Recent Splats according to Miz Yank

A little off-key

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“Hope you’re around for the obligatory annual visit,” Mitch and Denise had written in the Christmas card that arrived late last week.  They’re close friends from my law school days, and I see them regularly, including during the holidays.

They always encourage me to bring a guest when I come over, but I’ll be going solo this year, and not just because I’m in between significant others.   Much as I love Mitch and Denise, on the rare occasions when I’ve brought a date to their house, things haven’t gone too well.

There was the time, back in 2007, when they invited me and my then-boyfriend, “John,” to their house for a dinner party.  An assistant dean from our law school and her husband rounded out the group.

The dean had introduced me to Mitch when we were 1Ls in the fall of 1998, and she took a personal interest in both of us that she maintained even after we graduated.  She always kept an eye out for dating prospects for me, so I was excited to introduce her to John.

I knew she’d like the fact that he was un-lawyerly, kind and tall.  She’d also appreciate his success as an entrepreneur, whether or not she was a fan of the online gaming industry he worked in.   I suspected she’d view his laid-back, reserved nature a good complement to my chattiness.

And she might have, except it didn’t look so complementary when John withered in the face of her steady stream of questions.  He looked relieved when she shifted the focus away from him.  Eventually his look of relief gave way to a face of boredom.  He tried to hide it but the occasional flare of his nostrils as he nose-yawned revealed his true feelings.

We moved into the dining room, where he appeared moderately engaged but uncomfortable.  His taste in chair styles leaned more toward beanbag than Queen Anne.

As we dined on pork loin, he followed the conversation, meaning he was always a step or two behind it.  The evening was not unfolding as I had envisioned.

After dinner, I knew John was ready to go.  Just as I was about to start the goodbye process, Denise asked me to play their piano.  She and Mitch always made this request.  Usually I didn’t mind but this time I tried to beg off.

“Oh, you all have better things to do than sit around and listen to me bang on a piano,” I said. The dean dismissed my objection with a wave of her hand.

“You have to indulge us at least a little bit before you go.  I’ve never heard you play.”  She said this as if I were Billy Joel instead of an amateur who’d taken lessons through high school and still remembered how to play a few tunes.

With leaden feet I followed the group into the living room.  I hoped John might at least welcome the change of venue and a respite from lawyer talk.

After I played a jazz number and a ballad, they asked me to play played a classical piece.  I knew just the thing: A rollicking, challenging Beethoven allegro.

I had just gotten through the toughest part, a set of fast-paced arpeggios at opposite ends of the keyboard, and was making my way toward the end of the piece.  From the corner of my eye I saw the dean’s face.  She wore a tiny frown that I took as a sign of concentration and interest.

I glanced at Mitch and Denise.  They looked happy.

I stole a peek at John. He looked…asleep.

The dean may well have been interested in my piece but she was plainly transfixed by the sight of my boyfriend on the loveseat, eyes closed, head back and mouth ajar.   The sound of hands clapping woke him up, but I barely heard it over the voice of the fat lady warming up in the wings.

My next boyfriend, “Steve,” came to dinner at Denise and Mitch’s, too.  Steve was 11 years my junior and had a huge, fun personality to match his king-size smarts.

This time, other guests attended in place of the dean and her husband, and there was no playing of the piano.  (Perhaps Mitch and Denise feared touching off another relationship-ending bout of narcolepsy.)

But some playing did occur.  At some point after dinner, Steve ended up in the basement rec room, horsing around with Denise and Mitch’s teenaged son and his friends.

I can’t blame Steve for choosing the kids over us.  They were, after all, closer to his age.  But I did blame him for putting a large hole in the drywall that brought a swift and awkward close to another evening at Denise and Mitch’s.

Yep, “plus none” is definitely the way to go this year.


  1. Alec Rogers says:

    Sometimes +1 isn’t an addition but a subtraction.

    Alone you add more to any occasion than anyone with their +1’s I know.

    • I can’t argue with your math! And here’s hoping the people who’ve invited me to their houses share your view of me as a guest.

  2. Yikes! With that track record, I’d skip the +1, too.

    My sister once dated a guy who was always three steps behind in conversation — it was painful and awkward when he was around; I was relieved that he was only a temporary distraction for her.

    • SoupMama, if my family had a nickel for every time they felt relieved that someone I dated and/or married was only a temporary distraction, they’d have retired to Tahiti by now. So in a way I guess they miss it.

  3. But you’ve been invited back! That’s a good sign.

  4. Been waiting for this one! As usual, you’ve given it fantastic treatment!

    • Why thank you! Believe it or not, I had to be reminded of it–the sheer volume of stories like this makes forgetting them a constant danger.

  5. John is an undeserving dick.

    Play for me?

  6. Hahha awkward. Especially the hole in the wall part – whoops!

    • You ain’t kiddin.’ I try to keep date awkwardness between me and the victim, but sometimes you get lucky and there’s plenty to share!

  7. I love your definition of “following” a conversation. Those first meetings of friends and boyfriends are always so awkward!

    • Thank you! And so true about the first meetings. Sometimes my friends are a little rough on the suitor, but I couldn’t defend Rip Van Winkle.

  8. Well, now I hate all my deans because they never took any interest in me. But, back to you. I think you are my new crush, because this is hilarious. I love a good bean bag guy. Dating stories are my favorite of all time. And this is such a great one.

    • Thank you, Christie! And perfect timing, too, because I am definitely in the market for a new crush. As long as you caffeinate sufficiently and show a little respect for property, we’ll get along just fine.

  9. Ha, oh my gosh have you ever got some good stories!
    Not only do they make me laugh, they remind me why I hated dating so much. Haha.

    • Thank you, Dawn! If a dating story can double as a public service announcement for marriage appreciation, so much the better. 🙂

  10. How awkward! Glad you get to enjoy yourself solo this year. Dating is so hard. But what great stories this fiascos make later!

    • Thanks, Stacie! And you just articulated my entire philosophy on dating. Even the bad ones are usually worth enduring if for no reason other than the story!

  11. It sounds like you would be wise to go alone this year!

  12. Good thing you’re skipping the date this year. Got a kick out of both of them particularly Steve and his teenage tendencies. Fun, fun story!

    • Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for reading! Yes, solo is the way to go this time, even if it means I’m giving up some choice writing material in the process.

  13. Great story! I seriously cannot believe he fell asleep. Loved the line about the fat lady warming up in the wings.

    Hope you have a wonderful solo evening this year!

    • Thank you! Yes, Rip Van Winkle remains a hall of famer among my friends. I am very much looking forward to going alone this time!!

  14. This is so funny… he followed the conversation – meaning he was always a step or two behind it. I laughed out loud. It’s often much easier to enjoy yourself at dinner parties when you don’t have to ‘take care’ of someone else. And your piano skills are enviable.

    • Thanks for reading and enjoying it!You nailed it about the benefits of going dateless to dinner parties–they’re fraught with peril, so best to go with the one person you know you can trust: you!

  15. The hole in the wall story will probably scare a lot of women away from the younger men. Gosh that must have been mortifying.

    • You’d think! Though I recently dated one myself, and I’m pleased to report that all of the drywall in my home remains intact. He did back into his own car with a U-Haul, but I’m hard pressed to blame that on youth.

  16. Sorry for what sounds like some awful times. I hope plus none turns out being more enjoyable for you. 🙂

    • Thanks, Angela! While embarrassing when they happened, these incidents made for outstanding stories that my friends and I still enjoy telling, so they were definitely good for something. If I manage to stay awake and not to destroy any property this year, I’ll consider “plus none” a raging success.

  17. Holy crap!! He fell ASLEEP?!? Sounds like he had something else going on. Like maybe sleep deprivation or a drug habit. That’s beyond the pale.

    It’s hard introducing someone new to your friends who only want the best for the person they know and love so well. It’s tough crowd in the best of times…

    • He fell asleep! At what could only be described, volume-wise, as a “fortissimo” moment. It was unbelievable. I can rule out a drug habit, always did wonder whether maybe sleep apnea was to blame. And you’re so right: the friends are terrifically, awfully, protective!

  18. Miz Yank, I laughed out loud at the “flare of the nostrils” evidencing a “nose yawn.” I’m not computer savvy enough to know how to blog or follow or whatever but I have found a way to follow you and what a delight. And, I’ll leave you with something only tangentially related to your story: A friend of mine also sent me a photo one time of a baby grand piano with a sign on it. An obviously amorous man-woman couple stood and looked at the sign with a level of disappointment. The sign said simply this: “Please don’t bang on the piano.”

    • Hi, TNT! Sorry for the slow response. I’m thrilled you found a way to follow me, lucky me! Your tangential story is hysterical. The tangential, and even the wholly irrelevant, are usually quite welcome here so feel free to share any time.


  1. […] it started, but I’m glad I did. I’m also a little surprised, considering some of the things that have gone spectacularly awry when I’ve visited. Their three kids, who were wearing footie pajamas when I first met them back in 1998, are now all […]