Girls Weekends

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Girls weekends are a chance to get away from husbands, shop, eat out, and go to museums or the theater. All the things your guy may not necessarily like to do. They’re also a time to catch up with friends you don’t see that often. We all lead busy lives with kids, jobs, houses to run. America is a very mobile society. Some of us have moved far away from our friends and family. Everyone’s on the move.

My sister, Maureen and our cousins Kathy and Ann, started a girls weekend almost fifteen years ago. It’s a combination cousins/sisters weekend. We’ve been to Nashville, New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Newport, Boston, Annapolis and Providence. Basically we go anywhere Southwest Airlines is offering cheap flights. We can always find something to do. It’s the company that matters most.

Kathy passed away five years ago from breast cancer. We miss her terribly. Her sense of humor, her crazy infectious laugh, and her compassion. We could have ended the girls weekends, too sad to continue on without her, but instead we knew she wouldn’t like that. We continue them in her honor. We are not really without her, she is with us in spirit and throughout the weekend we rehash girls weekends gone by. We laugh over the crazy things we did and the fun we shared.

It was a rough year for everyone financially. We all had kids in college, job changes or unexpected bills. Ann lives in the D.C. area, so we stayed at her house to save money. But there were rules-her husband was out of town, her kids were off at college, there would be no cooking. We could take the subway or a cab, no one had to be the designated driver.

After Ann picked us up at BWI, we headed straight to lunch and a quick margarita with nachos, then off to the fascinating Newseum. Our favorite exhibit was the Pulitzer prize winning photographs where we were haunted by the photograph Tragedy by the Sea. It depicts a couple whose child had been swept out to sea.

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Tragedy by the Sea by John L. Gaunt

 

That night we had drinks at the W hotel with a bird’s eye view of the White House, then dinner at another restaurant. There was a lot of catching up and reminiscing, nothing too wild and crazy. We had big plans for the following day which started early. Our first destination was the National Mall and the Martin Luther King Memorial, then on to the National Gallery of Art and the Museum of the American Indian for lunch in their cafeteria. A very interesting, educational and civilized day. The evening would prove to be a little different. We were about to enter a new stage of our travels together. The menopausal girls weekend.

It started at the Dirty Martini in the Dupont Circle neighborhood for happy hour. The owner was working the room that night. He was an Indian man or maybe Arab, with an infectious smile and a flirtatious personality. He began flirting with me as soon as we stepped through the large glass doors into a room of gleaming light wood floors and warm yellow walls. He brought us to a long communal table where he stayed by my side and told me I had a beautiful smile and that he was also a lawyer. I’m not sure if that was meant to impress me but it worked.

I have to tell you, men rarely flirt with me these days. I’m the invisible woman, the fifty something mother with the sharp sense of humor and loud laugh. I’m no longer thin, not fat, but you know how it is. So naturally, I was flattered. I ordered the Perfect Pear martini. “Excellent choice.” He smiled and winked. Throughout the happy hour he returned to our table often, flirting and being very solicitous. He even brought us a complimentary appetizer.

But it was time to keep the pub crawl moving along. I never carry cash. I always use my debit card, so I pulled that out and paid the entire bill. Maureen and Ann gave me cash. I figured I would need this later in the evening for other rounds of drinks and cabs. My flirtation with the Indian maitre d’/lawyer was destined to go nowhere.

We went to a couple of other places including an Irish bar, our laughter and chatter getting louder and sillier as the evening went on. Sometime after midnight we grabbed a cab ride home.

As soon as we stepped in the door the house phone rang. Ann looked worried. “Who would be calling this late?” she asked. She picked up on the second ring. “Patrick?” she said, with a worried tone. Patrick is her youngest son. He attends college in D.C. “You’re kidding me. Where are you tonight? Are you anywhere near there? Well, okay, thanks. I’ll get it tomorrow.”

“What’s up?” Maureen asked, as Ann dumped her purse upside down on the kitchen table, rummaging through the contents.

“I guess I left my cell phone at the place we went after the Dirty Martini. The waitress found it and they called Patrick to find out who the phone belonged to. I didn’t realize it was missing. Oh well, we’ll get it tomorrow.”

We launched into a discussion of how we all did things like this lately; misplacing things, going upstairs and forgetting why we went up there, forgetting to pay bills. Mental pauses we called them, secretly hoping it wasn’t an early sign of Alzheimer’s. My dad refers to it as “The Alzheimer’s”. We joked about how it sounded like an annoying old couple who always drop in uninvited or show up when you’re not in the mood to deal with them. “Oh no, who invited the Alzheimers to the party?”

The weekend flew by, as usual. The next day Maureen and I had afternoon flights back home.  We stopped at a coffee shop on our way to the airport and I opened my wallet to get out my debit card. It wasn’t there.

“Oh my God. I lost my debit card,” I shouted, as I emptied my purse on the car floor. “Where did I use it last?”

“In the cafeteria at the Native American museum?” my sister asked helpfully.

“No, I think I used cash,” I said, my voice rising, starting to panic.

Ann shouted, banging the steering wheel. “The Dirty Martini. You wanted cash for the evening, so you paid with the card and Moe and I gave you cash.”

“Oh my God. That’s right. It was that damn maitre d’ slash lawyer slash flirt who had me all flustered and distracted. I bet I left it in that leather bill presenter or whatever the hell you call those things. I’ve been known to do that. Sign the check, talking and drinking while I’m doing it, and just leave the card in there. This isn’t the first time I’ve done it.”

“Oh no,” Maureen laughed from the back seat. “The Alzheimers again.”

We spent our remaining hours driving around D.C. retrieving our lost belongings. First Ann’s cell phone,then my debit card, laughing and talking. A minor problem.

We were happy to be together having a good time. We knew we’d lost more important things, like our dear friend Kathy. We started to plan the next girls weekend, possibly tacking on an extra day to retrieve the things we lost in some other city. We will continue to meet in cities across the country where Southwest flies. We will laugh and drink and sightsee and reminisce. Kathy will always be with us, in our hearts, and in the memories of good times shared with good friends.

If you’re visiting D.C., check out the following

Oyamel Cocina Mexicana for delicious margaritas and food

The Newseum 

The Dirty Martini for the delicious martinis and the flirty maitre ‘d

The W Hotel and its great rooftop bar

The National Museum of the American Indian

Please comment here on my blog. I’d love to hear your stories of girls weekends.

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