Was relatively social this weekend, which was impressive considering that I was swamped at work because we have 50,000 things going on and I’m stressed about half of them and I haven’t even thought about the other half. And, I was going into to a four-day weekend. (Gotta love livin’ in a place where you get Mardi Gras off instead of President’s Day.) In my defense, I actually said I was coming to work on Monday and my boss was like, “No, you need the day off.” (Don’t tell him that I’m actually going to work from home some today. That’s our little secret.)
Thursday evening we celebrated a friend’s birthday with margaritas and a great show at a small venue. At work I’d texted back and forth with my friend about the relative number of margaritas each of us would drink that night. We were both stressed out and busier than can be and we’ve been unable to one-up each other lately since we’re both swamped. (Me: “I would drink now while I’m at work, but that would make the baby Jesus cry.” She told me later that her co-workers thought she lost it when she got that one because she laughed so hard.)
So we munched on spinach queso and fresh chips and let frozen ritas bring us back to life that evening. We knew we’d regret going out the next day at work, but at that point in the evening, neither of us cared.
The show was good. However, as it grew later in the evening, the crowd (our age and older) seemed to get a touch restless.
“Seriously, I have to go to work tomorrow,” she said.
“I know, just one more song,” I argued.
Ten minutes later, she groaned. “Seriously.”
“I know, you would think they’d understand that their audience is getting old now and as such needs a certain amount of rest in order to have a productive day on Friday.”
We stayed to the end of the show, leaving the venue after 1 a.m., grumpy and with our little spirits slightly broken that we’d both become so “adult” that we hadn’t enjoyed the last hour or so because we were obsessed with the running “To Do” lists in our heads. (We were not the only ones. I saw a lot of people checking their Treos or Blackberrys.) (And I refuse to pluralize “Blackberry” the device as I would the fruit, since it is a brand name.)
Friday morning came early. I rolled over and groaned. I’d done a half-assed job of taking my makeup off the night before and my hair was a tangle of curls and flat sections. (I’d botched an attempt at hot roller beauty the night before and had to resort to pining it all back as I ran out the door.) I smelled like bar, my head hurt and I DID NOT want to go anywhere but back under my comforter.
Unfortunately, I pay the bills around here.
I snoozed until well after 7 a.m. The latest possible time for me to leave home and still be in my chair on time is 7:30, so I had to resort to a tactic not used since college one time when I had decided that studying for a very hard final was stupid and had gone out and had my fair share of Jager and then had borrowed someone’s car to drive to the test in my PJs, still smelling like vodka. (I didn’t do well on the test, but I still got a B in the class. So, of course, I didn’t learn the lesson in that experience.)
I am not proud of this, but I didn’t shower.
I didn’t have time. I pulled my curly mane into a clip and bobby pinned the front down and then hairsprayed it to within and inch of its life. (It actually looked kind of cute.) I scrubbed my face and wiped down quickly and then coated my body and my clothes with Cucumber Melon body spray from Bath and Body Works. I threw on a ruby-colored sweater with those cute plum kitten heels and jeans and I sprinted out of the door, patting on makeup in the car.
You know what? I got a ton of compliments on my cute outfit that day. And I have no idea why. This is so unfair. I shower and wash my hair and do nice makeup every other day and the first time I roll into work looking undead and smelly, everyone thinks I’m adorable.
I crankied through work all day and but cried when it was finally time to leave. I swung through Whole Foods for yummy salad toppings (fresh edamamme, tofu and juicy grape tomatoes) and fruit and resolved not to leave the house for the rest of the night. I took a short bath because I was grumpy about not bathing earlier, but I didn’t wash the hair (which, incidentally, had not moved all day) because I didn’t want to go to sleep on wet hair.
I snuggled into bed with a mug of warm sugar-free cider (I am practically 65, I swear) and was all ready to slide into blissful sleep when my phone rang. It was The Lawyer.
“I’m in town. Come have a drink with us.”
“Um, I don’t think I’m in any shape to do that. I didn’t wash my hair this morning.”
“S! Drink! Now!”
The Lawyer talked me into going out, so I climbed out of the warmth and located jeans and boots and a shirt. I looked at my hair, still flawlessly in place and only really a day or so dirty and shrugged.
Half an hour later I was jogging through the rain (not an easy task in my favorite boots) and into a bar I love. I found The Laywer and friends in a dark corner, ordered up a Sauvignon Blanc and relaxed.
We had a good time. The Lawyer is fun and the fact that we don’t see each other as much anymore has increased the amount of fun we have together exponentially. We teased back and forth about boys and she bragged about “not having any commitment issues.”
I almost choked on my wine and a mutual friend did the same. We both laughed out loud.
“What? I don’t,” The Lawyer said. “I have no problem committing.”
“Of course not, sweetie. You just commit too soon,” I said, trying to sound comforting.
There was a beat of silence. I was afraid I’d crossed the line and was dipping into my crisis communication training and wondering what to say. And then our mutual friend busted out laughing and said that she totally agreed. The Lawyer seemed only mildly bothered by it, but eventually let a smile spread across her face.
The conversation was good. I talked shop with a guy with similar career aspirations. Our Lawyer pals gave out free legal advice.
The conversation turned to sex, as wine-laced talk among adults tends to do. We discussed such important topics as why it was important to “test drive before you buy,” the myth of multiple orgasms and porn. (Future Nobel Prize Winners, all of us.)
I managed to be in bed before 1:30 a.m.
Saturday morning I groaned as I rolled over when my alarm went off. I had to go to a bridal shower two hours away with a good friend and co-worker (also a PR lady who helped me get my job). We needed to leave her house at 11:30 a.m.
This was problematic as it was pouring rain outside and my hair had become matted and gross overnight. As I scrubbed the hairspray and petrified smoke smell out of it in the shower, I mentally went through my closest for an outfit.
It was cold and rainy and as such I was not wearing a little skirt. All of my shirt options seemed too work oriented or too slutty. After some hemming and hawing, I ended up in black wide-legged trousers and a black button down with purple and gray stripes. Probably totally inappropriate for a bridal shower, but I was not prepared to freeze all day just to wear the classic bridal shower garb. (Flowy skirt and a twin set.)
I ran out of the house. And then back in because I’d forgotten my present. And then I realized I hadn’t wrapped it and it was probably too big for a bag, so I was looking at a stop somewhere else for paper.
My tires screeched as I swerved to avoid being hit by a little silver sports car that cut me off as I attempted to turn to get on the Interstate. I screamed and ended up missing my turn. I didn’t have time to circle back around, so I cursed and went the long way through town. I fiddled with my cell phone and attempted to call my friend and warn her that I was running late. No answer. Damn.
The rain slowed as I pulled off and into a Target parking lot a few minutes from my friend’s house. She lives in an area of town that I just don’t really go in a lot and I was pretty turned around at this point. As I looked for a parking spot, the rain doubled. It was coming down hard and I was pissed.
I grabbed my umbrella and prayed my slingbacks wouldn’t fail me and I jumped over puddles. Each time I landed, I heard a small splash and felt water tickle my ankles, soaking the hem of my pants. My hair had gone from wavy and voluminous to frizzy and poufy. I’d had the presence of mine to not put on makeup before I left, so at least mascara wasn’t running down the side of my face. (I applied makeup on the way out of town.)
I grabbed a (huge) gift bag and a wonderful woman left me skip her in line since I only had one item. (May good karma and blessings come her way.) I ran outside on my tiptoes.
It was 11:47. Crap.
My tires screeched again as I peeled out of the parking lot. I turned the wrong way, but finally ended up at my friend’s house as 11:55. I jumped out of the car apologizing and she smiled and said it was ok. She knows me and apparently had taken into account that I would be late when she picked a starting time. (My friends know me so well. One time when I was a bridesmaid, my friend gave me a itinerary for the weekend of the wedding. I compared it to the rest of the wedding party’s and my times were always at least 30 minutes earlier so I would always be on time.)
We jumped into her car and I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw her in black pants, looking like she was heading for work as well. And she’s married, so I was pretty sure she knew the rules of bridal shower attire better than I did.
We picked up coffee and muffins (as if I’d had time to eat in all of my running late!) and pulled out the directions. I gave her a rundown since she was driving.
“Are we driving to the end of the world?”
“Yes. Basically, go toward New Orleans and then south before you get there.”
So, the first hour was work gossip. (Be nice to your PR people, everyone. We know what happens at work because it is our job to know this stuff. I’m just saying.)
“Ok, the directions say that we’re to look for a motel on the side of the road after a gas station,” I said.
“First a gas station and then a motel.”
“Who made these directions?”
“Oh. How long has it been since she’s lived here?”
“Um, six or seven years, ‘cause she double majored and then she’s been out of state for, um, at least a year and a half.”
“Right. Well. I feel like we’re in the middle of nowhere.”
We finally found the house and the shower was very nice. The Bride has a very large family and they are just the nicest people in the world, very down-home, not pretentious. Just good people, as we like to say. The salt of the earth and such.
The Bride circled the party oozing happiness. It was odd to see her in a fancy suit with a corsage and a ring on her finger. How many nights did I sit across from her in a bar as she drowned her latest man sorrows in a Killian’s? Too many to count.
And here she was. Glowing and happy in a light khaki suit with her eyes sparkling as she balanced a plate of dainty finger sandwiches and a cup of some sort of green punch and welcomed her guests, friends and family members and the women whose weddings she’d been to over the years. She exuded this confidence and contentment. She opened presents and got more kitchen things than I think she’d ever use.
“Do you even cook now?” I heckled as she opened my present.
“Of course!” she exclaimed with mock surprise. “I can cook a lot of things. Like coffee …”
I gossiped with two of her single bridesmaids from where she lives now.
“Do you think they will make us play, um, games?” one asked me.
“Shower games? I hope not. That would be horrible.”
They didn’t. Bridesmaids and shower planners of the world should know that making adult women play stupid guessing games is always inappropriate and borderline insulting. Let us talk and pretend to be grown ups, please.
After the gifts, we had cups of coffee and The Bride joined us to discuss the wedding. We gave her a run down of who was coming in from our circle of friends. We have a group of good friends from college who see each other sometimes during football season and at weddings.
“Oh, you can bring B as your date,” The Bride said. “ I don’t remember if I responded to your e-mail about that or not.”
“Oh, um, ok,” I said. I was ambivalent about it all on that particular day. B, The Bride and I were a nice little unit for almost a year before she moved. We had a designated night where we drank beer and ate raw oysters and bar food together. We were happy and inappropriate and even B got a bit misty eyed the last time we’d met for drinks before she moved.
“But,” she interrupted my daydream. “I don’t believe for a second that you won’t make out with him.”
Everyone laughed and I blushed. The Bride had witnessed the two of us and our terrible flirtations firsthand, including one night when we’d actually made out in front of everyone up against the bar.
“We’ll see,” I said. (Truth be told, I left B a message asking him to be my “guest” (not date!) at her wedding so that we could reunite our little gang. I actually didn’t realize that he hadn’t been invited. He hasn’t called me back.)
We made plans for the Bachelorette party in New Orleans and then we headed back home.
We almost immediately got lost in this little town. Bayou to the left, wilderness to the right. We made a wrong turn down a one-way street in a not-so-nice area and my friend suggested that she go ask for directions.
“Stay in the car, Ann Taylor,” I deadpanned. “We’re going to stick out like sore thumbs here.”
Now, I do not live some huge city. They’re really aren’t a lot of HUGE cities in the South where I live. However, people from this area know the difference between “City” people and “Country” people. When you’re surrounded by towns of less than ten thousand people, those with several hundred thousand start to look pretty big.
So, for this afternoon, we were city girls lost in the country looking at directions that referenced roads “that may be paved now” and tiny mom-and-pop stores. And it was raining. And we had two hours of driving ahead of us.
I called back to the shower and someone gave us directions that involved “following the bayou” to another small town 30 miles away and then turning on some street that she didn’t know the name of (she said we’d know it when we saw it because it was in the middle of nowhere) and then following the highway until this bridge. I took notes and when I hung up we decided that the devil we knew (our directions) was better than the devil we didn’t (her directions). References were made to dueling banjos and squealing like a pig and we finally found our way back to the Interstate.
“This is why country people hate us,” I said. “Because we act like being lost for 15 minutes is the End. Of. The. World.”
“Hey! I can hang with both because I’ve lived in both.”
“Sweetie, you grew up in New Orleans until your family moved to the Burbs, not the country.”
Seeing no coffee shops on the way out of town (seriously, I found the one area of the country that Starbucks hasn’t colonized) we opted for big diet cokes from Burger King.
We talked about love and marriage on the way home. I relayed my feelings about wanting something like what I was surrounded by growing up, but being frustrated with the looking.
“I have to believe that I’ll just know. And it will stop being stressful because I will just know,” I said.
“And, see,” she said. “That is exactly how it is.”
She relayed the story of never thinking she’d want to be married, right up until she met the man she’s now married to, because she just knew he was right. Like he fit.
It gave me hope.
We finally got home around 7 p.m. and I headed home to make dinner. I intended to stay in, but The Lawyer was going out again with a friend that I love. She’s a sweet Southern Belle type, with this thick accent and quirky mannerisms (she refuses to drink a beer unless it is “properly dressed,” meaning wrapped in a napkin) and a boyfriend I also love. He is great and for some reason we get along like two peas in a pod. I wouldn’t have thought we’d like each other so much, but we have a really fun friendship. The Southern Belle and SB’s Boyfriend are one of my favorite couples.
We drank beer and caught up (I haven’t seen him in months) and generally had a blast. I’d missed them both. Because The Lawyer introduced us, when she moved, we hadn’t kept up like we should have. But not anymore. We had too much fun Saturday to not hang out again. The Lawyer left early, but I stayed for another round.
“So, what are we doing next weekend?” SB’s Boyfriend asked as we left.
“Call me,” I said, giggling, feeling like this couple had just asked me out on a date or something. I should have said, “Anything as long as you bring your nice single male friends along.”
But I am not that quick on my feet.
I’d left my cell in the car on accident and when I checked my texts (just after midnight), I saw one from The Producer from around 11 p.m. inviting me out for a drink. I texted back, determined that she was still out and headed over to meet her, feeling quite the popular social butterfly.
I stopped to smooth my hair and check my makeup when I got to the parking lot at the next bar. I was about to bound through the doors when I stopped to compose myself. The last time I’d met The Producer and her co-workers out at this bar (where they practically live), I’d met The Engineer (still hasn’t called). I had to prepare myself for the reality that he could be there and I would have to be able to either ignore him without looking childish or confidentially blow him off if he talked to me without looking too concerned.
I stepped away from the door, embarrassed. But my phone rang and The Producer was coming to find me, so I went it like a big girl. I stopped to order a glass of wine and followed her into a back room. I quickly scanned the group, realized The Engineer wasn’t there and let out a big sigh of relief.
I texted B a bit and he said he’d call when he got off of work. I had a good time with The Producer and her co-workers and made plans for them to join my pals and me for dinner and a good show in a few weeks.
I paid out my tab and stayed around to drink a big glass of water (the bartended laughed when I asked for a pen to sign my receipt and some water). I wasn’t drunk by any means, but I’m one of those “better safe than sorry” types.
One of The Producer’s co-workers teased me about the last time I came out with them and I braced myself for a round of “You made out in the parking lot with a boy,” but he joked more that I hadn’t kept up drink-for-drink with them.
“I had to drive home!” I protested.
“Excuses, excuses,” he teased.
I headed out a bit before 2 a.m. and fell into bed hard. At 2:30, B called and invited me over for more drinks. I told him I was in bed and I would have to meet him another night.
“You barely just left the bar!” He complained. “How could you be in bed already!”
“I work quickly.”