Tuesday, September 7, 2010

labor pains

Sometimes you just need a margarita. Or twelve.

Tonight, of course, I couldn't make use of that particular coping mechanism. Lest I counteract my 3oo dollar antibiotic cycle and risk the mysterious "very bad reaction" the pharmacist foretold. But I made a few anyway and that was a party. The ladies drank them. And god saw that it was good.

There is such a thing as Girls' Night, and it covers all manner of sins. We have cultivated this tradition across the ages. We the seed gatherers, the wheat threshers, the women. From a ruddy congregation in the dark of the signal fire to the more finely evolved modern survival schema of baked goods and elastic waistbands, we've been making molehills out of mountains for centuries.

You see, there are moments in every woman's life that call for introspection, and there others that require processing—by committee. Times get tough enough, hurts get harsh enough, the lemon pile reaches the flood line, et voilà! The herd convenes for baying and keening and the licking of wounds.

A good Girls' Night can be anything, anywhere. A terrible movie and a ten ton tub of popcorn. Microwave lasagne out of the cardboard carton. Sex and the City episodes on DVD. A six am drunken pizza party to ring in the new year. A handful of Kleenex and a bottle of wine. Fat pants and brownies. We are adaptable. We adapt.

Then there is Mexican Night, a particularly heartwarming subgenre involving equal parts estrogen, tequila and avocado. It doesn't take much—I've seen this manifest at Chili's bars and grills nationwide. But the medicine is no less potent. It's your bottle of XXX moonshine under the bathroom vanity cabinet. You pull these stops on special occasions and under duress. Or, you know, just because. (Although, at least in the lifespan of the average American woman, it's never "just because." Who among us can safely recall a day without a tragedy to tackle, else a victory to flaunt?) It's never the inbetween, ladies. The dog faces either upward or down. We peak and we valley. And in the hollows we seek solace in sisterhood and salted rims.

On one such evening, Valentine's Day, 2006, I split my middle finger open on a can of black beans making enchiladas to soak up a piña colada sobfest. Outside, former frat brothers marched up and down 3rd Avenue with bodega bouquets to escort their J Crew clad girlfriends to overpriced table d'hotes. Inside, my friend the EMT superglued me back to single girl wholeness and we went right on weeping and wailing, cursing the Hallmark holidays.

Even as a kid, I sensed the magic. I wasn't so tall then; I used chiles out of a can and I made a few righteous messes of home and hearth, but I knew. There are certain demons that can only be fought with cayenne peppers and grated cheese.

A sprig of cilantro, lime juice in a paper cut, the clink of grocery store glassware . . . the dosage doesn't have to be exact to drown out the din. Even for a moment. A few women come together over a bowl of corn chips and poof: All that ails you goes up in a cloud of calories.

Tonight was no different. The day after Labor Day, when the whole world went back to work. All our summer hopes began to spoil in the fruit basket. And, well, somebody somewhere must have summoned the Kraken. We merely answered its call. With Sauza Gold and grouper tacos.

Maybe, for an hour or two anyway, we feel a little less alone.


Scarlet-O said...

hah, you know, all this stuff is familiar as the back of my hand, but i've never actually had a girl's night... sounds healthy.

Phoenix said...

My girl friends and I try to have a Girl's Night at least once every couple months, to the utter perplexity and curiosity of our menfolk. Next time Benni asks what the hell we do for Girl's Night I'm gonna just point this post at him and say, "See? Proof is right here. It doesn't matter what we do or where we go...but women still find solace and comfortableness in each other in a way that men just don't understand."