The reunion of my best girlfriends from high school can now be called an “annual event.” That’s because
technically you can’t call something an annual event until it’s happened twice. Last year I hosted the
inaugural, and while I enjoyed the company, it’s more fun to be a guest.
This year’s hostess invited us to her vacation home in Bethany Beach, Delaware and specified we were
welcome any time after 4:00 PM. Apparently, we were all raised right because no one was early. I left
after work and was the last to arrive at about 10:00 PM.
Every hellish minute in I-95 traffic was worth it when I was greeted by six screaming ladies on the front
porch, brandishing wine glasses. Each of them embraced me in turn and continued to scream their
greetings in my ear. If you’re ever feeling low, be the last one to arrive at a reunion of half-tanked high
school friends. It’s an amazing ego boost. At that point in the festivities the air conditioner repairman
might have gotten the same reaction, but I’ll take the love just the same.
I was offered food and beverages immediately by my amazing hostess. This was the girl in high school
who most guys wanted to date but got too tongue tied in her presence to form the words. Strangely enough, all that adoration never went to her head. To this day that amazes me. After all the screaming had stopped she took me by the hand, looked very seriously into my eyes and said, “Would you like some chocolate lava cake?”
I turned down the chocolate lava cake but managed to drink waaaay too much Prosecco. So much so
that I fell out of my bunk and had to be tended to by the group’s remaining cogent person. Thank you
Dr. P. I owe you one. She informed me the next morning that I speak fluent Wookie. Who knew?
The rest of the weekend was wonderful. Time on the beach, good food, nonstop talking. I’m still
touched by the memories we all own of each other. It’s like the various puzzle pieces form a complete
We talked a lot about parenting; the way we were parented, the way we parent our kids, and the way
our kids are raising their own kids. I’m more convinced than ever that having a safe and stable home life
is the most important gift you can give a child. It doesn’t have to fit traditional models, but simple
stability is crucial. I’m in awe of the women who could create stable and loving homes when that was
not their experience growing up.
I’m hoping to raise a glass of Presecco among these precious friends for many years to come. We should
probably take turns being the last one to arrive.
Thank you for visiting,
When a child is born in Kuwai the extended family traditionally hosts a party called an Istiqbal. I must assume Istiqbals vary with income, health of child, and other factors. I can only speak definitively to those celebrations I attended.
Often an Istiqbal is held within two days of the baby’s birth in the hospital and it’s a BDD (Big Damn Deal). This is a catered event held in open-house style over a three to four hour time period. The mother is dressed up in a fancy peignoir (something Lana Turner, Doris Day, or Anette Funicello might wear in a movie) with full makeup and hair, tucked into a great big fancy hospital bed with a lacey coverlet. Servers pass fancy chocolates, finger sandwiches, and beverages among the dozens of guests wandering around the room, cooing at the baby, congratulating the extended family, and catching up with one another. The father and immediate family members form sort of a reception line to greet folks and receive congratulations. How is this achieved in a hospital room you may ask?
This particular hospital had maternity suites that resemble something you’d find at an MGM Grand, but bigger and fancier. If the family needs more room for an Istiqbal, or wants a more formal venue, this hospital has a grand hall which I wandered into by mistake when it was not in use. It’s a reception hall with the fancy bed at one end, chairs lining the walls, crystal chandeliers, gilded mirrors, and all other manner of ritzy stuff. I was relieved to hear the actual birth is still a private affair.
When this tradition was first described to me I was horrified. It sounded cruel to put a new mother through such a fuss shortly after giving birth. But the new moms I met explained that it’s actually really nice for a number of reasons. In most cases, everything is done for you by your family members or the hospital staff. All you have to do is lie in bed, look nice, and take compliments on your beautiful new baby. If you need to excuse yourself for the myriad reasons a new mom might, there is an adjoining room in which to do so. It is understood that well-wishers will visit the new baby only during the Istqbal and not at other times during the hospital stay or when mother and baby come home. This relieves the new mom of “pop in visits” and having to entertain multiple times over a period of weeks or months. Once I looked at it this way, it made more sense.
I was fortunate to attend two of these celebrations during my visit. One was at the hospital and one was at a private home. I must say, the hospital party seemed like a lot less work for the new mom and her family.
In general, the birth of a child in Kuwait seemed more like an occasion for multi-generational celebration and less like a medical procedure than it does in the States. I liked that. But I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with all those people pawing my newborn and giving me unsolicited advice. If there is unsolicited advice to be given, I refer to be the giver not the receiver. Also I would look ridiculous in a fluffy peignoir.
This is my last post about my trip to Kuwait and I thank my hosts and hostess, all three generations, from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you for taking the journey with me,
Photo credit http://www.royalehayat.com/en_Jasmine.cms
My dad was unintentionally hilarious. He once asked me, in all seriousness, “Where do we keep the ice cream?” Another time he ate a bag of gerbil food at my sister’s house thinking it was granola. Google “Absent Minded Professor” and you may just find a picture of my dad looking confused. While my sainted mother was usually able to find humor in my father’s cluelessness, there were times when it wasn’t so funny.
One Mothers’ Day when my sister and I were far too young to understand the concept, my father found my mother out in the yard pulling weeds and weeping into the dandelions. When he asked her why she was upset, she informed him that it was Mothers’ Day and he’d done nothing to mark the occasion. He replied, “Well, you’re not MY mother.” They had no more children.
I assumed this male duh-factor was attributable only to my father. Then I got married.
My husband was at a work event and chatting with a young man who had recently become engaged. He told my husband the wedding was set for June of the following year. My husband replied, “My wife and I were married in June too.” The young man asked, “What date?” My husband said, “ June first.” The Young man said, “That’s today.”
So two generations of clueless men… coincidence or evidence based trend? Then I had a son.
One day when he was in college he called me from the Verizon store. “Hey Mom, (he always starts with “Hey Mom”). I need our account password to update my phone. “No, problem honey,” I replied. “The password is my birthday.” Pause… pause… pause…from my son’s end of the line. Then he says, “What do you mean it’s your birthday?” I say, “You know, the day, the month, and the year. Like you fill out on a form.” Pause…pause…pause. After a few more moments of pure evilness on my part, I let him off the hook and gave him the password. I’ve come up with far more sophisticated passwords since then, like the dog’s name or my address.
I’ve heard there are men who remember such events without being reminded by their spouses or Hallmark. Kind of like unicorns or flattering swimsuits. And I’m not saying that male spouses and offspring don’t have other attributes, like opening jars and sticking up for you in bar fights. Perhaps I just expect too much?
There was the Mothers’ Day I spent in a hot crowded emergency room tending to my own mother, then came home to find my husband, daughter, and son had redecorated the alcove in my bedroom to look like the beach houses I love. Or my first Mothers’ Day when I came home after a night shift to find my baby daughter fat, happy, and sleeping soundly. There were also flowers, but the gift that year was having a husband who could love our child and participate in her care as much as I did.
Yes, it’s the mothers, wives, and daughters who keep the wheels oiled on the social locomotive. Who do you think came up with Mothers’ Day in the first place? But when they remember, the partners in parenthood do get it right sometimes, and get it right in a big way.
As for me, my daughter and I will Skype and my son is taking me out for brunch. Might be a good idea to make reservations Bud. It’s the busiest day of the year at restaurants.
Thank you for visiting,
About a year ago I hosted six of my closest female friends from high school for a mini-reunion. This may have been the first time all of us had been together in one place since graduation; I know it was the first time we’d been together without the distractions of spouses, children, or other classmates.
There is something about hosting women that sends me into crazed-preparation mode. If I’m hosting a man, I might clean the toilet. If I’m hosting a woman I turn into Rosie Jetson on rocket fuel, dusting the basement rafters and detailing the cat. When did I become more concerned with the looks of my house than my own looks? Is it just me?
When you’re hosting, events tend to go by in a blur as you’re dealing with details, and that’s what happened to me with this reunion. But there are some lasting impressions.
Sorry to be cliché but, “we picked right up as though we’d never been apart,” sharing our memories, lives, and emotions. There’s something about spending your teenage years together that creates an enduring bond of familiarity.
We talked about boyfriends and spouses. We compared notes about the high school guys we dated, what they were like, why the relationships ended. Our fumblings with teenage lust and infatuation were pretty funny. Some of the lines guys used back then are really hilarious! For instance, “Don’t you just love the way skin feels on skin? Let’s pull up our shirts and touch stomachs.” Two of the ladies married their high school sweethearts, one of whom has the closest thing to a fairy tale marriage I’ve ever known. The other high school marriage lasted only a few years. We also talked about betrayal and the scars it leaves on your ability to trust going forward.
We talked about losing our parents, a discussion that led to revelations about my classmates’ childhood struggles that I didn’t know about at the time. I realized I was tremendously self-absorbed back then, and I hope that’s changed. It was fun to hear their memories of my parents, who were considered “quirky” for the times. My dad told a friend her prom dress looked just like our shower curtain. Another was made to sit on our front porch during dinner for calling him “sir” one too many times. Intellectually we all know we’re now the senior generation and next in line for the cosmic compost heap, but I don’t think any of us are really ready to accept it yet.
After all the reminiscing and catching up, we talked about motherhood. When you’re the mother of sons, your energy goes into keeping them alive until adulthood. When you’re the mother of daughters you just try not to kill them. Several of us had received calls from our sons that went like this, “Hey mom, how’s it going? Just out of curiosity, what’s my blood type?” My son actually called me once and said, “Hey mom, when do you know it’s time to go to the emergency room?”
We also talked about parenting experiences that did not end in amusing anecdotes. I was deeply touched by two of the women who were witnessing their adult children go through tragic losses, and were deeply affected by their inability to make the pain go away as they did when their kids were young.
As I sat among these friends, feeling a profound sense of wisdom and survival, I glanced up and saw one of the ladies pressing her bare butt checks against the picture window, mooning us. We laughed until Chardonnay came out our noses. Some things never change.
Thank you for visiting and I hope you’ll share comments and advice about your own reunion experiences.