"The Internet is the most important single development in the history of human communication since the invention of call waiting." - Dave Barry
It was a typical Tuesday morning. The alarm didn't go off and everyone overslept. We ran out of milk, the coffeemaker overflowed and my husband stepped in the water that had cascaded onto the floor and soaked his last pair of clean socks. The printer cartridge ran out of ink while my son was assembling a history project that should have been done the night before, and the cat hacked up a hairball under the dining-room table. Frankly, the day wasn't looking very promising.
My husband squished out of the house without kissing me goodbye and, as I shooed Lewis off to school, he grabbed his iPod but forgot to grab his lunch and his history project. I unfurled a wad of toilet paper and cleaned up the cat puke (the last of the paper towels went to mop up the coffeemaker disaster), then collected Lew's lunch and homework and trudged to the car in my slippers. "What a stupid life," I thought.
My daughter had left the gas tank empty and the front seat littered with Frisbees, parking tickets and paper cups. I coasted downhill to the school and rolled into the closest gas station, where the attendant pointed out that the inspection sticker had expired.
Back at home, I walked the dog, fed the cat, ran the dishwasher, threw in a load of laundry and took a tepid shower because all the hot water was gone. I looked in my closet for something to wear and pulled on a white T-shirt. Then I pulled it off because it made me look fat. I tried to button up a blue button-down. Ugh. Four shirts later, I settled on a black turtleneck, paired it with my favorite black pants and searched the house for a roll of Scotch tape or a lint brush.
Normally, I don't agonize over what to wear. But today, I was meeting a friend for lunch.
Actually, she's not a real friend. She is a Facebook friend - someone who popped up on my laptop some 20-odd years after we had attended college together in upstate New York. I signed up for Facebook a few months ago, although I realize it should probably remain the domain of the young (to quote my daughter: "Mom, old people are ruining Facebook!"). Kids have the time and technological know-how to take online quizzes, post pictures of their parties and keep the world abreast of their status - "Just ate a pint of Ben & Jerry's!" I have stuff to do - like hunt for my car keys and try to get the cat hair off my black pants.
As I drove to the restaurant, I checked my reflection in the rearview mirror. Never do this, especially if you're meeting someone for the first time in 20 years.
Nothing will deflate your self-esteem more completely than the slightly green-tinged view of the top third of your head in direct sunlight. Ugh. As I walked into the restaurant, I hoped that my old friend looked worse. She didn't. I saw her sitting in a corner booth and she looked terrific. Her hair was coiffed, her clothes were designer. Frankly, she looked better than she did in college. I sucked in my stomach as I walked across the dining room.
"Sorry I'm late," I apologized. "It's been a horrible morning." I slid into the booth, grateful that my cat-hairy pants and the 20 pounds I had gained since 1983 were hidden.
"You look fabulous," she lied.
"No, you do ... really," I said.
I wanted to order the turkey Reuben because I was craving comfort food, but my friend ordered a salad, and I said, "Make that two." We started to awkwardly outline the past two decades.
"What about you?" she asked, and I heard myself talking ... Three kids - all doing great, a husband who can still make me laugh, occasional vacations, a house in a neighborhood that I love and some interesting freelance work. I didn't want to brag, so I told her about the cat puke and the coffeemaker and how I almost ran out of gas. And then I realized - it might have been a bad morning, but it's still a pretty good life.