Failing Gracefully at Making Friends: The BBQ

It’s hard to make friends. It is even harder to make friends when you move to a new town. It’s incrementally harder to make friends in a new town when you are a working mom. 

We moved to a nice block. The dream scenario. Cozy house with a porch at the end of a cul de sac. Neighbors with children of all genders and ages. So you can imagine our excitement when said neighbors invited us to a BBQ/pool party over the summer. 

What do we bring? Something thoughtful that says we appreciate the invite, without making it look like we tried too hard. Wine, yes, wine will most certainly do. Rosé all the way!

More importantly, what will I wear? The kids will be swimming- that’s obviously not for me, it’s a dad duty. As a corporate slave most of the week, I have some great suits and shift dresses, but my weekend wardrobe pales in comparison to the women in town. The local boutiques all close before my train pulls into the station, and I am not up on what all the other moms are styling these days. And of course, I don’t want to look like I am trying too hard.

It’s hot, so hot in the dead of August. The curls in my hair are rebelling against the flat iron. My makeup melts on my sticky face. But my outfit felt right. I threw on my new Lululemon pants and t-shirt that all the ladies have been wearing on the sports fields, the cute yet practical and chic look that kept me cool in Disneyworld. I feel good, like a regular, casual, gal. 

We walk into the backyard smiling and carefree with the whole brood and see- what? A fashion show? The women here- most of whom I don’t know well outside Facebook- are runway ready. Rompers, cold shoulders, hats, sleek shades, perfectly bouncy hair, fresh glowing skin. How did I get this so wrong? I slump, deflate, shrink back toward the gate. I tell Gull audibly I need to go home and change because like the martyr I am, I got the kids dressed first so we could be on time and now I need to run (ok drive) back down the block to get out of these putrid house clothes. 

I fly upstairs and into my bedroom with gusto, gulping air to keep from sobbing with embarrassment. I tear through my closet looking for something appropriate but there’s nothing-NOTHING! I try to put together something fashiony but that simply isn’t a gene I was born with. So I settle on a cotton Gap dress, some wedges, and head back out the door.

I park the car once again and give myself a pep talk. I check out my frizzfest in the side mirror before I march back up the driveway, and it’s all wrong. Who am I trying to impress? This isn’t right, this isn’t me, and it’s not nearly nice enough vs the glam show back there anyway. Mind lost, I go home once again. I put on my finest athleisure duds with flair and tell myself I am going on to own it. 

With more resolve this time, I go back to the BBQ sweatier and decidedly unchanged and explain (to no one again because my absence wasn’t noticed) that Lark needed a bathing suit (lame because she was already wearing it!). I put my insecurities behind me and start chatting up some dads playing cornhole. I play in the grass with Sparrow and sit Indian style while the other moms soak through their silk and fuss with their halters. Who’s coveting whose outfit now?!

At one point before lunch, I notice another woman dressed just like me! Headband, sneakers and everything! Alas, my soul sister. I feel vindicated and relieved and about to meet my new best friend when she turns around and I realize she is passing hors d’oevres. Yes, I played who wore it better with the housekeeper.

And you know what? She totally did. But we had a great time and even got invited back the next year. You can bet your sangria I went overdressed and ready to vogue with the best of them. And we have  real friends who don’t actually care what I’m wearing. 

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