Are there times when you meet someone and you know within a relatively short period of time that you can be friends with this person, that you will probably laugh at the same jokes, read the same books, and, in time, share fairly intimate details of your deepest, darkest character flaws and secret cravings with them? Some people talk of “chemistry”, some people refer to them as “kindred spirits”. My old roommate used to refer to someone like that as “one of US”, with a knowing look on her face – like we were about to become partners in crime and would be forever bonded by our secret guilt. I mentioned that same phenomenon when I talked about the dinner party last month – when seven women who didn’t really know each other before bonded like old pals over wine and barbecued shrimp. After a chance encounter at our party in the Spring, they just KNEW they could be friends and they KNEW which other women could fit neatly into our little circle even though they were virtual strangers to the rest of us.

I love it when that happens. Today I had lunch with “one of US”. I don’t know her very well, but I think we both sensed that we could and should be friends. She’s a journalist with CBC and in my years of media relations I’ve come into contact with her on a number of occasions. Up until recently, however, the extent of our conversation consisted mainly of the story she was working on for the evening news. A couple of weeks ago, I bumped into her and her husband and little girl at the BDI (local ice cream joint). We struck up a conversation, hit it off fairly quickly, and I suggested we get together for lunch.

I knew I hadn’t been mistaken in my assessment of her when she sat down, looked at the menu and said “you know it’s usually polite to order something light like soup and a salad when you’re lunching with female friends you don’t know very well, but I’m hungry, so I’m going for a burger and fries”. And I said “well then, let’s just dispense with the formalities of politeness and order whatever the heck we want!” We both agreed to skip over the low-fat section of the menu – I indulged in coconut chicken fingers.

Turns out I was right when I suspected she was a kindred spirit. We have a lot of the same interests (I didn’t ask what she’s been reading lately, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be too far off my book list), we find the same parenting issues challenging, we both get tired of managing whiny sensitive people, we both wish sometimes that we had thicker skin and petty insults wouldn’t bother us so much, and we’re both wondering how much longer we want to be “career-driven” working moms. Feels a little like wrapping an old familiar blanket around your shoulders when you meet someone with whom you can relax like that. Thanks J!

I have another possibility of making new friends tonight. I’m really excited about the invitation I got from one of the editors of Cahoots. (They published an article of mine a little while ago. A GREAT magazine! For those budding writers who responded to my publishing post, you should send them stuff!) She’s going to be in town for a few days and has invited all of the women from Winnipeg who’ve written for the magazine to join her for coffee and dessert. There are at least three of us joining her for cheesecake. (There you go – another woman who suggested we meet over a decadent dessert rather than polite rabbit food – must be kizmet!) What fun! An evening with fun and interesting fellow writers. I feel so lucky. I’m a little bit nervous, because all I know of these women is what they’ve written. Will I like them? Will they like me? Will we bond over our common passion for writing? Will I embarrass myself by telling irrelevant stories while their eyes gloss over with boredom? Will they all be thin and pretty with well-put-together lives and I’ll feel fat, ordinary, and scatter-brained? Will I drop a big blob of cheesecake on my ample chest and have to sit there with a stain on my shirt for the rest of the evening?

Okay, so I’m not really THAT worried (or insecure). Mostly I’m excited. I can usually hold my own in a conversation, and I only occasionally tell boring irrelevant stories (mostly I reserve those for my blog and subject you poor souls to them – nyuck, nyuck!)

Sometimes I wish I could meet some of you, my blog friends. I just know we could bond over a good plate of fries or cheesecake! And if you dropped cheesecake on your shirt, I promise I’d drop some on mine too so we’d be on equal footing. (Which reminds me of a story I once heard of the Queen of England. Apparently she was dining with dignitaries from various countries, and when one of the people unknowingly drank from the finger bowl, she did the same thing. Sounds like a classy thing to do!)

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