The One That Got Away
Our eyes met across a residential street. I could feel my heart flutter. There was an instant connection, the kind of connection I’d been longing for, and yet I was struck with a paralyzing shyness. Afraid I would appear presumptuous. Or, worse yet, completely desperate — which I was. Thankfully, the intriguing stranger was bold enough to make the first move.
“Your kids are so cute! What age are they?” the mom ventured, holding a toddler in one arm and the hand of a preschooler in the other.
“Two and eight months,” I smiled, nervously pushing Drew’s stroller back and forth. “Yours?”
“Four and two years.”
“Look, Skylar, a big sister and little brother — just like you and Drew!” Mr. Candy exclaimed.
“Yes!” Skye exclaimed back.
“Do you live in this neighborhood?” the mom asked hopefully.
“We DO!” I replied.
Emboldened, the mother crossed the street to talk to us. I found myself straightening my shirt and hoping our children would behave for a moment. This was the opportunity I’d been hoping would cross my path — the opportunity to connect with another seemingly normal mom who lives nearby. All of our neighborhood friends had moved away over the past year, taking our play dates and Happy Hours with them. I was eager to find someone to fill that void. Ideally, someone who had kids around the same age as mine and, even more importantly, shared my passion for margaritas.
“Are you a stay-at-home mom?” she asked hopefully.
“Not exactly,” I replied. The mom’s face fell, disappointed. Uh-oh. I was losing her already. I scrambled to recover.
“But, you know, the kids are only in school for a little while every day. I have a flexible work schedule.”
A pleasant enough conversation about local preschools ensued, but neither of us had the balls to say what was really on our minds: WILL YOU BE MY MOMMY FRIEND? Please? Eventually, the conversation fizzled, followed by an awkward pause. You know the kind of pause that hangs over the end of the date when both parties want to kiss but neither is brave enough to pull the trigger? Yeah, that kind of awkward pause. We waited…and waited… and then:
“Well, it was nice to meet you!” Mr. Candy sung, oblivious to the unspoken drama.
“Yeah. You, too,” the mom said with an uncertain smile.
I waited until we were a safe distance away to hit Mr. Candy on the arm.
“Ow! What’s that for?”
“I wanted to get her phone number for play dates!”
“Why didn’t you?”
“Because! I didn’t want to seem like a stalkerish freak!”
“Maybe you could go to her daughter’s preschool and leave a note for her.”
“Yeah. THAT won’t make me look like a stalkerish freak at all.”
I joked that I should make business cards for the next time I bump into somebody with play date potential — Because, seriously? This whole play buddy thing is a weird, foreign world to me — but I should have known: THEY ALREADY EXIST. Behold:
Of course, my play date solicitation card would look something more like this:
What? Not maternal enough? Okay, FINE, you win. I’ll re-add the rainbow and bubbles.