The conversations are different.
Back in college when at a bar, I’m pretty sure the conversation revolved around what hot guys were where, who was looking at whom, and what-do-you-think-of-my-outfit-do-I-look-okay? If you did stray from those self-absorbed topics it was to talk about what you were drinking (Midori sour? Kamikaze? Jager bomb? Flaming Dr. Pepper?) and of course what you wanted to drink next. That’s pretty much it. In between those intellectual conversational pieces you would dance. And dance. And dance. Watch people dancing. Go pee. Dance some more.
Post-college-marriage-children conversation at the pub were a tad more personal. We talked about our mom panties. How hard it is to find sexy undergarments when your butt is the size of the kegerator you once admired for totally different reasons. How shopping at Victoria Secret is no longer enjoyable now that you realize there is nothing in that store that will make you look the least bit sexy without some serious beer goggles and a black light, coupled with an insane amount of personal grooming and holding in the gut your children left as a constant reminder of their presence. And most importantly, how we could really give a rats ass about it all anyway. We’re married. The buffet is over and we’re only serving up one dish. It’s take it or leave it at this point. We’ve accepted this.
We talked about our babysitters. “Who’s watching your kids?” “You have the WHOLE night off? Good for you!” “How much do you pay your sitter anyway?” “That’s an outrage! I remember sitting for $1 an hour!!” There is nothing so exciting as talking about whomever is watching your children. You are just happy it’s not you at the moment. That’s reason enough for another drink.
Basically we talked. Drank some wine. Went pee. Talked some more. Thought about dancing. Went pee again. Drank some wine. Gawked at the young blonde women (I use the term women as loosely as they presented themselves) dirty dirty dancing with each other and their male counterparts. Went pee for a third time in one hour. Talked about how often we go pee. It was significantly more insightful than college pub conversations.
It’s REALLY REALLY LOUD.
I’m sure it’s my memory failing me due to old age, but I don’t recall bars being so loud. They were loud of course, but I don’t remember losing my voice after the second sentence of my first conversation back in my twenties. That’s before the band started playing. I also don’t remember this ringing in my ears. I’m not sure if I’ve damaged my ear drums or if it’s the ringing of silence I’m hearing. I recall nodding a bunch that evening; smiling and nodding and I couldn’t tell you what some people were even talking about. For all I know they could have said to me, “So, I see your belly is hanging over your low-waisted pants a little and it looks as though you are trying to be cool, but you’re really not pulling it off are you?” and I would have nodded, smiled, and yelled, “Absolutely! I couldn’t agree more!” It’s also difficult to be funny when it’s that loud because a punch line really needs more than an audience of one and it sure as hell isn’t funny on the repeat. After someone asks, “WHAT?” for the second time, you might as well move onto the next joke. Funny is over. Take another drink.
But my throat hurts from trying to hold conversations at 130 decibels. “Pain begins” 125 db, which is how I’m estimating the level I must have been trying to talk over. Because my ears and throat are definitely in pain. I don’t remember needing Ibuprofen when I got home from the bar in college, unless it was a preventative measure trying to stave off a potential hangover. We were nothing if not prepared for the potential hangover. In my responsible mom-status I nursed two glasses of wine while interspersing sips of ice water just to keep me level headed and sans headache in the morning. There is no better definition of hell than having a hangover and having to take care of three kids and do chores. Oh and go to church. You can’t miss church for a hangover, because I think its like, a double sin or something. Even if Jesus did turn water to wine at Cana.
We danced to popular music back in college.
I’m on the dance floor. I’m dancing with the ladies. We’re jiving to 80’s and 90’s music sung by a band called Mid Life Crisis (MLC). That’s a band people our age can really love. It was reassuring to see all members of this male group were not only rocking their guitars, but grey hair as well. We were in our element, dancing as if we were back in college. I’m pretty sure I didn’t see any twenty-something’s moving their bodies in quite the same way we were. For one thing there were less arms. Our generation liked to use arms. Young people prefer to hold their drink in one hand and their cell phone in the other. Not us. Ours are way above our head moving back and forth in wave like motion. During the band’s 20 minute break, the DJ started up. More mom favorites were on the way, as we danced to “Party in the USA” and a song by Justin Beiber, mostly because these songs are on our children’s ipod playlists and we know them by heart. Looking around, all the twenty-somethings are standing on the dance floor swilling their beverages as they wait for the “kiddy” songs to pass and so they can gyrate to something significantly more popular and obscene.
We know when to call it quits.
I’ll say that the majority of us at the party knew when to call it a night. The birthday girl and some of her close friends closed the place down, but I’m pretty sure no one was heaving on their shoes when they left. And it was her 40th birthday for heaven’s sake. Everyone should stay up past one o’clock on their 40th birthday because there is a good chance you won’t see the likes of that hour again unless your basement’s flooding, a natural disaster hits, or you are waiting for one of your errant children to come home from a date.
Most of us though knew when to say uncle. We stopped drinking because it’s prudent and we know how we’ll feel in the morning, unlike our days in college when you kept drinking because it was nickel drinks after 10 p.m. THEY ARE ONLY A NICKEL!! What you didn’t realize in college (or maybe we were just too stupid to care) is that you would have paid a million dollars the next day for someone to ectomy your pounding head and heaving guts. And despite what the urban legend is, eating saltines before bed does not soak up all the alcohol and make you sober and sans hangover in the morning.
By 11:30 people were starting to leave, claiming unless they went home to relieve the babysitter they would have to take a second mortgage out on the house to cover her $13 dollar an hour fee. My feet hurt. My head hurt. I had a great time, but I was ready for the silence of my partially clean living room and the thick nap of my drawstring pants. I asked the friend I came with, “Are you okay to drive home?” I was trying to be funny. She nursed two glasses of wine same as me, but that’s the question you ask anyone who’s leaving a bar, so I asked it, even though I knew she was. She replied:
“Well, I am a little tired..”
There it was folks. The nail in the coffin.You know you are officially past your prime pub days when your concern shifts from driving drunk to driving while fatigued. I took my boots off outside the restaurant and walked back to the vehicle in my socks. We slid our tired butts into her blazing red mom van outfitted with three car seat boosters and headed for home. It was nice to pretend for an evening and live a little longer with the illusion that I could still pull it off if I had to.
Good thing I don't have to very often.