I don't know if it's like this for anyone else, but every time I ask a new friend if she wants to get together, I feel like I'm asking her out on a date. In high school and college, it was easy to casually hang out because you're all kinda just lumped together. But now, you have to actually say, "Hey, I've been wanting to try this new restaurant. Want to check it out with me this weekend?" And then that's usually followed with: "I mean, if you want to. But if you're busy, I totalllly understand. I know it's kind of last-minute notice, so it's no biggie if you can't."
This is also true with people in the industry I want to network with. One PR girl I worked with a few years ago found my blog somehow (love when that happens!) and emailed me. She lost her job recently too, so I asked her if she wanted to meet for dinner to catch up. We met at an Asian restaurant called Republic in Union Square last night, and I totally felt like I was on a blind date. (We had only worked together via email so I didn't know what she looked like). She had told me what she was wearing in an email, but once I got there, nerves set in as I surveyed the restaurant trying to figure out who she was. After a little searching, we found each other. Phew. She was really friendly and totally looked like Jordana Brewster's younger sister. Any guy would have been more than happy with this date!
We had a great time talking, and when my beef/tomato noodle stew arrived, I realized I probably didn't order the best "date" meal. The noodles were really long, and I didn't have a knife to cut them, so I had to try to saw them with my chopstick. There were a few embarrassing moments where the noodles were hanging out of my mouth and I had to quickly suck them up, but I don't think I made too much of a scene.
While the conversation flowed easily, I still found myself stressing about what to talk about next a few times because I'm not totally comfortable with silence. I asked her every possible question I could think of, and somehow we even got on the topic of her favorite underwear! (Hanky Panky is my fave, too ;). It's been such a long time since I've been on a first "date" with anyone, so it was definitely good practice for keeping my conversational skills sharp.
I had a lot of fun on my "date," and I think there might be a second one. Whether you're networking or just trying to make a new friend, does anyone else feel like they have to practically ask someone on a date in order to hang out?