A few months ago, after school drop-off, I was walking to grab coffee with my friends Andy and Izzy. It was one of those perfect spring mornings — birds chirping, flowers blooming — when I suddenly heard my name: “Joanna Goddard.”
I looked up, and there he was, standing on the sidewalk: the guy I had dated for five years in my twenties. He reached out for a hug, and time slowed to a crawl as I took mental stock of my outfit (jacket, sweater, and sweatpants, blarg) and rearranged my face into what I imagined was a neutral expression (below).
My exact expression.
“How’s it going?” he asked, unfortunately looking great with windswept hair and a gray sweater. “Pretty good,” I replied and introduced my friends. Just then, a man walked by with a fluffy dog, and I saw my escape hatch: I leaned down to pet the dog, smiled over my shoulder, and called out, “Well…see you later!”
As we headed toward the café, Andy, Izzy and I resumed our previous chat about kids and TV shows and books, and I mentally congratulated myself on being so poised and, dare I say, elegant during a potentially awkward encounter.
I obviously hadn’t been.
Later in the day, while taking a work break, I texted Andy and Izzy to let them in on my big secret. Here are the texts that ensued:
Me: Guys, you know how we ran into that guy on the corner
And we said hi and I hugged him
That was my ex!
At least I wasn’t in sweats with wet hair and no makeup
Oh right I WAS!
Andy: I suspected that’s who it was!!
Izzy: I knew that was your ex!!!
He has ex written all over him!
Me: Omg hahahaha what
Did you pick up on my trapped animal vibes
Izzy: 100% very much yes
Me: Why??? How???
Wow you guys didn’t miss a beat
Izzy: That interaction could only mean one thing
Me: You mean casually diving into a strangers dog?
Andy: For me it was his expression
And the way he said your first and last name
Izzy: Yes tbh his expression read as “We have definitely had sex before”
Oops, haha, I hadn’t fooled anyone. As my friend Lina says, “People are more transparent than they think.”
What about you? Where have you bumped into exes? Please tell me you were smoother than I was.
P.S. 10 reader comments on breakups, and seeing my body with fresh eyes.