Expectations vs. Reality vs. Alternate Reality
Expectation: You are witty and charming beyond belief. Your hair has never looked better. You end the evening with a passionate kiss, and neither of you have bad breath.
Reality: It’s obvious that both of you are trying really hard. Half of your jokes fall flat, but to be fair, so do theirs. You exchange a friendly hug at the end of the evening.
Alternate Reality: You are a scorpion. They are a shapeless ball of light. The world has ended, but it wasn’t really there to begin with. The sex is awkward but adequate.
Expectation: You land all the questions with aplomb, You are so perfectly suited to this job, it’s almost offensive that you didn’t already have it. You are hired on the spot.
Reality: They ask you what your weaknesses are. You reply, “I’m a bit of a perfectionist.” Both of you know this answer is bullshit.
Alternate reality: Your prospective employer opens his mouth. Out comes a low creaking noise, sounding like nothing else that you’ve ever heard come out of a human. Slowly, you stand up and walk out of the room, never breaking eye contact. You didn’t really want to work in sales anyway.
High School Reunion
Expectation: All the people you hated now have crappy jobs. Your tenth grade lab partner who you were secretly in love with has only gotten hotter over the years, and confesses that they have been harbouring feelings for you this whole time, and would you maybe like to get coffee with them sometime? Yes, you answer, you would.
Reality: The only people you talk to are the friends with whom you were already keeping in touch. You all decide to duck out early and go get drunk at a nearby bar.
Alternate Reality: It’s dark, as if somebody had turned off all the lights in a windowless room. Slowly, your vision starts to adjust, and you can begin to make out figures surrounding you. A bonsai tree. A caribou. A young child with an eye patch and a cowboy hat. You smile knowingly to yourself. Everything that the mysterious old woman foretold in her prophecy is coming true. You know what comes next, and you are anything but worried. You let the darkness wash over you.
Visiting Your Family For the Holidays
Expectation: Your parents finally understand what it is you do for a living. You find your old Beanie Baby collection in the basement, and look up its value online: you’re rich. You treat your family to a ski trip in Aspen over New Years.
Reality: At first, it’s nice having somebody else cook for you, but then you get into a fight with your sister over something dumb, and storm out of the house to go read your old Sylvia Plath books at the local Denny’s, just like you did every weekend when you were seventeen.
Alternate Reality: Pretty much like the regular reality, but now everything is on fire.
Anna Fitzpatrick (@bananafitz) is a writer. Her parents are worried about her.