I am bad at first impressions.

Rogers-Will-LOCYou never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

— Will Rogers,
American cowboy, vaudeville performer, humorist, social commentator and motion picture actor.

While this may well be true, I find myself unable to make a good first impression. Possibly, this has always been the case. But surely since I met my wife.

In fact, I don’t even remember the first time I met her, possibly this was for the best, as it allowed me to feel like I got that elusive second chance at a first impression. But more on that in another post.

Today, I want to share about the first time I met my wife’s cousin, Allison.

DeAnne and I were still dating, and I was invited to her extended family get-together over the 4th of July. It was a good time with lots of food and I got to learn a bit more about the family that I was hoping to be part of someday. On the way down, DeAnne was telling me about some of the family members that we would meet, but I think she talked most about her cousin Allison.

Allison, or Ali, had grown up near my wife’s family when they were both young. Being the cousin nearest in age, they were good friends, but sometime in there, Ali and her family moved to North Carolina. They stayed close though, seeing each other at family gatherings like the one to which we were headed.

I don’t remember if we were instantly beset by the excited shrieks of long overdue, cousinly hellos, or if that came later, but I remember the introductory conversation that I had with Allison.

“It’s so good to meet you,” said Ali. “DeAnne says that you are a really good boyfriend.”

“I try,” I said. “She has a lot of nice things to say about you too.”

“Of course,” said Ali, “if you want to be with my cousin, you’ll have to get my approval first. What do you do?”

“I work at a bookstore, running the music department,” I said. “It’s a good job and I like the people that I work with. How about you? What do you do?”

“I’m thinking about going into Nucular Medicine,” she said.

“Oh, do you mean Nu-cle-ar Medicine? I’ve never head of that, but I’m pretty sure that it is pronounced Nu-cle-ar, not Nuke-U-Ler. Maybe if you can’t pronounce it, you should look at a different field of study.”

“Wow, ouch,” she said. “Well, it was nice to finally meet you.”

“Likewise,” I said, and went off to make a bad impression on someone else.

Just recently, Ali told me that my comments that day struck home, and she stopped pursuing a career in Nuclear Medicine. She now works at a Dentist’s office and I’m pretty sure that she is happy with what she does. All the same, I feel a bit horrible for being so offensive to someone who my wife values so much, especially since I was horrible enough to change the trajectory of her life’s work.

468px-Gypsy_WomanA while back I mentioned that I keep a book where I write down ideas for characters. I realized this past week that one of those character ideas was much more autobiographical than I thought when I wrote it down. The character was a guy who was cursed by a gypsy to only make really bad first impressions. The gypsy saw herself as doing the guy a favor, because anyone who could be friends with him after such a bad first impression was likely to be a true friend. Anyway, I just realized that I was writing about myself. Unfortunately, I also appear to be the gypsy.

Anyway, sorry Ali. And thank you to all of my true friends who are able to look past the horrible first impression that I made.


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