I attended a friend’s 40th birthday party at an Irish pub recently. It’s been awhile since I’ve been at a bar/pub past 9 o’clock without the presence of my offspring or my husband and on a Saturday night to boot. While I had a good time and got to dance to a few songs, it was a tad reminiscent of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure—traveling back in time to my college days when I was so much cooler and could stay up past 10:00 p.m. without yawing. Or wishing I was in my elastic-waist fuzzy pants. Or yearning for a cup of tea and a good book. For those of you who may not get to venture out to the wild side very often, here are some of my observations of pubbing it then and now.
THE CONVERSATIONS ARE DIFFERENT: Back in college when at a bar, I’m pretty sure the conversation revolved around what hot guys were where, who was looking at whom and, what-do-you-think-of-my-outfit-do-I-look-okay? If you did stray from those self-absorbed topics, it was to talk about what you were drinking (Midori sour? Kamikaze? Jager bomb? Flaming Dr. Pepper?) and of course what you wanted to drink next. That’s pretty much it. In between those intellectual conversation pieces, you would dance. And dance. And dance. Watch people dancing. Go pee. Dance some more.
Post-college-marriage-children conversations at the pub were a tad more personal. We talked about our mom panties. How hard it is to find sexy undergarments when your butt is the size of the kegerator you once admired for totally different reasons. How shopping at Victoria Secret is no longer enjoyable now that you realize there is nothing in that store that will make you look the least bit sexy without some serious beer goggles and a black light, coupled with an insane amount of personal grooming and holding in the gut your children left as a constant reminder of their presence. And most importantly, how we could really give a rat’s ass about it all anyway. We’re married. The buffet is over and we’re only serving up one dish. It’s take it or leave it at this point. We’ve accepted this.
IT’S REALLY, REALLY LOUD: I’m sure it’s my memory failing me due to old age, but I don’t recall bars being so loud. They were loud of course, but I don’t remember losing my voice after the second sentence of my first conversation back in my twenties. That’s before the band started playing. I also don’t remember this ringing in my ears. I’m not sure if I’ve damaged my ear drums or if it’s the ringing of silence I’m hearing. I recall nodding a bunch that evening; smiling and nodding and I couldn’t tell you what some people were even talking about. For all I know they could have said to me, “So, I see your belly is hanging over your low-waisted pants a little and it looks as though you are trying to be cool, but you’re really not pulling it off are you?” and I would have nodded, smiled, and yelled, “Absolutely! I couldn’t agree more!” It’s also difficult to be funny when it’s that loud because a punch line really needs more than an audience of one and it sure as hell isn’t funny on the repeat. After someone asks, “WHAT?” for the second time, you might as well move onto the next joke. Funny is over. Take another drink.
I also don’t remember needing Ibuprofen when I got home from the bar in college, unless it was a preventative measure trying to stave off a potential hangover. We were nothing if not prepared for the potential hangover. In my responsible mom-status I nursed two glasses of wine while interspersing sips of ice water just to keep me level headed and sans headache in the morning. There is no better definition of hell than having a hangover and having to take care of three kids and do chores. Oh and go to church. You can’t miss church for a hangover, because I think it’s like, a double sin or something. Even if Jesus did turn water to wine at Cana.
WE DANCED TO POPULAR MUSIC BACK IN COLLEGE: I’m on the dance floor with my friends. We’re jiving to 80’s and 90’s music sung by a band called Mid-Life Crisis (MLC). That’s a band people our age can really love. It was reassuring to see all members of this male group were not only rocking their guitars, but grey hair as well. We were in our element, dancing as if we were back in college. I’m pretty sure I didn’t see any twenty-something’s moving their bodies in quite the same way we were. For one thing there were less arms. Our generation liked to use arms. Young people prefer to hold their drink in one hand and their cell phone in the other. Not us. Ours are way above our head moving back and forth in wave like motion. During the band’s 20-minute break, the DJ started up. More mom favorites were on the way, as we danced to “Party in the USA” and a song by Justin Beiber, mostly because these songs are on our children’s iPod playlists and we know them by heart. Looking around, all the twenty-somethings were standing on the dance floor swilling their beverages as they waited for the “kiddy” songs to pass so they could gyrate to something significantly more popular and obscene. Like anything from Rihanna or Ke$ha.
WE KNOW WHEN TO CALL IT QUITS: I’ll say that the majority of us at the party knew when to call it a night. The birthday girl and some of her close friends closed the place down, but I’m pretty sure no one was heaving on their shoes when they left. And it was her 40th birthday for heaven’s sake. Everyone should stay up past one o’clock on their 40th birthday because there is a good chance you won’t see the likes of that hour again unless your basement’s flooding, a natural disaster hits, or you are waiting for one of your errant children to come home from a date.
By 11:30 I was ready to go. My feet hurt. My head hurt. I had a great time, but I was ready for the silence of my partially clean living room and the thick nap of my drawstring pants. I asked the friend I came with, “Are you okay to drive home?” I was trying to be funny. She nursed two glasses of wine same as me, but that’s the question you ask anyone who’s leaving a bar, so I asked it, even though I knew she was. She replied:
“Well, I am a little tired..”
There it was folks. The nail in the coffin.You know you are officially past your prime pub days when your concern shifts from driving drunk to driving while fatigued. I took my boots off outside the restaurant and walked back to the vehicle in my socks. We slid our tired butts into her blazing red mom van outfitted with three car seat boosters and headed for home. It was nice to pretend for an evening and live a little longer with the illusion that I could still pull it off if I had to. Good thing I don’t have to very often.
Has your party life continued without pause since your drunken youth? Or has age reigned you in? Do you miss anything about those days? How many of you can still party like a rock star? (I’ll pour myself a drink and read your comments!)
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Rachel Vidoni is a professional writer and blogger and former classroom teacher. She is a mediocre mother to three pretty neat kids. You can follow her humor and family blog at www.eastcoastmusings.blogspot.com. You might not be a better parent after reading her blog, but you will feel like one. Follow her on Twitter @RachelVidoni