‘B-yy-eee!’ I sing song’d through the closing door.
‘Bye mum!’ a tiny voice called back. But I could hardly care.
If this were a movie, this is the part where the lighting would change, illuminating the protagonist’s euphoric expression with a golden glow. It would be shot at low angle and in slow motion to fully capture the triumphant moment. The wind machine would blow in her long luscious locks (this is my movie, I can have long hair!) and she would glide effortlessly to her awaiting car.
The reality looked far less glamorous, but the feeling was there, it was palpable… I was FREE… and I was going to a COCKTAIL PARTY!
That is what my lovely acquaintance had told me anyway. I had run into her at Coles buying party supplies, and when she extended an invite, I almost kissed her.
I love a party! I love to socialise and go out drinking and dancing more than almost anyone I know. Someone once told me in an attempt to either flatter or flatten me (you decide), that I’ll never say no to an invite out. And she was right. But since kids, the offers have dwindled, so too has the bank balance.
So this chance encounter with a friend of a friend had to be fate, right? Running into her like that, on a day when I was feeling particularly ‘mumsy’ and fed up? A trolley piled high with nappies and responsible staples for responsible family living. She was a beacon of mayhem amongst the mundane; pretty and smiley and piling mixers and boxes of party pies onto the register.
Oh yes she would be my saviour.
Five years earlier the lovely acquaintance and I, had had a stellar night out. We’d all been in a cracking mood, and had bonded over bad dates and our love of martinis.
So naturally, my expectations were high. She said ‘cocktails’, I thought dancing. She said ‘House Party’ and memories of youth skipped tantalisingly before me – party games, loud music and fits of drunken laughter!
Yes! yes! YES!!!
I would dust off those old stilettos I never get to wear, squeeze into that pre-baby dress that doesn’t really fit. Do that thing with my hair I used to do. When I clip-clopped down the driveway leaving a house full of children and husbandry behind me, I was ready to get the party started!
“Oh my God… you ACTUALLY came?!!” said the lovely acquaintance when she answered the door.
Ahh, yes… yes I had.
If this were a movie, this is the part where the short haired protagonist would stand uncomfortably (shot at a high angle of course), the sound of crickets chirping would be faded in to emphasise the awkwardness of the situation… perhaps a rolling tumbleweed in the distance?
Within seconds, something had become very clear. That invite, the one she had given me in the cue at Coles… that wasn’t a REAL invite, that was a just-being-polite-she-won’t-ACTUALLY-come invite.
Apparently, she hadn’t heard the news… I come to everything.
Oh… I think flatten…
One look at my two bottles of wine, my dress, those shoes (oh why did I wear THOSE shoes?) and I could feel the air stiffen between us. She was embarrassed for me – the only thing worse than embarrassment itself.
It seems I had become desperate to hold on to my old ‘Party-girl life’. I had become the mum who gets a little too drunk at weddings and makes dick jokes in front of her Nanna. The mum that dances so heartily she injures her neck and can’t turn left for a week…
The mum who accepts EVERY invite, no matter how tenuous.
Apparently one thing this mum was unwilling to fully accept was that her ‘Party Girl days’ were behind her. It never really occurred to me that having children would put an end to ‘all-nighters’, or doing stupid things at stupid-o’clock. I thought maybe I’d take a little time off (a month or two) and then, you know – get back in there.
And It was that yearning to get back in ‘the game’ and reclaim the fun, frivolous part of myself that had led me to the front door of my lovely acquaintance, and what could only be described as an ‘intimate gathering’ of close friends and family.
That night I met her fiancé, her nanna, her mum, her cousins, a couple of High School friends and even a baby or two. It certainly wasn’t the ‘House Party’ I expected, but I DID drink, I DID dance, (albeit with a toddler), and I DID fall into fits of laughter.
If this were a movie, the protagonist would leave the party, after being warmly farewelled by a bunch of people she would likely never see again. A close up of her wistful face would reveal that she had learnt a few things: 1) an invite isn’t ALWAYS an invite and 2) her ‘party girl’ ways might have to be on hold for a little while.
For now, she’ll have to settle for being a ‘Party Girl’, interrupted.
By Brooke Klaassen