It was going to be a night to remember. A night we’d never forget. A girl’s night out on the town. I hadn’t been out for aaaages. We hadn’t seen each other for nine years. There was so much to catch up on, so much to discuss: ghosts of boyfriends past, daftness and heartbreak, the achievements of our children (not in jail, knocked-up or generally rotten like other people’s) and whether or not it was time for Botox. It would be a gender-exclusive rampage, a meeting of wild women under the skies the likes of which Dunedin had never seen and probably didn’t want to.
I started getting ready at 3pm for a 5.30 ETA; showered, shaved my legs, squirted on some beachy waves serum which immediately made my hair go all stiff and sideways, about as beachy as a stick. Then it was time to bring out the big guns, show I meant business: a full face of slap. First off, eyebrows: the trend at the moment is for crayoning on big thick ones that look like dead caterpillars, or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, pencil-thin ‘demented granny is surprised by cheese’ ones like Carmen of K Road or Tim Shadbolt. I’m not trendy though, I’m a Facebook narcissist constantly astonished by the meanness of trolls – I always picture them as elderly men whose eyes look in opposite directions, living in secure residential care and trying to punch the nurses, but they’re usually just stay-at-home mothers of two-year-olds, which, quite frankly, would make anyone want to kick Jesus.
Lips: easy. They remain in pretty much the same place they always were, just more fluted and less of a home to lipstick.
Painted my eyes – never too much sparkle being my motto – and thought about how great it was to have reached an age where you knew how to use makeup to your advantage instead of just randomly plastering it all over and ending up looking like a tequila sunrise with two healing bruises for eyes.
Moisturising, I travelled the traces left by life so far, over stretch marks made by a baby born 25 years ago today and grown into a beautiful person, over the feather lines of scars that had once seemed such gruesome hurts, now bleached to insignificance. And then, it couldn’t be avoided: my feet. “The rest of you is fine,” said my mother, “but your feet are very unattractive.” My feet are horrible, it’s true, but winter is a gift to the ugly-footed. Not a gift: my mother, the voice of doom when it comes to the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. She warns my eyelids will soon collapse and then “terrible things will happen to your body,” especially your lady parts, apparently, which will shortly start to sag and/or fall out. Honestly, I keep hearing this from older women (are they trying to freak me out? Why is it that nobody ever says anything about how painful childbirth is but septuagenarian biddies just can’t WAIT to broadcast the fate of your gibblets?) and always picture it happening in Farmers, for some reason.
My tights were in the dryer but time was a-wasting so I put them on still damp, which felt awful, wet-bum-on-a-cold-night bad, however I was cheered by the fact my lady parts hadn’t fallen out, yet. I forced a pair of earrings through the forgotten holes in my ears. Brushed my hair and swept it up into a ‘do’. Double-checked that I was wearing shoes that weren’t gumboots and an actual dress. I looked flippin’ amazing, if you took your glasses off and stood at the back of the room taking mild hallucigens.
We met at Pequeno, sat by the fire and, over wines, filled each other in on everything that had happened since we’d last clapped eyes on each other. Quickly getting silly as wet hens, we shared divorce stories and laughed about disastrous rebounds involving fat bald Welshman on the ginger spectrum. “You can’t make this shit up!” she screamed, so loudly I worried about the integrity of her pelvic floor. Finally, talked out, wiping the mascara from all the crying/laughing off our cheeks, intermittently wheezing from fits of the giggles, “I’m exhausted,” I said.
“Me too, lets share a cab.”
I let myself into the house, softly bounced off the hallway walls a few times on the way to the fridge where I ate two cold chops standing up. Putting on my pink fluffy dressing gown I slumped down on the bed making an “Oooft” sound.
It was 7.45pm.