My Former Self

By Lauren Cohen

Met an engaging guy who happens to live in the same high rise (I rent; he owns) as me. He seems intimidating and amazing – well versed in the arts and sophisticated.

I feel chosen and special when he invites me to dinner followed by jazz.  I’m 22 and living the urbanesque single girl life in my junior one-bedroom apartment on Rittenhouse Square in downtown Philadelphia.  First place of my own with an unobstructed view of the park if positioned in a highly specific, awkward and uncomfortable position.

The first date is tonight. To appear refined, I invite him for wine and hors d’oeuvres as a “predate.”

I have wine glasses (housewarming gift) and an empty fridge. What do I serve and how can I portray that I’m a practiced hostess?

Aha! I decide to visit the fancy cheese store I’ve never set foot in and will create “the perfect spread.”

Why did I invite him over? And why am I desperate to impress him?

As I enter the store, I feel excited. Worldly grownups frequent cheese stores.

I can hear my high school English teacher in my head talking about the symbolism of thresholds. I giggle to myself that I could have one foot on the sidewalk and one foot inside the cheese store and just stand there. An epic and fake dramatic moment bridging childhood and adulthood. But I have the self-awareness that blocking a doorway and posing would be irritating for patrons and quite odd behavior.

Purchases: stuffed olives, two exotic cheeses, pâté, crackers, grapes and fancy napkins. I should have asked what’s good but felt intimidating to communicate with the butchers. So maybe cheese stores don’t employ butchers, but it had the same vibe. Too stressful.

I wear an all-black turtleneck minidress with too shiny boots and attempt “sexy creative.” Do I look fabulous or like a street walker? Or both.

I contemplate no underwear because recently read that it will make me appear free and interesting. But is that cool or gross. Decide against it.

He knocks, strides in and takes a seat looking handsome and comfortable. More so than me. I decide not to share that this spread was put out hours ago and we may be at risk of food poisoning.

He spreads some pâté on a cracker.” This is PERFECT! What is this?”

“Oh – the pâté? Glad you like. I made it!” Did I just claim that I made the pâté? Please don’t ask for the recipe.

“I cannot believe you prepared it yourself!”

Can I escape this? No, too late.

“It’s terrific. Is French cooking a hobby?”

“No. Pâté is actually the only dish I make.”

Who only makes pâté? Redirect, Lauren. Redirect.

“I want to learn more about you. You’re the one that is so interesting!”

The relationship did not last. And I never told him about the pâté.

My former insecure self. Youth is wasted on the young.

###

Lauren Cohen is from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania and lives in Los Angeles. She was the girl wearing a red leather jacket and Navajo jewelry in a sea of tweed. People watcher, mom, wife, museum goer, boot collector, coffee drinker, animal lover, explorer, used book and thrift shop fan. Loves laughter and to pay it forward.

1 thought on “My Former Self”

FewerThan500 authors appreciate your feedback. Please leave a comment.