Celebrations naturally accompany friendships so I guess you might say Kim and I have experienced over 30 years of shared celebrations. We became buddies in the earliest years of our teaching careers and recently joined the ranks of the retired. Still friends – but after all those years – more like sisters than buddies.
June is the month of brides and all things wedding. It seems fitting that a June blog, on celebrations, should be about a wedding related celebration. This story is over 20 years old but it still makes me smile to retell it.
Kim had announced that she was getting married and I wanted to give her a Bachelorette Party. I wanted it to be an evening with lots of time for sharing but I also wanted a bit of tradition. Somehow guys had to be a part of the equation even though the classic evening with a gang of girl-friends and a male-stripper just wasn’t the right fit.
Trying to think of an idea that compliments occasion is always fun for me. It’s a bit like putting puzzle pieces together. I decided the first part of the evening, and the most lengthy, should be with just the two of us. Somehow I would add the “man” touch at the end of the night. The pieces of the puzzle finally came together. I needed something like those life-sized cut-outs of movie stars you see in a video store advertising the newest movie release. But, I didn’t really want movie stars. I wanted guys that had been a part of our lives. I would have to make them myself!
The men needed to be life-sized and dimensional. I ended up creating something like large puffy paper dolls. Discarded sheets of butcher paper, previously used to cover classroom bulletin boards, are easy to come by in a school setting. I knew my choice of colors would be limited to the primary colors typically found in a classroom but they could serve as bodies and clothing. I’d have to make faces out of something closer to skin color. I needed a body template so I asked a friend, who was sworn to secrecy, to take home one large sheet and trace her husband. From that template, I traced twelve bodies to be the fronts and backs of six men. For several nights, I spent my evenings stapling the sides of the paper bodies,adding the torn newspaper as stuffing, then stapling the opposite side to seal the paper doll body. As I stapled and stuffed, I ran through years of memories to determine just who would be in attendance that night. I wanted the men, in attendance, to be somewhat representative of the experiences of our friendship as single women.
Our first principal, Dave, needed to be there. I remembered him with a big smile and a genuine concern for children. He had a dream of owning a pet store specializing in birds. I wished I’d had a parrot for his shoulder but I settled on a t-shirt from the school where we had first taught together.
Steven and Joe represented our twenty-something years. The dating scene needed to receive some recognition. The four of us had gone on a skiing date. I knew I could dig out my old skis and poles. The guys provided memories. The ski gear served as decoration.
Ramon, her fiance, had to be in attendance. I gave him a little crown. He isn’t really the crown type but it added to the ridiculousness of the whole evening.
When I was done, there were six guests in all. A little crepe paper and a few balloons and we were ready to party.
The night of the party Kim came to pick me up. I purposely told her that I would just walk out to the car so we’d have as much time at dinner as possible. Combine friends and food and time always goes by quickly. We never seem to have enough time to just talk, anyway. I was excited about going back to the condo for the surprise but as we got closer I began to suffer tha pangs of self-doubt. Was this ideas a little creative, albeit silly, or just plain stupid? What if Kim didn’t get the meaning of all of it? But I was in too deep at this point and one of the reasons that Kim is such a good friend is the she “gets” me. I felt certain she would recognize that I planned this goofy party out of love and genuine happiness for her impending wedding.
As we approached the front door, I purposely started to talk just a bit louder than normal and faked fumbling at the door lock. I could tell Kim recognized the awkwardness of the moment. But I just opened the door and motioned her inside. As she stepped in, I shouted “surprise” with all the enthusiasm of a hostess with fifty waiting guests. Then I stood there, frozen, in anticipation of her reaction. I’m sure Kim was confused for a moment before it all made sense. I don’t remember exactly how it all happened but the next thing I knew we were both laughing and I was retelling the whole planning of the evening. Kim was working her way around to all of the guests as I snapped photos. We laughed and talked and reminisced about all the crazy things we had done over the years.
When the evening was over we loaded all of the men into her car, waved good-bye and they drove away. The image of her Jeep Cherokee packed with six paper-stuffed men is etched in my mind forever. Why I didn’t take of picture of that, I’ll never know!