When I was a kid, our family hosted dozens of holidays and parties at our house. And when I say “our family,” I mean my mom. It blows my mind now to think of the work she did. It wasn’t a party of, say, 20 people. For birthday parties, we’d often have close to 100 people in our somewhat small home.
She cooked for everyone. She was a one woman catering crew. Sure, my sisters and I would pitch in by pouring a bag of chips into a bowl ten minutes before everyone got there and think we were helpful. But then we would eat all the chips before anyone got there and my mom would refill the bowl.
When thinking about how women have influenced me and played an important role in my life, I always think of those parties. After dinner, everyone split into two factions; the men went downstairs and watched whatever sporting event was available to us on channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9 or 11, and the women stayed at the kitchen table to drink (presumably spiked) coffee and talk.
I remember often going downstairs to watch sports, because hey, I like sports. But aside from the occasional comment on the game we were watching, no one really talked. They’d drink their Buds and their Schlitz (Schlitzes?) and mostly sat in silence. While this was happening, I’d hear the laughter from upstairs.
Like, genuine, spontaneous, from the gut laughter. It sounded much more fun, so eventually I’d head upstairs and sit at the table with the ladies.
And I’m forever grateful for making that decision. At some point, I just stopped heading downstairs. I knew it was just going to be more fun at the girls table. Perhaps I was lucky and fell into a family of funny women, but my goodness, they made me laugh. I don’t recall many stories they told at that table (most of it was probably at the expense of their husbands drinking Schlitz in the basement), but the memory of just sitting there at that table and laughing will forever be a part of me.
This is not to say the men of family were a bunch of unfunny, boring shitheads. It was just a different vibe. The women really seemed to enjoy being around each other, while the men seemed to kind of just be there.
Some of those women, including my mom (who I’ve informed is never allowed to die), are still here. But the majority are gone now. Thankfully, they’ve all raised some brilliant and strong daughters (and some okay sons) who still make me laugh today. I see them mostly at weddings and funerals now, rather than at a party my mother was completely insane to host, and I find myself gravitating to the table with the funny women.
In fact, the last wedding we were at, my 75-year-old mother decided she wanted to do Fireball shots. Of course. She was soon joined at the bar by me, her daughters, her nieces, her nephews, their children, and some strangers who were drawn to this funny old lady* doing Fireball. So perhaps more people are finally realizing that spending more time with the women is the right call.
* My mom is 75, but is technically not an old lady. Please make a note of it.