My Cinderella Nights — how to awaken your inner Princess

The house arrest ankle bracelet of motherhood started to loosen when my kids were in their early teens, so I gave myself permission to go out once a month — guilt-free — for what I coined a Cinderella Night — an evening of adventure with friends who did not define me as mother or wife. When the clock would strike midnight, I’d leave a slipper behind as a sign I’d return, and then rush home with a little skip in my step to the invisible life as mom.

As my kids got older, my Cinderella Nights got bolder, and became more of a state of mind. As Melissa T. Shultz writes in her new book, I was metamorphosing From Mom to Me Again.

Below is a list of my top ten Cinderella Nights that I share with you to imitate or better yet to inspire you to create your own Cinderella Nights. We all have an inner princess, but we don’t need a prince to waken her.

1 — Date a Gay — I have met and befriended homosexual men who share my love of the performing arts. On our nights out, I dress up and pretty myself knowing my escort will not only notice, but will earnestly compliment how I look; and then to boot he won’t fall asleep during the show.

2 — Put the Fun in a Fun Run — Participate in a Chardonnay Run. It’s an untimed 5K event with Barefoot Wine at the finish line. ‘Nuff said.

3- Friend a Waiter — I have a tendency to chat up the wait staff as many have great other life stories. Several, in fact, have become friends. While lunching with my girlfriends, we learned that our waiter was also a Broadway wig stylist. This fascinated me. After lunch, we were on a mission to find a wig store so we could return with one for him to style. Buying a wig is like adopting a pet — the wig finds you. When we returned, the waiter burst into hysterics, but more importantly Amber Live & Yeoi were born that day. Amber Live became my Cinderella alter ego.

4 — When it rains in the Adirondacks, get a bear — Every summer a college friend invites a handful of us to her lake house for a girl’s weekend. One time it rained, so our planned outdoor activities were cancelled. We wandered around the shops in the little town. A full sized bear in a country store caught my eye and couldn’t resist bringing him home. That led to lots of silly bear inspired activities…. “Bear at the Bar…” “Bear on the Boat” “Bear in the Band.” When it rains, find the rainbow.

5 — Dance at a Clothing Optional Bar — The Garden of Eden in Key West is an outdoor tropical open air bar. The DJ spins great tunes and literally anything goes. There is usually a saggy-skinned naked man or two at the bar while fully clothed to various stages of undress revelers dance. A bulky young lesbian wearing shorts and bra pointed at me signaling for me to dance with her. While we grooved, she urged me to take off my shirt too. Fortunately I was wearing an unflattering bra, so resisted the temptation to please — to the relief of my less uninhibited friends. BTW — any sort of lose yourself to the music night of dancing will do.

6- It’s Not Stripping — Frustrated with the fits and starts of my career, I said to my husband “I could always become an exotic dancer.” It really did not warrant a response, but saying “I was too old” was definitely the wrong one. So I decided to attend a class, as I couldn’t be indignant if I didn’t know how to walk the walk or rather dance the pole. I thought it best to do a private pole-dancing lesson first. While I had the strength to hold the pole with my legs/abs I couldn’t handle the simple dance routine. The instructor even asked me if I had come stoned — I hadn’t. She thought I might like Schtick a Pole In It — a stand up comedy and pole dancing monthly review. Some were born to do while others are meant to watch. While I recommend trying a class, attending a show can be as much fun. I’ve been twice and still have serious pole-envy.

7 — Get a Gimmick — As Burlesque dancers come in all shapes, sizes and ages, I though perhaps Burlesque was more realistic second career goal than pole-dancing. I attended an “Intro to Burlesque” group class but as I’m flat chested, I looked like I was having a seizure when asked to strut around the room in heels while shimmying. Same logic as above, I’ve brought my friends to The Slipper Room, a lost in time burlesque club to satisfy my inner Gypsy Rose Lee.

8 — Have Your 15 Seconds of Fame — Having seen my fair share of “Get Happy” lip dub videos, I wanted to create my own. If you have a special song, no shame, an iphone and imovie, you can create your own music video and post it to YouTube. Mine is Milli Vanilli as it seemed ironic.

9- Order Special Drinks — who can resist a drink with an ice pop in it with friends? It was worth the hour wait to get into the trendy downtown rooftop bar that overlooks the Hudson River. However, the “Cinderella Night” spoiler was when we ran into my daughter’s friends and they screamed from across the crowded bar… “Hi, Mrs. Jentis!….”

10 — It’s 5:00 o’ clock Somewhere — Attend a Jimmy Buffet concert and tailgate. ‘Margarittaville’ philopshy is definitely in sync with that of Cinderella Nights, so I joined a NY Parrot-head club on Facebook and purchased four tickets to the concert at Jones Beach. This adventure became a mother/daughter event with another friend and her grown daughter when my rising college senior daughter asked if she could use two of the tickets. I was pleasantly surprised and said “of course!’ We shopped together before the concert and found the perfect Parrot-head outfits and paraphernalia at American Apparel.

The parking lot was full of elaborate beach party themed tailgates as far as the eye could see. Since we were there with cute girls, my friend and I got invited to the hot young guy parties vs. the older die-hard Boomer parties. Our tailgate even had a swimming pool — a water filled bed of a pick up truck.

We blended in thanks to our silly outfits and alcohol vision. In fact an awkward twenty-something desperately wanted me to sleep over at his walking distance house that night. While I had no intentions, when I learned he lived with his parents it made the offer harder to resist…

On the ride home my daughter who has attended Bonaroo and many of the other trendy Millenial concerts, said this was the best concert she had ever attended.

My Cinderella Nights originally started as a way to temporarily run away from my life for a night without really running away — my rule was simple ‘it could be anything as long as it did not hurt anyone I love.” However, I found as I embraced my inner Princess, I no longer looked at these nights as running away, but part of my journey to become a more authentic version of myself and still be Mom. As a result, my Cinderella Nights are now my norm, and adventures abound with friends as well as with my family.

I encourage you to channel your inner princess, and take a little break from yourself for a night — on your own terms — #nofear #noregrets. And then… share your Cinderella Night stories.

Thanks for reading.