Few things strike fear more than the moment before my bank balance is revealed, and being invited to a hen party. It’s not the women per se, or the variety of them, or the number of them – I am one with innumerable personalities of my own after all. It’s just the women, the variety of them, and the number of them (according to one of those personalities).
You know how we all generally have different mates that draw out various aspects of our personality more than others? There’s the more serious you, the maggot-acting you, the riled-up you, the cheese-appreciating you, the yarn-telling you, the hyena-laughing you, the over-earnest you, the slightly-more-confessional you, the obsessive you etc. etc. Then there’s your best mate who you’re the nearest to being totally free with and with whom you can talk in euphemisms until she finally calls a halt and demands to know what the fuck you’re talking about when you say he likes his tea upside down?
Well, for the first few hours, a hen party is like going on a blind-date with variations of them on a school reunion for the class five years behind in a random pub with everyone pissed out of their heads on smiles. Consequently, they tend to make me very tired and lead to my premature escape. Just on the cusp of chaos before anyone can be accused of looking at someone “funny”. Oh yeah. There’s funny haha. Funny weird. And the final funny in the holy trinity of funnies – are-you-looking-at-me-funny? funny. Predominately found among the inland towns of the North, parts of Leitrim, smatterings of the Midlands, young people aged 13 – 16 everywhere, and there’s a higher-than-average propensity towards it among adults with surnames beginning with O’ and Mc.
Why, I’d just LOVE to go
All and all, they’re treacherous affairs best avoided. But as a carrier of one of the aforementioned surnames and first generation insincerity, I accepted an invitation recently with an enthusiasm so overbearing, I probably qualify as funny weird. No sooner had I donned the mandatory themed gear, when all my personae predictably made a bee-line for my big mouth smack in the middle of a group of strangers. These are confusing and dangerous occasions. They require a period of settling-down where one must await the conversational match-making gremlins to do their work.
Somewhere along the way the name-settings were switched. The over-eager-listener me got cornered by Sara who was in the middle of house-hunting, had a pronounced antipathy towards students, and a compulsion for revealing her bemusement at the number of cross-dressing customers visiting the second-hand shop she occasionally volunteers in. These Christian types. Their inclusiveness is a credit to fundamentalists everywhere. “Right”, I kept responding, which was probably too subtle a jibe.
Relief arrived in Michelle, who was about to make the leap into matrimony shortly herself but couldn’t find a fuck to give about it. Wahey. Within twenty minutes we were bent double with laughter at our respective examples of how we attempt to behave professionally in the work place. She surpassed herself by laughing uproariously at my worrying Mary Robinson claw predicament while I bent backwards under the weight of the guffaw at her method of listening to her boss. It was all going wonderfully until someone ruined it with the announcement that the Chinese had arrived. Off she went to freshen up leaving the maggot-acting me to grind the train of thought on everyone being a bit mental in one way or another to a halt with Tina.
But Tina was half-way through an emphatic rant on maternity welfare benefit. In the end I had to dig out the riled-up me just to stay awake. “It’s only going to get worse with the Tories back in!” My new get-out-of-jail response.
And so to dinner, and back pretending to be grown-ups. “So what do you do yourself?”, countered Anne to my enthusiastic dot-joining on how we knew the hen. Oh no, not the job question. The dull me was already shot to hell after enduring a monotonous exchange on the summer weather so far that ended in a cliff-hanger when Caroline (who I kept calling Catherine while apologising for doing so) was interrupted by an urgent need for me to have a wee. All the talk on rain didn’t help. Thankfully, Anne was usurped by the Mr. & Mrs. Quiz klaxon (fork on the wine-glass, polite at first before quickly reaching Gestapo levels of authority and fear).
The final question was my cue to leave. Specifically that moment when the bride-to-be was pressed for an answer on which famous person she reckoned her fella said she looked like. Always a tense moment.
*five seconds of tension*
Another doppelganger for Andrea Corr! That’s every black-haired woman in Ireland who may or may not keep their internal organs in their handbags.
Mounting the wagon, I could see Michelle stoking the fire while everyone pulled their seats closer and huddled together as the first round of shots was fired. As it happened, I did have to be somewhere else the following morning. But for a brief moment, the more sociable me regretted the risk of missing out on the action.
You looking at me funny? *eyes narrow*