Another scary thought is that potentially people can be dropping by from anywhere in the world, anytime of the day, it's not like when you have people visiting your house, at least then you usually get a few hours notice to scramble around and make the place look half decent.
Now given it's April the 1st with all the hype surrounding the expected onslaught from the gofigure/goldfinger whatever its called virus - that's it I remember now- coficker, it may well be that I'm talking to myself here as the internet grinds to a shuddering halt, but hey it might give me time to catch up at least!
When we talk about first impressions, inevitably the old debate surfaces about whether or not there is such a thing as "love at first sight". I have to say I've never really experienced that thunderbolt moment, and whenever I think about the subject, my mind wanders inevitably to that warbling James Blunt classic "You're beautiful". Forgive me if you are not familiar with his work, but the gist of it is that, one day while out and about he catches the eye of a beautiful lady as he passes by on a subway and is immediately completely in love. The only problem is she's with another bloke, but no worries, Bluntys got a master plan of how to win her over. However, it appears this plan is a little short on ideas to say the least, he just gets more and more despairing as he goes on, and ends up ultra melo-dramatically chucking himself off a pier in the video version to his impending demise. A bit extreme for me, surely he could have just spoke to her or something :)
Now my first meeting with my good lady wife of 10 years now is an interesting one. It was in my final university year, I'd moved into a new flat with a mix of new people and there I was in the kitchen one day. She walks in, I glance up, and to this day I swear this is absolutely true - the first thought that flashed into my mind (I was single at the time) was - she looks like the kind of girl I might marry one day. Nothing like , drop everything I must kiss her right now, but just a little recognition that she seems nice.
Sadly my second impression was then very swiftly formed when her then boyfriend walked in at that moment -and as he was the one flat mate I hadn't really warmed to, and as it clicked that they were together, it all evaporated in an instant. Specially as he didn't even introduce us. We left the kitchen without speaking, and pretty much didn't speak much at all the rest of the year. It was all done by association - she been going out with him for a few years and I don't get on with him, therefore she's not worth getting to know
Thankfully a year or two later, my future wife and I ended up sharing a house together, our friendship started again from a clean slate, and after 18 months of being housemates and close buddies, confiding our closest thoughts as singletons, we finally got together. So never mind first impressions, second ones ain't always so helpful either!!
I think an awful lot can also depend on your pre-conceptions and expectations going into any given situation, and how they match up to the reality you encounter. Take a very simple example from a few years back. With a couple of friends, we'd arranged a mini-weekend away, and fairly randomly, picked the historic University town of Cambridge as our base. Naturally as we took our first stroll into town that spring Saturday afternoon, we expected to have our senses inspired and enriched by fine architecture and culture oozing from every available vantage point.
So you can imagine we were some what taken a back when we turn a corner and next thing we know we are caught in the middle of some kind of seething mass of noise and aggression streaming towards us. Literally dozens of yobs, charging about the place, with police on horseback desperately trying to restore some sort of order. We dived for cover into the nearest shop, whereupon the shop owner gave us the heads up that today was the local derby match between Cambridge and Peterborough United and all the hooligans from the vicinity had assembled for the occasion.
Eventually we got past all this and enjoyed a couple of fairly blissful days enjoying the cafe culture and soaking up the sights, but do you know still to this day, that first impression being so far removed from expectations has made an indelible imprint in my perception of the town. Since that weekend we've only been to Oxford on our tours or days out, and Cambridge has never managed to make its way back into our plans (still I support Cambridge in the boat race - so that's something!)
So for me, first impressions are always interesting, but should never be treated as absolute. It also often depends on the context, where you meet them and when. One of our best friends in the world now, a loud-mouthed Essex chap, was so obnoxious and overbearing when my wife first encountered him on her University course she hated him in an instant. When she had to work with him on an assignment, she got to know a completely different side of him and they became good friends. A few years later, I had my first encounter with him when she invited him to a student party, and I just thought he was hilarious -his voice was booming out like a foghorn across the room and we hit it off straight away purely on the basis of a shared desire to sneak out for a pee in the garden while the toilet was occupied. So if those memorable first encounters somehow manage to lead to lasting friendships, all the better to have things to look back and laugh about.
There's one first impression though that I really can be certain of. And that was the first time I ever laid eyes on my precious son. There and then I knew this tiny little chap we'd just brought into this world meant more to me in than I could ever have imagined. But this was no flashing moment of inspiration, this was for keeps....