Since Deb Rachel’s book is all about her year of friend dates, I thought I’d share the story of MY first friend date with her! (Jealous? You will be once you read her book!)
Deb Date #1: Rachel
In October, Rachel emails me about getting together. We’ve been emailing ever since the announcement of the 2012 Class of Debs, but we’ve never met in person. She lives in a neighborhood a few miles south of mine, but offers to come up and meet me. I tell her I’d love to meet, and suggest she join me at The Book Cellar, my favorite local bookstore, for “Witty Women Writers” night. Some friends of mine are reading, and I offer to introduce Rachel around, assuming that — even though her year of friend dates is officially over — she’s probably still interested in expanding her network of fellow writers. (Plus, my friends are awesome — who wouldn’t want to meet them?)
Rachel emails back and says the Witty Women Writers night sounds great. We agree to get a drink after the reading, and I promise to help Rachel “awkwardly network” (her words!).
Ten minutes later, she emails me again to tell me she CAN’T come to the reading, because she has to work that night and totally spaced. “Can we do lunch on Friday after all?”
An hour after THAT, I get another email from her, says she’s gotten excused from her shift, so she can join me after all. “I swear I’m not usually this scattered,” she says.
Oh boy. I’m starting to get worried — who is this girl? What have I gotten myself into? Is she going to be super high-maintenance and spazzy? Do I need to make an exit plan in case things are really awkward?
I promise to save Rachel a seat, but even though I arrive at the bookstore almost an hour early, it’s already standing-room only. I feel bad, but claim a spot in the way back, so at least we can lean against the counters. This also gives me the added benefit of being near the door, so I can flag her down when she arrives. I start worrying about whether or not I’ll recognize her — a few months ago I took an online test to judge face-blindness, and I didn’t score very well. Even though I’ve seen her adorable picture on the blog a million times, I wonder if I’ll know her in person. (Side note: last year I met 2011 Deb Eleanor in person and had to pick her out of a crowd with only her author photo to guide me. It was a stressful endeavor and basically ended with me shouting “ARE YOU ELEANOR?” at random women in the room, which turned out to be an effective, if rather embarrassing, strategy. FYI, Eleanor in person is very pretty and very tall!)
Luckily, I recognize Rachel the second she walks through the door, even though she tries to trick me by wearing giant glasses. We do the semi-awkward “We’ve never met but I feel like I kind of know you” hug, and I start introducing her around. “This is Rachel! She has a book coming out! It’s about friends!”
After the reading, Rachel and I go out for a beer, and end up talking non-stop for the next three or four hours. Success! Virtual friendship CAN translate into real friendship! When I (finally) get home around midnight, I can’t stop gushing about how cute Rachel is, and mention something about how I was worried that she would be super spazzy and awkward. My wife interrupts me: “Wait, YOU were worried SHE would be spazzy and awkward? HAVE YOU EVER MET YOURSELF?”
My question for the lovely and not-really-as-awkward-as-she-claims Deb Rachel: As a fiction writer, I find the ending to be the easiest part of a story — by the end, you know how your character’s changed and the ending feels somewhat inevitable. I imagine this is somewhat trickier in non-fiction, when you’re bound by the constraints of what actually happened. Particularly in the case of your book, when you were writing the book as you went through your year of friend-making — when did you start thinking about the ending? Did you worry that maybe nothing would change? Did you have a plan in case you didn’t end up with a satisfying ending?
Rachel: When proposing this book, I knew that one of the trickiest things about selling editors and publishers on the story was that there was no guaranteed ending. Professionals in the industry would have reservations about putting money into a book when they had no idea what the final story would be. And an ending that landed with a thud–“and then the year was over and that was it”–wouldn’t cut it.
Going into 2010, I was confident that no matter what happened at the end of the year, something would happen. You can’t meet that many new people and have nothing change. So when I proposed MWF Seeking BFF, I presented to publishers what I thought could happen. I could have a new BFF. I could have 52 acquaintances and realize the BFFs we make as kids just don’t exist in adulthood. I could realize that with a husband, a job, and a family I see often, friends aren’t as important anymore. I could decide it’s totally fine to have best friends come in the form of family. Or decide that long-distance pals are just as good as local ones.
So, to answer your question, I considered the end from the very beginning. But, pretty early on, I could tell the experience was going to change my life here in Chicago. I knew that there would at least be a personal evolution from beginning to end–whether or not I found The One.
Thanks, Rachel! And CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!
28 Replies to “MWF Seeking BFF Launch Week: Deb Molly’s Friend Date with Deb Rachel”
Oh, I AM jealous! That sounds like a fantastic friend date. Too bad it didn’t happen in time to make it into the book. 🙂
Right? Our total chemistry would have made for some great girl-date fodder.
I have to confess I’m rather relieved it didn’t! I prefer to be on this side of the keyboard. 🙂
I’m jealous, too! And that you live so close and can hang out an any time?! TOTALLY jealous. Thanks for sharing the date with us – it’s like a nice add on to the book! Congrats again, Rachel -I’m eager to hear about your launch day.
We’re pretty lucky to be so close. We’ve even had our second date already! And I’ll write about it tomorrow but launch day was, to put it mildly, THE BEST. I can’t wait for you to have yours Joanne!
Come on down, Joanne! Deb Date #3!!
Super cool! I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention to notice that you guys were both in Chicago. Fun times!!!
Yeah, it’s pretty fun that we’re only a couple of neighborhoods apart!
Which is very convenient for me, as I tend not to leave my neighborhood ever. 🙂
Trying to locate authors by their promo photos has become a sport with me. My apologies for all the PhotoShop that probably made it more difficult to find me.
And thanks for the compliment. You, Elizabeth, and I were probably the tallest panel at the festival. We should have hired a barker to stand outside and announce it as such.
So glad you and Rachel did get together!
I think my photo looks like me, but only on the days that I’ve actually showered in the morning and put product in my hair and makeup on. Which, now that I work from home and am typing this wearing my new flannel PJs (Hanukkah present!), is rare.
Hope to one day meet you too Eleanor!
Ah, but luckily you have a unique identifying feature – fabulous hair! Most of us are not so lucky. My author photo doesn’t show how tall I am, which is kind of my only unique feature. Maybe my next one should be next to one of those kiddie “YOU MUST BE THIS TALL” ride yardsticks.
Your hope may just come true next year – I’ll keep you posted!
Eleanor, are you coming to AWP?
Nope, but I should be there around the same time. I’ll let you know soon!
Yes! And Elizabeth should prominently feature her cowboy boots in every author photo. And I should have an author photo taken in this decade. 🙂
Thanks Molly! I don’t blame you for worrying that I was super spazzy. I was so embarrassed to plan, then cancel, then plan again! Not a good first impression. Basically I had my shift, then decided meeting my fellow Deb was TOO important, blah blah… Thanks for still having a play date with me.
Things you forgot to mention: The TATER TOTS! Delish. Also that after we went to the bar, when I drove you home and you were about to get out, we ended up sitting in the car for another 25 minutes trading publishing stories! That is friendship.
Just another reason I’m glad to be a deb. That, and awkwardly networking.
OH! The tater tots were divine! And yes, we did the midwestern goodbye, where you say goodbye and then talk for another half hour. Always a good sign!!
I also wanted to work in our last date at the sushi bar where I kept trying to bury my face in the fancy warm hand-towel, because it was so cold outside. Speaking of social awkwardness….
I’m still giggling at “ARE YOU ELEANOR?”
It’s hard to be a Molly, sometimes.
I’ve already ordered Rachel’s book and can’t wait to read it.
Even tho I’m a thousand years older, (lol) lemme tell ya, it’s hard to
make new friends when you move! I have one local BFF now, but the
rest & the best are from high school daze in other towns! We’re now
scattered over the globe, but pick up conversations where we left off,
just like nothing happened in between!
This post was so fun, thanks Molly and Rachel! Oh, I’m going to adopt
(aka *steal*) “Are you Eleanor?” Hilarious.
Happy Holidays, y’all.
I love the idea of people just yelling “ARE YOU ELEANOR?” randomly. Thanks, Lynn!
Thanks Lynn! I have heard from women of all ages that they’ve had the same troubles finding BFFs. It’s nice to know I’m not alone… And also scary to know it doesn’t get easier!
Um, YEAH, I’m jealous!!
I love this question, Molly–almost as much as I love the details of your friend date with Rachel. And I LOVE your wife’s response. That’s exactly what my husband would have said. My sister and I actually invented a word for our condition when we were in high school. We are spazchickens. Don’t ask, but it stuck. It can be used as a noun, verb, adverb, whatever you wish.
Jealous too that you’ve met Eleanor! I’m still pushing for a Deb reunion, you know…
Ha! That made me laugh out loud. Spazchicken. Hilarious!
I am strongly in favor of a Deb Party…. in Chicago? We’ll throw in local Friend Of Debs Kelly O’Connor McNees to sweeten the pot….!
Chicago is really the perfect spot–besides being a GRAND place, it boasts so many Debs and Deb Pals–we have our location, ladies…now we just need to work on the date…Good thing we still have many more months to plan!!
Chicago does summer very well. HINT. HINT.
SPAZCHICKEN! Erika, can that be my new pet name for you??
You bet! It’s addictive, be warned 😉
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