First of all, my apologies to my friend, ummm..."Gladys" above (fake name used to protect the innocent.) We've known each other since we were four so chances are good that I've done much worse than this. No visual could quite exemplify the slow, yet temporary destruction of our middle-aged bodies than this picture taken by an equally hungover person on the ride home.
So, picking up where we left off:
My friend Lauren and I go back to our room at the Quality Inn, the highest of quality for us because we've landed the honeymoon suite(so-named because of a big hot tub in the middle of the room which quickly turned into a horrible looking mess after I dumped the melted ice out of my cooler, forgetting the bag of now-smooshed cheese Combos and M&M's I put in there. I sheepishly call housekeeping and tell them that I'll deal with the mess, and that no, no one threw up in it.)
We get into our king-sized bed (well, the honeymoon suite would be sort of counter-intuitive with two fulls)and quickly fall asleep (Lauren and I both travel with our white-noise machines and worked out beforehand who would bring theirs--hers is much louder and fancier than mine, which come to think about it, pretty much sums up our friendship. She's kind enough to let me drive her Lexus when she visits and I'm always telling her to stop yelling.)
After precisely one hour, our cellphones which have been charging across the room, start erupting with annoying and LOUD rings. Our friends, "Gladys" and Beth yell at us to get up and get moving. We model outfits for each other, flatiron each other's hair, tell Lauren that everything she puts on is fabulous and doesn't make her look fat (however, when she shows up at the bar after I do, she's in a totally different ensemble from when I left her.)
(Favorite story #1--Beth, some time before naps, calls Lauren in a panic saying she can't find her phone. She asks Lauren if she left it in our room. "Gladys" overhears this and points out to Beth that she is, uh, USING her phone to call Lauren about her LOST phone. What's a bit disconcerting about this is that Beth usually plays the role of the most clear-headed of the four of us.)
Our (fantastic and handsome) organizers for the weekend provide a shuttle bus for those who are anticipating being too drunk to drive. There's a group of those adventurous types (and a generation younger) who actually CHOOSE to sleep in the bunks at camp, who spill out of the bus in front of the bar. Another group is shuttled from the motel. (Truly, I know myself well enough to never get drunk enough not to drive, stopping hours before it's time to go, so I drive into town, knowing that the bus is on hand in case I need to use it.)
I'm already sitting at the bar, surrounded by old and new faces. I'm being offered drinks literally, left and right. There's a group of wonderful guys behind me whose names and faces I know, but have known little about throughout the years. They are wonderfully special to each other. Best men at each other's weddings, investors and supporters in each other's assorted businesses and ventures, the Jewish equivalent of godparents to each other's children. One of them orders 10 shots of tequila. They toast to love and friendship. It gets me kind of misty (oh, and I get a shot too.)
My dear friend, Robbie, has taken the glasses off of one of the guys and is passing them around to us, and to assorted bar patrons, snapping pictures of each of us (later, these same glasses are photographed on top of a pizza.) We somehow all look really good in them (example above.)
We're clustered around the front room of the bar waiting for our private room with a hired deejay. It sees like every one of the early-30s group of women is in black. We in our 40s are more like the Jewish version of Chico's. The "townies" in the bar are either looking at us like we're aliens, or not-so-subtly leering at us. We suspect that when the owners of the bar get wind that we're in town, they water down the booze. The shots of tequila are in cups the size of those that are on the tops of children's medicine. Methinks lots of money is exchanged that night.
We make our way to the back room. Lady Gaga, pop singer of the hour, and an artist that we really only know because our CHILDREN are listening to her, kicks-off the dancing. I am often amazed at how well some of these guys dance. My theory is that it's because of all the bar and bat mitvahs they've attended. The women are fabulous and sexy. We totally let loose. I do my annual lap dance for my friend Robbie. I'm 45.
Camera flashes are everywhere. We're captured in some not-so becoming angles. Within 24-hours of being home, there are HUNDREDS of pictures on facebook. We de-tag, we replace our profile pictures with a favorite from the weekend, we comment endlessly. Status updates all talk about how sad we are to be home, how re-entry into reality is really hard. Regional mini-reunions are planned to extend the one-of-a-kind feeling.
Beginning of Favorite Story #2)The night goes too quickly. Buses are reloaded. Eddie M., who I've known since he was about 6, and has turned into somewhat of an icon in one short weekend, gives me a ride to my car. I playfully turn his GPS to give directions in French. I follow him out and when I get to the on-ramp to get back to the motel he keeps going straight. I think that he must know a faster way. I pull in at the same time as the bus. We gather for an impromptu after-hours party in a gazebo on the motel's lawn. A large bottle of vodka is being passed around. A joint travels around the opposite direction of the circle. I think someone has a video camera. Everyone's starving. The vending machine only has pretzels and gum left. Lauren has four slices of pizza in her car. She shares.
After about 45 minutes, Eddie pulls in, not looking very happy. "Does anyone know French??" Ooops. I think he thinks he'll never be able to get it back to English. Thank God I'm a good problem solver. He forgives me.
I think I get into bed at around 3:00 am. At home, I go to bed at 9:30 and read for an hour. I've smoked what feels like a carton of cigarettes. After we wake up and gather our stuff, we meet another group for breakfast down the road at a strip mall. A sign outside says "Voted Best Breakfast Buffet 3 years in a Row! Only $7.99!" That's quite a statement for Torrington, Connecticut, and it takes Beth and me about 5 seconds to agree to try it, congealed bacon and all. Lauren declares the sausage, egg and cheese sandwich she's ordered the best thing she's ever eaten. We are hungover and hungry. We'd eat anything at this point.
It's time for us to go. Lauren, Beth and "Gladys" pile into the rented maroon PT Cruiser to head back to Jersey. I have the shorter trip back to Boston. I have lied to my ex-husband in order to give myself a 3-hr stretch to nap before he drops off our daughter. It's quiet. My head hurts. I expect there are about 125 or so people feeling exactly the same way, off in their corners of the real world. Again, facebook status updates for 48-hours talk about how exhausted we all are. What's most impressive is that we'll rally and do this all over again, undoubtedly in larger numbers, two years from now.
Until then, "Friends, friends, friends, we will always be..."