The enduring power of ladies night
Here’s to ladies night, always on an off-night, never the good nights, always a Tuesday or a Thursday — some throwaway day of the week. Women elbowdeep at the bar and the men absent until later, until after the ladies have consumed enough two-for-one beers or dollar-off margaritas to make them socially lubricated, when the tight groups of females have loosened and the toasts turned from, “Who needs a man?” to “Tonight we’re getting lucky.”
Fish in a barrel, the guys might say.
They show up with their fresh-shaved faces wearing department store cologne and offer to buy one of the women a drink — not the prettiest, maybe, but the one who looks most fun — and suddenly the group splinters. What happens to those ladies scooped up by men in button-down shirts? The usual: a first date followed by breathless phone calls to the same group of girlfriends to report every detail.
“What did you wear?” her friends will ask. “What kind of car does he drive?”
Then, the uncertainty. The will-he-or-won’t he-call.
“Don’t worry, he’ll call,” the friends say .
They’ll be the first to know when he asks her on a second date. Later, over ribeye and baked potatoes at some chain restaurant — T.G.I. Friday’s or Applebee’s — she’ll sit stiffly as the man drones on about his job, as he talks and talks and talks, and she’ll think, Do I have lettuce stuck in my teeth? When he pauses for breath, he’ll ask if he’s boring her and she’ll smile a close-se-lipped smile (because of the lettuce) and shake her head. She’ll eye his jawline and evaluate his nose, wondering about the potential for cuteness of their genetically blended dwell, offspring.
If all goes well, not just at dinner but later, that night and the next week and the week after that, they’ll tumble - into a life together, and although he will be the person she goes to bed with at night withh and wakes up too in the morning, she’llhe’ll still confide her worries and expectations in her girlfriends because there is something to be said for those women who have known her for so long.
The relationship will go the usual way: marriage, kids, a house with furniture not bought from Ikea — until it ends, as marriages always do, in divorce or death. Nothing lasts forever. And when her children have grown and her husband has left or died, she’ll gather up her friends for another ladies night.
I saw one of these get-togethers during a recent night out with my beau. At the table across from us there were five women in their early 60s, dressed well but not extravagantly, the kind of women who have worked hard their whole lives and now seem to be enjoying retirement. One of them raised her glass to the woman next to her. “Happy birthday,” she said and the others joined in.
I watched as they laughed and talked easily together, and I couldn’t help but wonder if they were relieved that the early days were over, that all the worrying and searching had passed, that they had made their lives and survived and were with good friends once again. ¦