Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Girls' Night Out--Archaic Ritual or Necessary Endeavor?

I was recently watching one of my favorite reality television shows—The Real Housewives of New York City—and the subject came up among the women on the show about the old “girls’ night out.” One woman took umbrage at the fact that her girlfriends had invited her over, yet had a collective freak out when she brought her husband. This caused much drama, with a conversation ensuing about the whole concept of the girls’ night out. The woman who had brought her husband made it a gender equality issue which one of the housewives—with whom I agree—thought was a bit over the top. The woman with the husband thought that it was discriminatory or some such hogwash that her husband couldn’t attend the dinner, which was supposed to be ladies only.

First question, why would she want him to attend?

Second, and more important question, why would he want to?

I haven’t been able to get my husband’s take on this yet, but being as he greets my girls’ nights out with a wave of the hand and the cracking open of a beer, I don’t get the sense that he’s too troubled by the whole notion. Nor do I get the sense that he wants to come along. Or that he feels discriminated against. Because, face it, at this point, all my girlfriends and I are talking about are the kids and peri-menopause. What man in his right mind would be interested in that?

And I’m not interested in finding out what goes on after his softball team, the Ducks, leaves the field and hits the bar for some cold ones and a rehash of the game. That’s for the Ducks.

Are we the odd balls? Should we, like this glamorous and madly in love couple on the Real Housewives (or so they profess), want to spend every waking moment together?

The answer, my friends, is a resounding “no.” (In my humble opinion.)

As I mentioned above, a girls’ night out affords me the opportunity to talk about those things that my husband isn’t really all that interested in talking about. To wit, has Target embraced “vanity sizing” whereby your old size twelve is now a fourteen? He is just not interested in the answer to that question, much less discussing it for close to an hour. And because he has a thirty-two inch waist and has since he was sixteen, couldn’t give a rat’s behind about vanity sizing. But for me and my girlfriends, this is a discussion that could go on as long as a Security Council meeting at the U.N.

Example #2: Are boot-cut jeans, in, out, or timeless? He doesn’t care. He wears the same jeans that he’s always worn—the ones that were on sale when he went shopping for jeans.

Example #3: How does one get out of their PTA position—the one that they have held since their now-fourteen-year-old was in kindergarten? Answer? One doesn’t. One has it until one succumbs to Dutch Elm disease. Or moves to another state. Or when one’s child graduates from the school (but even that’s not a guarantee). But until any or all of these things occur, one (me) stays on the PTA.

My husband, if I chose to bring this up, would tell me to just quit. Oh, if it were that simple. Does he realize the looks I would get at the produce counter? The hurt feelings? Or that I would have to find my own replacement and lie about how rewarding it is to do the things that I do? My girlfriends understand all this and more. (One of them is still wearing a wig and sunglasses out so that she won’t be recognized and put on a committee to run the next social event.)

Obviously, I’ve simplified things a bit. We do tackle some topics that are more mundane, and some that are more serious. We’ve done religion, politics, divorce, teenagers, marriage, and double coupons—but not necessarily in that order. I need my girlfriends to assure me that I’m on the right track, doing the right thing, doing the best by my kids and my husband. It’s a gut check, a panacea for paranoia.

I head out tonight with two friends for a couple of glasses of cheap wine and some burgers. I can only hope that they leave half as happy as I do after spending a few hours on the topic of my muffin top.

Maggie Barbieri

1 comment:

  1. I agree with Maggie on this subject of the girls night out, overall. We all enjoy sharing and being with true peers, and for women, at least a good part of the time, that means clusters of other WOMEN. It's not bad, it's not wrong, it's not a mistake. It's called relating and it's a necessary and natural process.

    As to the specific trigger of the disucssion, I especially like the part where Mags hints that that BAT CRAZY blonde (Alex is her name) and her "how do I get out of this closet?" husband (Simone--his Australian accent distracts from analysis of his sexuality, but only momentarily) and their doomed, innocent, yet poorly behaved sons (Francois and Johan!?!?!) are just socially ignorant and way too far up one another's hind ends.

    I have to admit that I'm one of the TV snobs you hear about: I rage against reality programming, can't understand the appeal of Lost or Desperate Housewives, blah, blah, blah . . . BUT, I was working on mundane edits one day last week and put on Bravo and watched about four episodes in a row of RHONY rather than popping in a movie like Casablanca in the player. Sometimes old movies are like great background music when I work.

    But, I was in the mood for something else, and it was like eating two pint tubs of Hagen-Daz. And, get this: I feel like it was time well spent.

    Human nature abhors a cultural vacuum, and this show was really, for good and bad, a slice of our culture.

    I think Maggie and I might have felt the same stabbing pain in our heads when watching Alex and Simone vacationing at some resort where she goes on and on about how they feel so lucky to be together and feel sorry for people who don't have what they have.

    Yeah, that's what we all want, honey: to be freakishly self-involved.

    My big question when I watched Alex was "WHO talks this way to ANYONE, let alone their spouse!?" It's a puzzler.

    Running a close second on that show for most bizarre woman is Ramona. Oh, and Bethany needs to be slapped pretty hard, too, but I'd settle for someone clothes-lining her boyfriend, Jason. I can't decide yet which of them is more of an idiot. And, by the way, SHE isn't a "housewife". What's up with that?

    Anyone else feel like they're coming down with a nasty case of "schadenfreude"? Just eat two tubs of Hagen-Daz and you'll be fine.