Friday, April 8, 2011

How to Lose Your Cool

When a friend decides to celebrate her 37th birthday by inveigling a group of girlfriends to take her out to a local hotspot for dinner and then go out dancing afterward, secretly congratulate yourself all week for having a friend who is almost a decade younger. Pretend to be ironic when you call her a whippersnapper, even though calling anyone a whippersnapper, ironically or not, makes you sound like you are one “Clap On, Clap Off” device away from residency at an AgeSong home.

As you get ready for the big night, apply almost all of your makeup before putting your contact lenses in, because now you are farsighted and once they’re in you can no longer focus on fine details, like where your lips end and your cheeks begin as you apply lipstick. Ask your preteen daughter to fix any rogue makeup situations before you leave, and trust her technique even though she is known to put lipstick on the dog.

Pull on the leopard print platform stilettos that you know would be sexy, even if worn by a corpse. Then worry if wearing them will exacerbate your plantar fasciitis.

At the hip nightclub where you will be eating dinner, eagerly follow your group of friends and the waiter to the corner table in the upstairs loft, where a curtain mostly obliterates you from view. Assume that he is seating you there out of recognition of your innate coolness, and not because he wants to shield the rest of the diners from seeing you raise the average age in the restaurant by 16 years.

Throughout the dinner, pepper the young waiter with the question, “What clubs are ‘happening’ now? [Note: someone at the table should use air quotes.] Where should we go dancing?”  He will laugh and fill your water glasses, but he will not answer your questions. When everyone pulls out their smartphones to start researching options online, become momentarily distracted by your friend’s app that calculates, to the penny, what each person at a group dinner should pay, including tip. Discuss how much time THAT could have saved in your life, not to mention the ruinous financial debacle of Helena’s 42nd birthday dinner. 

Once a destination is finally selected and revealed triumphantly to the young waiter for his approval, which is strange because the only thing you know about him is that he is stingy with the bread, finish up your fried olives and broccoli salad, commenting loudly on how both do a number on your digestive tract. 

On the one block walk to the club with your friends, complain about how your sexy shoes hurt. When one of your party, wearing a pair of low-heeled grey suede pumps, refers to them as her “safety shoes for dancing,” join your friends in an impromptu but surprisingly well-choreographed version of the Safety Dance along the sidewalk. Stop only when you spell "safety" wrong and can't breathe because you're laughing too hard.

When you straighten up and realize that you are standing in front of an open door from which jazz is seeping out, guarded by a handsome young man in a sleek suit and fedora tilted carefully over his eye, do not jump to the obvious conclusion that this is the destination for which you were looking. Instead have someone in the group say to the bouncer, “What IS this place? Is this a nightclub?”

After the bouncer ushers you in, wonder why. Then remember that it is only 9 pm and that the place won’t start filling up for at least another hour. Make your way to the attractively upholstered leather banquette only to be stopped by a cold-voiced waitress who tells you it’s reserved for some VIPs. Make for the circular staircase that leads to a second story overlooking the dance floor only to be foiled again by the same waitress: “VIPs only.” When she tells you that the last set of cushioned chairs in the nearly empty club is reserved for VIPs and has a three bottle minimum, snap, “Really? I’m so shocked.”

Push past your friends to dive onto one of the (free, no minimum charge) metal barstools and yell, “I have to sit, my dogs are barking!” and then slide your sexy shoes to the floor so you can wiggle some feeling back into your toes. As the DJ begins to set up, sit with purse on lap and arms and legs crossed, like you are being audited. Keep staring at the DJ, willing him to hurry up and put on some old school hip hop instead of hugging every damn employee who walks past the wheels of steel. At one point make eye contact with the fedora-wearing bouncer, jerk your chin towards the DJ, tap your watch, and shake your head dramatically. Wonder why he continues looking just past your left ear.

As more and more people enter the club, try not to notice that they are all coming through a door marked VIP Entrance. In fact, you are the only people in the club who did NOT come through that entrance. They sit on upholstered banquettes and head upstairs with insouciance, while you begin to droop on your uncomfortable barstool.

Brighten up when a gaggle of young women gather in front of the DJ on the dance floor, hoping they know something that you don’t about when this guy is ever going to play a record. Realize that one of them who is shaped like Santa Claus is wearing only tights and a shirt, and the shirt is made of shiny black Spandex straps. It’s as though she’s wearing the top 5/8ths of a racing swimsuit and left her pants at the dry cleaners.

To point out the young woman’s unusual pool-inspired attire to your friends would be mean. To turn to the friend next to you and say, “Speaking of swimming, what time is your son’s meet tomorrow? Is he still swimming backstroke?” would be downright pathetic. Begin to calculate how many hours of sleep you might get before the dog wakes you up tomorrow morning, if you went home right now. When the birthday girl takes another sip of her vat of Gin and Tonic and says “No one is leaving until we dance!” smile weakly at her. Whippersnapper.

When finally, lord have mercy, the DJ starts playing some music, be very disappointed that you don’t know it. Be even more disappointed when you realize that you do know some of it, because his shtick is to mix bad ‘70s music that you didn’t even like in the seventies into 21st century beats. Be so desperate to dance to anything so that you can wrap up this evening and go home to your flannel jammies that when “Africa” by Toto comes on, you and your girlfriends actually shriek and jump to the dance floor.

Make it through three songs before someone in your party yawns the kind of yawn that is accompanied by sound. Leave the dance floor to the bathing-suit-shirted girl and her friends, as you and yours slink out the non-VIP entrance.

As you brush your teeth with your daughters' bubble gum flavored pink toothpaste in the glow of a nightlight, the sound of your husband’s snore beckoning like a fog beacon from down the hall, realize that your club-going days may indeed be behind you. Search your face in the mirror for signs of sadness and regret. Finding none, climb happily into bed.


  1. I've now figured out how to correctly spell "safety" out loud - as in, with the 'e' and the 't' this time. But maybe we should make up a "Safty" or "Safey" dance anyway, just to keep in our back pockets....

  2. That was YOU GUYS on the bar stools?? Hah!

    -Vincent I. Paulson

  3. OMG Vinny - was that YOU in the fedora?

  4. This is giving me flashbacks to my Vegas adventure last year.

    And "Africa"? Love it.

  5. Oh God, I would have to be totally desperate to get excited about "Africa". It sets my teeth on edge every time I hear "Ser-en-ge-TI".

  6. Yeah, Mary, so you know exactly how desperate we were. Even you would have been happy to hear it by then!


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