I am head over heels crazy about my husband. No doubt about it. If I was going to be stranded on a desert island and could only pick one person to be there with, he would be my first choice. If they (you know, the guys who send you to desert islands) said I couldn’t pick Long Suffering Husband, then it would be Johnny Depp and he would just have to get used to the idea, but I’d rather have hubbie.
But as much as I adore him and enjoy being with him (Long Suffering, not Johnny), it is always a lot of fun to be out with The Girls. The whole dynamic is different when there are no men around and it is very relaxing! It’s the difference between having a day off when there’s an ice storm and you know that nobody is going to drop in, and having a day off when you’re expecting the carpet cleaner, your mother-in-law, and the Avon Lady.
Ice Days are days you don’t have to put on make-up, pick up the living room, or just about anything you don’t want to do. Heck, there have been Ice Days when I didn’t get out of my pajamas until 15 minutes before Long Suffering was due to get home. As opposed to the other days when you are combed and made up and dressed and put on earrings and vacuum, all before 9:00 in the morning.
And while one does not normally wear pajamas and skip brushing one’s teeth when going out with the girls, the experience is different than going out with couples from the time you get dressed until the time you pull back up in the driveway, full and happy and with smeary mascara from laughing so much.
When going out with couples a girl might dress a little more conservatively in the hope that she will not be the subject of an after dinner conversation ("did she have to wear every piece of jewelry she owns? And what was with the purple eyeglass frames?")
When going out with friends you have known for a long time, friends you trust and love, you will not hesitate to show a little flair. They already know you, know your foibles, weaknesses, strengths, joys and heartaches and if there are some they don’t know, they’ll know them by the end of the evening.
They are not going to see your silver sequined tennies as a sign of mental unbalance, but rather as a brave gesture in the face of a sometimes difficult world. Dinner is different with The Girls than with couples. You don’t have to worry about what you order for one thing. You can eat as little or as much as you are inclined to order and no one will even notice. They will not suspect eating disorders or gluttony. You can order dessert or not, and you can taste everybody else’s dessert if you are inclined to do so. Nobody will care. You’ve shared births and deaths and marriages and divorces, love and betrayal and after all of that nobody is going to quibble over a teaspoonful of apple crisp.
Conversation is different. There is no deferring. There is waiting. There is listening. There are sympathetic silences, generally lasting 3.2 seconds before someone cracks wise to put things in perspective. But there is no enduring.
When you are out with the girls you do not have to pause the conversation, or the three different conversations, while Bonzo Jones expounds on his golf prowess or Blather Braggington waxes poetic about how he got one over on the plumber. Because you and the girls all speak the same language.
Girl conversations consist in large part of hand gestures, cocked eyebrows and half sentences. In fact, I wonder if you were to transcribe two conversations at two different dinners – girls only and couples – whether it would almost seem like two different languages. That would be an interesting science fair project for somebody’s sixth grader!
It’s fun to go out to dinner with good friends, whether couples or same gender friends. It’s a refreshing break, either way. But there is something profoundly renewing and revitalizing and comforting about getting together with a group of folks who know and understand exactly where you started, where you have been, where you are likely headed and what it all must mean to you.
There is something validating about it. There is something uniquely satisfying about being a reed among a group of reeds who have all been bent and pummeled by some wind or another and who have all sprung back up, straight and tall, to their original shape. Unbroken and not really all that battered. Can’t wait for next time.