First impressions really do matter. Ask anyone. And flubbed first impressions can come back to haunt you. Forever.

In my extreme youth, I decided to travel to an all inclusive resort in Jamaica for a vacation. By myself. What a great opportunity to meet new friends, especially, the agent told me, since most of the resort visitors would be German tourists! First morning, first day, I approached the crowded pool ready to make that crucial entrance. Didn’t notice the sign which said “slippery when wet.” Rolled head over heels down a shallow flight of stairs, in my bathing suit, and flopped (unhurt), butt in the air, to the cement, before dozens of suddenly quiet German guests. I impressed. Oh yes.

“Tragic” first impressions can even happen to one’s nearest and dearest.

My parents and their friends, Wes and Marian, attended a party hosted by a dignified and formal couple they barely knew. As they were saying good night, Wes, prodded to compliment the hosts, floundered around, then finally loudly announced, “All kidding aside, cheese sandwiches do make a real good cheap lunch.”

They were not invited back.

Two weeks later, the four attended yet another party. My parents had been at this home once before, (and apparently my father hadn’t found the occasion memorable).  This was different. As he vigorously shook the hostess’ hand, he said, with deep conviction, “Gee, I really had a good time, this time.”

They were not invited back.

Of course, no first impression could be as traumatic as that of my friend’s friend, a woman who had been seriously dating a certain young man and had finally been invited home to meet his parents. Dressed in her best, wearing a pair of high, high heels, she nervously made small talk with the parents, while standing at the top of the stairs in their split level. 

She turned, promptly caught one of those heels, tripped, and then rolled violently down the steps  –  landing directly on top of the family’s beloved chihuahua.

They did not get married.

Just to prove that lightning can strike twice where first impressions are concerned, two years ago I went to the Dominican, this time travelling with friends. 

First day, very first public appearance, I wandered (in that inevitable bathing suit) among the lounge chairs and guests, looking for the place by the pool_where my group had set up. 

Missed noticing the “slippery when wet” sign. Again.

Shortly thereafter, found myself, with my ‘better side’ in the air, face down and sprawled before holidaying strangers. 

A large man in a tight t-shirt  reading “Beer’s my Bud,”  actually helped me up, then genially remarked to the crowd, “Wow, that usually doesn’t happen to me until late afternoon, after lots of brewskis.”

Another grand first impression. Sigh.

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