Lessons Learned From Running Into An Ex Looking Like Something My Cat Coughed Up: A True Story
Running into an ex looking your absolute WORST = Every girl’s nightmare.
I should start this tale with the disclaimer that every word of this is a true story. I realize it sounds like a sitcom, but everything I’m about to share with you did, in fact, happen.
A couple of weeks ago I traveled to Virginia Beach with my parents to tape The 700 Club. I was extremely excited to get to share my new book with their viewership, but at the same time, I was absolutely terrified at the thought of “live national television.” I tend to get very anxious under any type of circumstances that involve public speaking…and this was public speaking that would be broadcast out to literally MILLIONS of people LIVE! No room for error! So you can imagine the nerves that I was experiencing.
As a result of the anxiety about my TV appearance, the craziness of my schedule following my book release, and the overall stress and lack of sleep that comes from traveling, my face decided that the week I was going to be on national television for the first time would also be a GREAT week to break out like I was a 13-year-old girl going through puberty. One unsightly blemish, in particular, was hovering on my right cheek and looked not unlike I was growing a second nose. I should mention that my face RARELY breaks out. At age 34, I like to think I’ve finally evolved past the days of Clearasil. Yet…my body rebelled against me and sent my face into a tailspin, which sent me into a tailspin, which resulted in me stalking dermatologists in Virginia Beach until I found one that could see me in a pinch and give me a shot that would deflate the horrifying growth on my face and return me to a camera-ready state.
It’s worth noting that the dermatologist who saw me, Virginia Dermatology, was wonderful. They got me in lightning fast, took care of my blemish just as quickly, and sent me on my merry way. Only one problem. They sent me on my merry way with a GIANT bandage on my face. Which I handled a lot better than one might expect, my reasoning being this: I was in Virginia Beach, where I knew no one. What did it matter if I frolicked around town with half my face concealed like Hannibal Lechter?
I should mention that my trip to Virginia Beach was precisely and exactly two years to the very day since my last trip to Virginia Beach, when I had traveled there with two girlfriends to attend Donnie Wahlberg’s birthday party at a beach club that we’ll call the Virginia Beach Town Center. Yes, I have a lifelong love of the New Kids on the Block, and a particular affinity for Donnie, so traveling eleven or twelve hours to see him and celebrate his birthday was not out of the ordinary for me. At least at that time in my life. I mean…what is singleness for, if not to seize the day and take random road trips with your friends to see teen idols you’ve loved for the greater part of your life?
At Donnie’s party two years ago, I struck up a harmless flirtation with a guy who worked at the Town Center, which carried over to the day after the party, when he hung out on the beach with me and my friends. Once I got home, I never really thought of him or heard from him again, and I honestly can’t even remember his name now. The extent of our “relationship” was a few hours of chitchat on the beach, so I didn’t harbor any fantasies that this was anything other than a fun, innocent, momentary flirtation. (Who doesn’t love one of those?) I never expected to see the guy again. But as my life often does…things were about to come full circle in the most hilarious, colorful, unbelievable way.
Fast forward to two years later…I’m strolling around Virginia Beach with my parents with the massive bandage on my face, not the slightest bit phased by the odd glances I’m getting by passersby. My parents and I popped in one restaurant to look at the dinner menu but decided against it, settling instead on a beachside grill a little further down the strip. I was sitting there in all my bandaged confidence, daring anyone to look at me funny…when all of a sudden…from the back of the restaurant…comes bopping by our table…are you ready for it?
THE GUY FROM TWO YEARS EARLIER. My Harmless Crush. My Momentary Flirtation. Working in a completely different restaurant from two years prior…and it just so happened that his new career opportunity and greener pastures had by some freakish coincidence carried him to the very restaurant that my parents and I had randomly and arbitrarily picked to eat at. As I sat there with a giant bandage covering a giant blemish that had not only not yet shrunk, it had actually ballooned up even larger since my visit to the dermatologist a few hours before. I was a walking Rudolph the Red Zit Reindeer and a guy I once harbored at least a fleeting attraction to had a front row seat to the entire debacle. Unless I could avoid having him spot me…
Without any explanation to my parents sitting across the table from me, I dropped to the side and slithered down into my seat like a wet noodle. If you need a better illustration: I was literally lying in the booth on my right side with my bandaged face pressed to the seat. My mom and dad dropped their menus and peered over the table to see where I had disappeared to.
“Mandy, what are you doing?” My dad asked in concern. (I should also mention he said it rather loudly. Too loudly. Even though I couldn’t remember Harmless Crush’s name, who’s to say he couldn’t remember MINE?!)
“SHHHHHHH!” I hissed from the safety of my hiding spot. “Be quiet! I can’t let him see me!”
“WHO?!?” my dad bellowed. “Who can’t you let see you?” I think he and my mom were starting to worry that the anxiety and stress of my upcoming TV appearance had finally sent me over the edge.
I looked up to see if Harmless Crush had moved out of my line of site before slowly, inch by inch, raising myself back up to a sitting position. “Remember the guy from two years ago who I met at Donnie’s party and had a crush on? THAT’S him!” I gestured wildly in the direction where Harmless Crush had walked.
Not a good move.
My mom and dad both shot to attention, staring eagerly in the direction I had pointed. “Where?” my mom asked, with far too much excitement in her voice. “No way! Are you sure?!? I want to see him!”
“Nooooo!” I whispered in horror. “You’re going to draw attention to us. I can’t see a guy who I once had a crush on looking like a reject from the set of the The Walking Dead!”
My parents continued to crane their necks like turtles to see Harmless Crush. Just then, he came walking back in the opposite direction from where he had appeared a few moments earlier. I grabbed the nearest menu and ducked covertly behind it, sneaking a peek above it to watch him walk by. My parents guffawed. For some reason, their daughter living out a shenanigan that rivaled an episode of I Love Lucy had really tickled their funny bones.
Though I spent more time UNDER the table than ABOVE it that day (and I did manage to sneak out of the restaurant after dinner, unseen by Harmless Crush)…I had to shake my head and marvel at the coincidence of walking into the ONE restaurant in Virginia Beach where the only person I knew in town happened to work. At the ONE time that I really didn’t want to see anyone I knew…let alone someone I once had a brief crush on. And since I seem to have these type of “Full Circle Moments” all the time, and I believe firmly that ALL Full Circle Moments are meant to teach us a powerful lesson, I had to ask myself what it was I was meant to learn from this experience. And you know what I came up with?
Sometimes in life, I believe God gives us a glimpse into our past to show us how far we’ve come in the present and increase our faith about the future. To help us see how much we’ve grown and changed and evolved. To give us a little pat on the back allowing us to see that where we once WERE is no longer where we ARE. Granted, my crush on a random waiter at a restaurant in Virginia Beach wasn’t something I was ashamed of by any means, as I hadn’t done anything to compromise myself or my belief system. However, in the two years since I visited Virginia Beach the first time, my standards for myself, my life, and the kind of relationship I hope to attract have raised, by leaps and bounds. I don’t feel the need to engage in harmless flirtations with men who I know nothing about anymore. I don’t have any interest in spending time with a man who I don’t know for a fact is madly in love with God. And I don’t want any relationship, no matter how brief or innocent or insignificant, that isn’t 100%, completely God-centered. So while I loved God and was living my life at an average or even above-average level two years ago…I was also willing to settle for less than His best. Fast forward two years, and settling isn’t even on my menu. (Not even the one I ducked behind at the restaurant.) So while seeing a guy who I once had a crush on while sporting a ginormous bandage on my face was humbling and embarrassing and definitely a chapter in my story I could have lived without, it also bolstered my faith and gave me a really eye-opening glimpse into how far I’ve come over the past two years. And I guess sometimes God’s best lessons come dressed as humbling and embarrassing and unwanted. But I’ll still take ‘em, in whatever form they happen to arrive at my door. Won’t you?
Since I’m sure you’re wondering…the blemish on my face vanished and the bandage came off just in time for my appearance on The 700 Club. Much like most of the tough lessons in our life do when we’re open to learning what they came to teach us. And somewhere in a restaurant in Virginia Beach, my Harmless Crush still works. While elsewhere on the planet, the Great Love of My Life is loving God and waiting and trusting for His perfect timing to bring him the Great Love of His Life. And you know what? Holding out for the Great Love is My Life is more than worth giving up a few Harmless Crushes along the way to me. I do like to think whoever and wherever my Great Love is…even a giant bandage on my face wouldn’t deter him from making me his. Because, after all…we all have our own unique blemishes and bandages and wounds we’ve acquired on our journey; but the ones who are meant to be a part of our lives will always look past them to the heart underneath.
I wanna hear about your funniest, most embarrassing encounters with an ex. Comment below!