I do not look like a Lucy. I know this because everyone is always telling me “You do not look like a Lucy.” Even my parents, as if it’s somehow my fault they named me incorrectly. They could have gone with Lucille that might have worked. But no, they had to go with Lucy. I once considered legally changing my name to Lucille, or even becoming a Jolene or an Emily, but I’ve stubbornly held on to Lucy just out of spite.
I am not petite like the name would suggest. I stand tall and straight at 5’9 and I am definitely not thin, my diet of burgers and beer have thickened my waistline and fleshed out my cheeks and it is only the Zumba classes I take three times a week that stop me from becoming completely round. I do not have blonde locks and there are no strawberry tones in my hair. In fact, my hair is a rather dull ash brown with no sparkle or glimmer added and I always wear it pulled back in the same mid-length pony tail, never high enough to suggest any kind of perkiness and never so low as to appear lazy.
My features are not pretty or even unusual. They are just simple features, not even plain and simple as plain might at least be interesting. Eyes, a nose, and lips all nothing special. One summer I got freckles which sent me over the moon but it never happened again.
I don’t have an “easy manner” and I am absolutely horrid at telling jokes. I usually forget the punchline or invert the words and I always end up laughing hysterically to myself before even finishing telling the joke which inevitably leads to letdown. Apparently the joke is never as funny as I think it is.
And even worse than my joke telling talents are my small talk skills.
I loathe small talk and envy to the point of disdain people who are good at having conversations about nothing. In my first year of university I actually carried cue cards but rather than being the endearing visual I thought it would be they just made every situation stunningly awkward, especially since I usually dropped them.
The only friend I made at university was the only person who stopped to help me pick up the cue cards. We still talk on occasion, though she is married now which somehow makes us lesser friends. There is some kind of barrier between awkward single girls and their happily married friends, a mixture of pity and envy and swirling discomfort that just makes it impossible to stay close.
But back to the inappropriateness of my name. Lucy.
In high school, when I got a job and was finally able to buy my own clothes, I went through an uncomfortable gothic punk phase, uncomfortable both because of the leather pants and doc martens, and because of how terribly awkward I was at being “edgy”. I figured if I couldn’t be the perky Lucy everyone expected at least I could be rockabilly cool. I was desperate to be the next Betty Page or … I actually don’t know any of the names of famous pin up girls aside from Betty Page.
The phase didn’t last long though I often think of it fondly.
Still I am a happy woman despite my misleading name and my social ineptitude.
Tonight I am even going on a date with a man I met online, Jamie Wardman. Jamie works in IT for a company I have never heard of but immediately Googled. He is thirty three which makes me wonder why he is still single (though at thirty one I suppose I shouldn’t judge) but he has a nice smile and, judging by his profile pictures, likes to wear plaid.
I love a man in plaid.
It is our first date and we are meeting for dinner at a brew pub close to my home. The location was a complete coincidence as Jamie does not know where I live (I hope) and I wholeheartedly approve of the choice.
More than I love a man in plaid I love a man who can appreciate a good brew pub.
We have been talking for weeks and I am actually looking forward to the date quite a bit. I have even memorized some conversation pieces, nothing too heavy like religion or politics and nothing too broad like sports or the weather, but a few gems I picked up while doing quizzes on Buzzfeed. Cute facts I can throw out into the conversation (“Did you know that platypus are actually poisonous?”) to make myself seem both knowledgeable and worldly.
I even printed off our emails for study earlier today, going over and over what we’ve talked about and analyzing each punctuation mark for its significance (He said: “I am looking forward to our date!”, that has to be good).
In short I am so ready for this.
I arrive right on time never quite sure of the protocol on first dates. Is it best to arrive first and be already seated when he arrives? Or should I breeze in a few minutes late to exude a busy and not-too-eager air?
Jamie is there, seated at a table near the back. He looks nervous and is fidgeting a bit. I smile and wait for his eyes to fall on me, walking towards him.
Finally we make eye contact and he half stands before frowning slightly, not his lips mind you, just that slight furrowing of the brow when you are thinking hard. I make it to the table before he has to decide whether or not to stand up.
I stealthily wipe my hand on my coat as I fold it before reaching over to shake his hand. There is nothing worse than sweaty palms.
“Hi Jamie,” I say as I take a seat. There is already water in front of us and I wonder how long he has been here and am thankful that I did not try to arrive early. That would have been awkward, both of us arriving ages before the date even starts.
Jamie shifts in his seat bumping into the table as he does and causing the water to slosh in the glasses. He flushes a deep red and stammers a quiet apology. I feel myself smiling.
This is why he is single.
My heart sings, he is like me!
After a few stops and starts the conversation finally starts to flow and it is like our email conversations, polite and exuberant. Jamie loves my facts about platypus and he tells a charming anecdote about his attempt at home brewing a nice Berliner Weisse.
“I would love to try it one day”, I tell him while attempting a coy smile that my subconscious is sure looks like the Station Inspector’s smiles from the movie ‘Hugo’, ill-fitted and slightly disturbing. I tell my sub-conscious to can it.
He smiles back.
At the end of the date we slowly walk towards to door of the pub, he puts his hand on the small of my back then pulls it back, then puts it there again.
Finally when we are outside the pub he looks at me and smiles.
“You do notlook like a Lucy.” Jamie says and my smile begins to falter. “I am so glad.” He whispers, leaning in for a soft kiss.
For the first time in thirty one years I am thrilled to not look like a Lucy.