First MisunderestimationsJanuary 15, 2009
The odd but interesting @zolora was bored, and her brain cast out three seemingly random questions. I so enjoyed the recent #7things meme (tell us seven things about you that we don’t already know) that I agreed to answer these questions, too. This is one of three:
When has your first impression of someone been most inaccurate?
Like the Z-girl I’m not a big believer in “best,” “most,” or “favorite.” It’s hard to choose the “most,” and I often don’t see the point. But there is a recent misunderestimation that stands out clearly in my mind: @empirebetty, who I know IRL, via Twitter.
I don’t know first who followed whom. We were both looking for other local folks on Twitter, and we followed each other at about the same time. My first impression was massively inaccurate. I thought she was much, much older than she is–both physically and emotionally. As in “I was off by 30 years.” Or so.
I thought she was kind of a fogey, to tell the truth. I pictured her, on the basis of a her updates and a brief glimpse in her avatar, as in late middle age. I pictured someone not terribly happy or outgoing. Now I generally like older women, but I wasn’t terribly keen on the cross-following. I thought she might at some point chide me for not being a good enough Christian, or something like that, and I was more than ready to un-follow her at the first whiff of trouble. Just as a point of reference, my impression was that she was (at least emotionally) even older than my wife, who is 65. (Sorry, EB!)
I started to down-shift my age assumptions as I started interacting with her more directly. She started to seem more social. By the time we planned our first dinner together (EB loves to dine alfresco, so do we), I realized she probably wasn’t too far out of her 40s. Maybe mid-40s. When she arrived, I had an “oops!” moment, realizing she was probably in her 30s. Turns out, her early 30s. So that put my initial impression off by a factor of 2. My read of her emotional age was at least as far off as my physical age guess.
In my defense, I will say that EB used to be vastly more guarded and circumspect. Her “adorably obnoxious” tagline wasn’t yet so fully manifested, her nightlife and romances were not yet eagerly chronicled, and few photographs were to be seen. Her avatar and photos did not convey youth! and pizzazz! to me. Even today, she favors photos like this one from New Year’s Eve that, in my opinion, make her look much older, and from a bygone year besides. That’s OK; they make her smile. But the EB I know is more like this: vibrant, fun-loving, and more than a little devilish.