‘We need a night out. It’s been way too long’, declared my friend Hayley.
’14 months, 2 weeks, 3 days and counting, to be precise’, I said, being scarily precise.
‘Shit. Someone’s been bored’ acknowledged Hayley, looking very afraid for my well-being. She promptly arranged a girls night out.
Now I was afraid for my wellbeing.
I hadn’t been out round town since the days when people went out at 8.00 and got kicked out of the nightclubs at 2 am followed by pizza, taxi rank, home. Most of my old haunts didn’t even exist anymore. It was official -I was a dinosaur. I also felt a bit unnerved at the prospect of leaving my little baby girl home alone. Well, obviously not home alone; she was in the very, veable hands of her very hands-on dad. But still. I felt a tad anxious.
‘If she wakes up, give her her dummy’, I instructed him.
‘I know’, he said, in a tone implying that he wasn’t stupid.
‘If you need me, just ring my mobile and I’ll come straight home’, I assured him.
‘Just go’, he said, shoving me out of the door. ‘You’ll enjoy it once you’re out. And I’ll see to the baby bright and early in the morning’. I think he wanted to settle down with a box set.
‘I’ll be home before 12.00; I won’t drink too much… ‘ I called after him, as he shut the front door in my face.
I got into the taxi yanking both sides of my skirt down and feeling incredibly self concious. My first attempt in months at ‘dressing up’ for a night out had nearly sent me over the edge. Like, why did I still look 3 months pregnant in my LBD? And how did I ever manage to walk in heels before? And why did my make up bag still contain some metallic blue mascara called ‘Girl Curl’ from about 1999? And why had my curling tongs left one side of my hair with spring coils and the other with a demi wave?
Anyway. I arrived at Hayley’s house to be greeted also by Liz, Helen, Georgia and Ruth. With the exception of Ruth, the others were all child-free. (This meant they had loads of hilarious stories to tell and Liz was mid-way through one about her date with Franco the Italian fish-man from Skelmersdale who tried to sell her some kippers).
‘Here, let me take your photo’. Helen wanted to upload some pics to facebook.
‘No chance’, I ducked for cover. ‘Look at me! No, on second thoughts, no, don’t bother…’.
Helen advised me to pout by pretending to blow a kiss, so I did as she recommended.
She took a pic of my and shoved it in-front of my face.
‘Ha ha ha – you look constipated’, she congratulated me, before sharing it with the world.
The girls proceeded to snap away, before uploading pictures of their wine glasses and bottles, whilst I text Chris to make sure the baby was okay.
Later on, we landed in town. It was dead.
‘It’s still early yet. Wait until midnight, it will be busy then’, forewarned Hayley.
‘Midnight? I was planning on being home by then’, I half joked. (Okay, more ‘3 quarters’ than ‘half’).
The girls shot me side-long glances as if I was a total bore.
Oh God, it had happened.
We sat in a pub and I ordered a diet coke in case I needed to go home soon, but just then Chris replied to say that the baby was fine. ‘Fast asleep’ to be precise.
Feeling reassured, I wondered if I should have a few drinks after all. I mean, Ruth (who had Jacob, aged 1) had been on the Prosecco in Hayley’s before we left and it had certainly got her into the groove. No sign of stiff cardboard around here where Ruth was. She was on the dance-floor looking as if she was warming up to do a work-out. She forward lunged her way around the dance-floor, and then it was crunch time. She then appeared to be cooling down with an all over body shake. Way to go Ruth!
Previous to having my child. I’d always considered not drinking alcohol when you’re out as something regarded as a good thing for pregnant women only. No bun in the oven, and you’re generally a dullard. That, or a recovering alcoholic. You could use the fact that you’re driving as an excuse, but then you’re persuaded to abandon the car and take a cab instead. But my excuse was a valid one here too. Could I really cope with a hangover and a baby?
We headed to another bar and it had started to fill up with a younger crowd.
I craned my neck around the side of a pillar where tiny waisted girls with even tinier skirts were grouped together. ‘You do know this place is filling up with 12 year olds?’ I asked the girls.
‘Yeah. But you’ll feel like a teenager again. It’s like therapy’ replied Ruth. I felt ancient.
I think I knew what therapy I needed; it was clear and liquid form and had about 40 percent volume. The place looked as if it hadn’t been refurbished since the 90’s tune currently being played had been released. The mini-skirts on the dance floor were probably a pea-nut in their mothers womb when that song charted. Still, we were here now, so we all hacked our way through Jungle Jims and got ourselves a drink. I got myself a vodka and coke.
The next bar was a little better.
This time, I glanced around the room, clutching my bag next to my tummy, eyeing other girls in the bar as if they were applicants all after the same job, holding their CV’s, all selling themselves to be funny and attractive too.
I text Chris.
‘Is the baby ok?’
‘Can you go and check on her please?’
‘I did. 5 minutes ago. Enjoy your night’.
I ordered myself another vodka and diet coke and I began to feel free. Relaxed. After my third, I began to feel a bit light-headed. It had gone staight to my head after not drinking for so long.
Two men on the other side of the bar, with balding heads, were now grinning at me. Winking. They were trying to reel me in with imaginary fishing equipment. When they began trying to capture me with an imaginary net, I clambered up out of my seat, and headed towards the dance-floor. The music was pumping, and me, the former piece of stiff cardboard, well, I was finding it difficult to escape the rhythm.
I wiggled my way to thedance-floor, swaying and sidestepping and trying my luck with a bit of bump and grind. I scanned the dance floor for the girls, suddenly wanting to impress them all by throwing some shapes of my own.
A man gave me the once over. Impressed by my shapes? To clarify, I was a happily married woman– but it was nice just to be noticed by someone of the opposite sex, at least, for the first time in what felt like forever. A mate of his leaned over and whispered something in his ear, at which point, he looked back at me and appeared to started laughing. They seemed to make up their mind about something and then suddenly, both men were gone.
Hmmmmpphh! I had been under the assumption that the smiles from the men were flirting. The realisation that I was the object of their amusement made me wonder what on earth had possessed me to come out round town!
Over the next thirty minutes or so, I had several more vodka and diet cokes. I had my bum slapped so hard by an older man that it almost stung and I was proposed to by man who appeared to have just stopped off at Earth for on overnight visit. I ordered one more vodka, but this one appeared to tip me over the edge. I went from chilled to sloppy in minutes and began to empty my head onto the nearest available people.
It was soon the turn of a poor Irish man I located called Fergus?
‘So tell me, Fergus…’
‘Of course. Feargal. Like Feargal Sharkey!’ I broke out into a wonky and loud version of ‘A Good Heart’, but Feargul didn’t look impressed. ‘Anyway, Feargal, I’m sorry’. I’d began to prod poor Feargal in the chest with every new word I uttered. ‘You’re -Irish! I nearly went out with Irish man once. I -bet -you’re -Catholic. You’re supposed to be forgiving. Do yooooou. Think I’mmmmm . A good perrrrson?’
‘Erm..I have no idea’.
‘Well, I ammmmm!’
‘I-try-harrrrd -I-do. And-God-loves- a-trier. Does he?’
‘And people. They sometimes do baaaaaad things. And I don’t because I’mmmmm a goooooood person. So why do bad things happen to good people?’ I was beginning to get upset about it. ‘And what about Great Auntie Lynne? She was a good person. And now she will be upset seeing me like this.’
‘Why, where is she?’, Feargal looked around himself.
‘Up there’, I pointed towards the roof. ‘In heaven’.
Hayley made a few appearances every now and then and suggested we all go home, but I was no-where near ready to leave. I had began to enjoy my first night out in over a year and it might another year before I got to go out again…
‘I believe in God. I go to church’, I told Feargal, which was sort of true. Ish. I didn’t dare not believe in God in-case he really was out there and he threw me into the burning fire when my time finally came. And I went to Church for like, weddings. Or at Christmas.
I’d been once as a student with my friend Fiona. It was Christmas, before the term break, and we’d been inspired to attend Midnight Mass after 6 large ones in the student Union. Unfortunately, we were feeling a bit too festive, and no sooner had the mass started when everything just seemed ridiculously funny. Fiona snorted because the priest said ‘Ass’ and I couldn’t look at her for fear of an outbreak. And then he talked about the resurrection and it sounded like erection and the pair of us chanced a glance at each other and exchanged warning looks. People began shooting silent stares around the pews, and hushed whispers grew around the stone walls of the church and the next day, I was wracked with guilt and spent the whole day making a deal with God for forgiveness.
Anyway, the night in question eventually came to an end when Hayley insisted that we were all definitely going home, and practically threw me into the nearest cab. I smiled dreamily. I rested my dizzy head on the window, my head full of memories of my amazing dancing, my new beautiful friends , our hugs and spilled drinks, and then suddenly, my mind was a blank.
The morning after.
‘Ok, it’s not the end of the world’, I reassured myself. How on earth had I navigated my way into my own bed?
I most definately had not missed the feeling on anxiety that occured the morning after the night before where drinking was concered. I was about to beg Chris to go and get me a McDonalds when Hayley rang.
The key, I figured, was to act as if everything was as it should be.
‘Hi how do you feel?’ was Hayley’s opening sentence when I answered the phone.
‘Great’, I lied, worrying at my fingernails.
‘Great?’, she sounded surprised.
I’d been certain that I’d been a merry but fun person the night before, but now her tone was planting a seed of doubt in my mind.
‘Um. Yes. Great. Why?’
‘You were wasted.’
‘You were hilarious. Do you remember that guy you were talking to? A guy called Feargus. You kept calling him fungus?’
‘Ha ha. Oh er.. yeah…sorry’, I shook my head in shame. I wanted to fly off to another country very, very far away.
‘And you kept telling everyone that you were a good person and that you went to church. Do you go to church Mel?’
‘Erm, no…’, I shook my head again.
‘…you fell off your stool, you wouldn’t leave at the end of the night even when the lights came on…
‘…you went missing on your own for about an hour and we all looked everywhere for you. Do you know where you went?’
Oh God, no. I didn’t know the answer. I was the weakest link. Time was up. I was the one whose brain was closed for repairs. I was a couple of brain-cells short of a brain. In this round, I had banked nothing.
I laughed nervously. ‘Erm. No.Where was I?’
‘On the dance-floor. On your own. Jumping around like an ostrich that had been shot’. (Aahha hhha yes). ‘I’ve got a video of you on my phone (Oh, No). Why did people these days have to ruin your life by videoing everything?!
‘Don’t worry. Ruth’s dancing looked as if she was having an epileptic fit, ’she sympathised. ‘Helen nearly rang the emergency services’.
I felt relieved again!
‘And you were actually quite well behaved compared to Georgie. Georgie saw her boss in the taxi rank and she nearly fell asleep on her. She pulled her forward and said if she did it again she was going to sack her!’
‘And then she tried to negotiate her own taxi fee. £10 and not a penny more according the Georgia-o-meter. Ha ha ha’!
‘I think we’ll all need a good chill tonight’,
‘Not a chance’, I agreed. ‘Not with a child to look after!
‘Oh no. Poor you….’.
‘Thanks. I won’t feel a bit well.’
‘Take some aspirins’.
‘Thanks’, I sighed, adding, just before I hung up-
’I had a great time though. Same time next year?’
‘U betcha’ xx