I have an amazing group of friends. I simply love each one of them, and what they bring to the group. Now, having said that, I’ve got to tell you: they’re nuts. Granted, not certifiably so, and probably not any more nuts than your group of friends, but nuts nonetheless.
So, I’ll give you a little background, along with some pseudonyms for each (because they’d kill me otherwise). Then, I’m going to share with you a typical conversation between us. Ready?
Seventeen years ago, when my oldest daughter began kindergarten, I was indoctrinated into the strange new world of elementary school parenting. It involved endless fundraisers, classroom parent politics, and countless Chuck E Cheese birthday parties.
For me, it also meant volunteering for anything and everything. Room parent? Yes! Yes, I can! Make 27 cupcakes in a moments notice? Sure thing!Also plan the classroom Halloween party (which means calling every parent in the class to donate and item or their time, then purchase or make all of the items that didn’t get dropped off). Holiday-don’t-say-Christmas-whatever-you-do Party? Why not?! Library volunteer, field trip chaperone, field day supervisor, assembly usher, Grandparents Day beverage server… So on. By the way, that was in no way a complaint, I freaking loved that shit.
It was only natural to become friendly with the other insane volunteer happy mothers, we had the common core experience of excessive involvement under the excuse of being for the benefit of our children. I think it just made us feel superior in some warped way. Regardless, we bonded through rushed lattes and yoga pants, and making plans to get together for a play date.
By the time the kids were first grade, the friendships began to solidify. We already knew who got who for a teacher, if our kids would all be together, and if not, did we have any pull to make that happen? The old PTO regime was out, and we were in. Add School store manager as another feather in my cap, to be followed later, in Second grade, by fundraising co-chairperson. I’d hit the big time, folks. We were Elementary School Royalty. We were (self) Important.
Back in kindergarten, I’d met the friend who we all consider as the benevolent captain and leader of our crew. She was the one who drew us all in with her chipper voice, perky face, and spunky demeanor. In fact, for the purpose of this story, she will now be called Spunky. Spunky was and is the ultimate friend to all. She cannot bear for anyone to be left out, for injustices not to be righted, or for there to be more than moment of discord if she can help it. If she coordinates it, we will come. She is sweetness personified… Unless you piss her off. We try to never piss off Spunky. She’s like the hulk that way… Only tiny. And not green.
Through Spunky, who grew up in town and knew just about everyone, I met several of the rest of the gang. They are as follows, with condended descriptions:
Brassy & Noisy: They’re our loud ones. One’s got a mouth on her that can make a trucker blush. The other is equally loud, pretty opinionated, and not afraid to tell you what she thinks. Underneath that, though, they’re good hearted gals.
Sparky: she’s our fun loving good natured comedienne. Fancy: Always distracted, but an unwitting beauty. Sassy: Our tough (exterior) cookie but once you’re in, you’re in for life. Also my often time partner in the dog house. Peachy: our chronologically oldest member, loves to talk about dead or dying people that we don’t know, but that’s ok. Snappy: our “newest” member (if you consider ten plus years new). She snaps us in line when we wander astray, whether we like it or not. She too, is a partner in crime of mine. We share the same snarky humor, keeps us semi-sane. Oh, me?! Hmm, I think I’ll be Cheeky (cause I like it) but technically, Spacey is probably more applicable. I just kinda drift in and out and through. Taking mental notes.. for this.
So, the scene is set as follows. Nine women, gather for dinner to celebrate one of each others birthdays (everybody gets a birthday dinner, that’s the rule). Every single dinner conversation goes something like this:
Spunky: “Hey, hey guys,” over the din, ” Hey I just want to… hello, I just want to say–”
Brassy: “I wanna say this damn bra is too frickin tight.”
Sassy: “Nice, very nice.”
Noisy: “Get a load a this one coming in”
Peachy: ” I don’t know why you guys din’t just come over the house, I could’ve cooked this all for a lot less”
Spunky: ” Um, hello, trying to make a toast here…”
Snappy: “Oh, for the love of God, everyone shut up so Spunky can make her toast.”
Spunky: ” Thank you, I just want to say that___”
Sparky: ” Hi guys, sorry I’m late!”
Collective greetings of varying degrees ensue. As do six different and simultaneous discussions. Spunky, to only the observation of Snappy and I, thunks her wine glass down, and now looks mad. She tries to catch one of our eyes, but we quickly look away. And drink. Spunky decides to try again,
“Guys, I just want to take a moment and sa—-”
Fancy: “Has anyone seen my glasses?”
Sparky, Brassy, and Sassy: “They’re on your head.”
Noisy: ” Uh Oh, Spunky’s getting mad. Go on, honey say your little speech.” This begins a ten min sidebar fight between them. Snappy and I take a drink.
More incoherent and multiple dialogs commence, waiter arrives… no one has decided what they want and each defers to the next. We all decide that each others dinner sounds perfect, I’ll have the same. But can you put my sauce on the side? Oh, can you substitute fries for the greens? Can you make mine less spicy? You know what, I think I’ll have the scallops instead..” and so on. At this point, I think the waiter might cry. Sparky is telling him she’d like to put him in her purse and take him home. Peachy told him he’s the spitting image of her cousins’ boyfriend’s dead nephew. Spunky is feeling ignored by him, and wondering if it’s worth calling the manager over. Noisy is talking about her vast waitressing experience, she know what it’s like to be him. Fancy is looking for her lipstick. Snappy and I.. yah, we drink. At some point, someone says, “Hey, Cheeky, you’re awful quiet over there, whatcha doin?” And, really, at that moment, I’m imagining myself as this guy:
So, that’s what I say. Ten seconds of crickets chirping. Then full throttle again. I smile as I look around the table. Seventeen years of this have gone by. With fights at these dinner tables that seem like deal breakers in the moment. Yet, any given occasion: we’re there. Even if we want to punch someone in the throat, we show up. I hope to God we’re doing this in our 80’s, and I hope someone will video tape it and show it to us in our lucid moments. But for now, I’ll just soak up the insanity and enjoy. And probably do a mea culpa or two to whoever I’ve insulted here.
*As it so happens, I did indeed hurt someone’s feelings. The good humored teasing was not seen through the (to me, obvious) caricature of our personalities. I, in turn, felt hurt and disappointed that the intended love and humor was disregarded, and therefore tarnishing the fun of the post. Then I was reminded, by one of the other friends, that not every will like, or ‘get’ my humor. So I resisted the urge to just delete the whole thing, or write the offended party out of it. So, I sucked it up and apologized, and chalked it up as lesson learned.