There are certain nights out that are a rite of passage. Your first teenage disco being one, writes Lindsay Woods.
Preparation was key. You patiently compiled your playlist in advance, courtesy of Atlantic Radio 252, on a blank cassette tape; your finger poised to cut off a Boyz II Men number as the last lyric faded and before the DJ ruined it by injecting with, “Coming up next on the ‘Lurrrve Zone’…”
Any sense of fashion you possessed was heavily influenced by the ensembles paraded on-screen by the lead characters in Sabrina The Teenage Witch and Dawson’s Creek. A just so scrunchie, not worn in your hair, but placed with brazen abandon as a form of adornment on one’s wrist. Your arsenal of macquillage consisted of clear lip gloss, violently scented with, ‘a medley of Fruits of The Forest’. Which resulted in your employment of said insouciant scrunchie to pull your hair into submission so as to liberate it from being permanently affixed to your lips courtesy of the aforementioned glue/gloss.
You were the height of sophistication. A thought reinforced by your selection of a floral maxi skirt with plimsolls and a spaghetti-strap vest; all offset to American teen drama perfection by a sunburnt nose and a midge bite on your shoulder. This level of over-thinking and general melodrama was normally for the duration of one entire week prior.
Fast forward a number of years to post-exam nights out and the concerns had shifted from floral maxi skirts to making sure you trotted off to the local before 6pm to enable you to avail of the cheapest beverage on offer. The soundtrack had moved on also. The playlist now contained the back catalogue of Basement Jaxx and The Chemical Brothers along with some under the radar Indie warbler recommended to you by the guy adjacent to you in a sociology lecture.
But of all these nights out, none compare to those when after you become a mother. To clarify, I am not speaking of your first foray post baby; no, I am speaking of those rare and mystical nights out which occur so seldomly so as to make you question their very occurrence in the first place. These my friends, are ‘Mum Nights Out’. Where we don’t just go out. We go ‘out-out’.
For me, such an occasion occurs roughly twice a year. The planning for which has now reverted to the hysteria levels of my teenage years such is my over investment in said night. The soundtrack? ABBA. Interspersed with some current chart-topping ditty to enable me to limber up in anticipation of ‘dropping it like it’s hot’. I can’t really ‘drop it’ at such a temperature. At best I can crouch at a somewhat tepid degree as a result of a dicky knee sustained from my grand retour to spin class.
If the stars align, my husband will have bestowed the ultimate gift; exiting the home with our children in tow. If not, they will be banished to the downstairs for an indeterminate period of time to enable me to fully engage my feminine mystique (translation; wax my upper lip and twirl about to the crooning tones of Rick Astley).
My abhorrence of any group chat situation is assuaged purely for these bi- annual occasions. A lit group chat is essential, nay, critical to the success of the occasion. No individual is capable of evoking the level of banter within a group chat then a collective of mums primed to be released upon an unsuspecting public.
Timing is everything and well within our skillset. We spend days, weeks and years organising our families so you had better believe with such a narrow window of opportunity, we are not going to waste one precious second. It starts with the day’s sustenance. Large breakfast, light lunch with a little punch of energy courtesy of a banana before departure. Pre-drinks are essential along with doling out the remaining carton of party pretzels/Halloween sweets lurking in the back of the cupboard. No reservations for dinner: we don’t have time. Picky bits on various platters nestled amongst our chosen beverages we can get on board with.
We also have one solid rule: no-one gets left behind. If we find you weeping in the loo: we will fix your hair, give you a wet wipe from our handbag and make sure you find your friends. If you can’t locate your group, we will duly adopt you or see you home safely. I challenge you to hail a taxi quicker than a mum.
So, if you are in a bit of a bind on a night out, look for those mums. We’ll see you right. Because that’s what we do; fix things. Albeit, aided by pain relief and copious amounts of fizzy pop twice a year.