Over the last 15-18 years, I have been out hundreds of time (maybe close to a thousand now that I think about it). I have been in very wide variety of places and situations and the experiences have been almost entirely positive and fun. Indeed I can only think of one time where I had a bad experience, which I will describe below.
I have had two experiences that were so positive that I can still recall them very clearly. The first one was at a performance of the SF Symphony. I had been going out in very public settings like the Symphony only a few times and was still a little uncertain about the whole idea. Nothing bad had ever happened but it was still a bit daunting to wander among hundreds of people waiting for the symphony to start or at an intermission. For this particular evening, I was waiting in line at the box office to purchase my ticket for the evening. I usually bought inexpensive tickets and so ended up sitting up very high in the balcony. For music the upper seats are fine. As I was standing there, a nicely dressed gentleman came up to me and offer me a ticket for free. I thanked him and he offered to show me the seats. They turned out to be in about the 10th row of the orchestra. These were great seats. What was even more surprising was that the empty seat was next to him and belonged to his wife who was ill and could not attend. What was still more surprising was that we were sitting among a group of people he appeared to know well. People who get such good seats tend to be long term subscribers who hang on their seats year after year and hence this group had clearly been sitting near one another for a long time. Anyway he introduced me around and we talked with the other attendees before the concert started. Everyone I talked to treated me very nicely and made me feel accepted. It was a wonderful but slightly strange experience being the female part of a couple. It was a great affirmation for me. We talked some more at the intermission and a little after the concert and then it was time to leave. I felt great for days afterwards and it still sticks in my memory.
The other highly positive experience occurred in a tiny market near the 280 freeway ends near 6th St in San Francisco. I had just been visiting with a friend who lived nearby when I decided I wanted a soda before heading home. I found a little hole in the wall market that was run by an older Chinese lady. I stopped and went into the store and selected by soda. As I was paying for it, the lady complemented me on the skirt suit I was wearing (this was during my “dress up when going out” period). She wondered if I worked at the nearby school but I said I was in town on other business. She seemed like she wanted someone to talk to and so I decided to linger for awhile. We were soon talking about schools and children and before long we were engaged in a long and personal discussion about our respective families. She told me about her children and I told her about mine. We bemoaned the failings of our respective “husbands”. We just talked and shared and had a great time. We probably spent 30 minutes or more just chatting about life before I realized the time and had to leave. I stopped by there on subsequent occasions but I never saw her again. I still remember her with very fond memories.
In terms of not so positive experiences, I can recall only one occasion. I was attending a trade show on the East Coast for my company and decided it would be fun to attend ” en femme.” The show was not one that anyone from my company or industry would normally attend and so I felt safe going in girl mode. I dressed in a nice suit and “practical pumps” and looked the perfect businesswoman. I filled out the form to get my badge and presented it to a young woman sitting at a computer. She took it and started typing and got a bad case of the giggles. Her friend next to her wondered what was going on and they talked and the friend got the giggles too. They both occasionally glanced at me and continued with the giggles. I just stood there and waited politely for them to finish. Eventually they gave me my badge and wished me a good day. I never knew for sure that I was the source of their giggles but I strongly suspected it. As I wandered about the show I was treated well by the various booth folks and engaged in several long conversations about various topics. The only problem was at the registration desk. In retrospect, I suppose it is not really that bad of experience as the day overall went well. I could imagine much worse situations but so far that qualifies as my worst experience out.
Most of my times out are neither quite so positively memorable nor so awkward but rather like the “pleasantly boring time” I described in a recent post. Boring and uneventful are nice as that is often how normal life is.