She was getting ready for her date with The Cattleman when the email  from the Second Trombone arrived.

She called me.

“What do you think this means? He says he is not what I think he is but he also thinks that I am not what I think I am.” She was choosing earrings, slicking on lipstick. “And then he says he will watch my future career with interest.”

“Hmmm… Does he know you think he’s a loser?”

“Well, he’s been telling me for a while now that he isn’t a loser.”

“Never attractive.”

“No, but I guess he realized that I was thinking that. But what does he mean about my not being what I think I am?”

“Well, does he know that you think you’re pretty hot stuff?”

“Sure. He has met me.”

“Well, then, I think you’re being insulted. I am not quite sure what he is saying, but I think it is intended to be an insult.” I glanced critically at the growing lattice, trying to decide whether to repeat the error I had made on the first sock so they would match. “On the other hand, I think you can count that as his having broken up with you, so now you don’t have to bother doing it.”

“That is a plus.” Rustling sounds ensued. “I’m wearing that new dress you picked out for me. It is ver’ cute.”

“I bet. Are you going to tell the Cattleman about the email? As a funny story?”

“Not on the first date. But you know, it isn’t the Second Trombone’s job to break up with me. I was hardly even dating him. He was still on probation, and it didn’t look like he was going to make it.”

The conversation made me think about how people behave when they fear rejection.

They parade all their least attractive qualities before their potential rejector. They get angry and say bitter things, trying to hurt that person before that person can hurt them. They scramble to be the rejector instead of the rejectee.

And maybe I should even say “we” instead of “they.” It is years since I had anything but an abstract interest in dating, but we all face the possibility of rejection in our lives. People who don’t want to be our friends, people who don’t want to hire us, people who don’t accept our opinions.

If we developed gracious responses to rejection, we might be bolder in our lives.