saundra when we reached to kitchen and grabbed what we needed to clean up my mess. The nervous “ants” inside me were doing the rumba.
“We will, we will,” said Saundra. We’ll just clean up. Wait about ten minutes so it’s not too obvious, and then we’ll leave. It won’t be so bad.”
Won’t be so bad?! If the “ants” moved any faster, Kristin was afraid she’d start gyrating herself!
But, that’s just what she and Saundra did. As they were shutting the door behind them, the last thing Kristin heard was party laughter—only she didn’t feel like laughing. Who knew when she would again.
But she’d made it through one night. With friends like Saundra, maybe Kristin could find a way to make it through more.