Since Kiddo and I moved back into my childhood home with my parents, I’ve had to pretty much start my whole entire life over. Most of my friends had moved away and I knew that part of moving on was getting back on the social life horse. But how do you make new friends at 34 years old? Most people already have their social circles and routines pretty much solidified at this point. Do I get a job and ask what my mostly-married coworkers are doing after work? Do I take Kiddo to the park and make small talk with one of the other parents, trying not to appear desperate as I hope it will extend into a future playdate invite? “Hi, your kid is cute, WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING TOMORROW ABOUT THIS TIME?? PLEASE BE OUR NEW FRIENDS. PLEASE.” Oh god, I don’t know what I’m doing.
I decided to try to use the Internet to make new friends in my area. Kinda like how I used to in my 20s, only without the sex! I went to Meetup, typed in my zip code and voila! a billion different groups popped up. Groups such as the 40 member “We Drum,” which meets the last Wednesday of every month for “a stellar evening of drumming” to “enjoy a drumming experience based on spirit” and “inspiration and connection to the Divine.” I did not join that one. There is also “Northwest Tennis Hiking and Exercise Group,” which I also did not join, nor did I join “Chicago Polyamory Meetup Group” (851 members!) nor “‘Friends First’ FUN Friends Group” boasting 1,743 “Crazy Fun Friends.” I was just planning on mentioning a few examples of some of the groups out there, but I’d now like to focus on this specific group for a moment.
The “‘Friends First’ FUN Friends Group” is a self-described group of “insanely fun friends that meet regularly at different places around the burbs.” Their ages range from “50+ but we do have some mature 40-somethings and some very alive 60-somethings.” The group’s tagline is “Pour Yourself A Glass of Friendship.” Which made me think, shouldn’t you be pouring me a glass of friendship? When a new potential member walks in, it doesn’t seem very friendly to just glance over your shoulder at them and headpoint to the bar, “The Friendship Brew is over there. Help your own damn self.” Maybe this group will redeem itself in its description.
Here is the actual description. It is best read aloud. Go on. Try it. You won’t be sorry.
“We invite all of our friends to invite their friends to come and hang out with us and meet our friends and make new friends. It is through friends that almost all of our friends have found interesting and fun people to enhance our lives. You will meet really good, fun and happy people at our events. You may meet someone to be friends with, do business with, become best friends with or even to date! Our married friends have single friends, our single friends have married friends, our widowed friends have married friends, our single friends have widowed friends, our committed couple friends have married and single friends. BOTTOM LINE… FRIENDS ARE FRIENDS! Friends are Friends!!! Do you get it?”
Jesus Christ, I get it! I get it! Stop yelling, you’re scaring me! This group is just too aggressively friendly for me, unless you have to do a shot every time someone screams the word “friend” at you. But perhaps that is why they are “insanely fun.” Or just insane.
I shouldn’t joke. I actually love the idea of people in their 50s getting together to meet new people for friends and friendship instead of sitting in their houses watching TV. It reminds me of Angela’s sassy mother Mona on Who’s The Boss. Do you think Mona was sitting at home, watching TV? Hell no! Mona was out on the town, enjoying a tall glass of Friendship. She’s all “Get me away from this stupid family. I’m sick of my neurotic, workaholic daughter skitting about at home, eye-fucking the dumb-as-a-rock hired help while these annoying kids are off doing ‘homework.’ Imma up outta here with my crazy eyes and gianormous jugs and meet up with some FRIENDS.”
So, like Mona, I hope to be out and about when I, too, am in my 50s, mingling with new friends for friendship and taking many lovers. Wearing berets and leather gloves, indoors. Regardless of the season. Dressing like Diane Keaton. Talking like Diane Keaton.
Where was I? Oh yeah, my Meetup group. I found a group in my very town that had the fixed tag lines “moms,” “fun hip moms,” “down to earth moms” and “girls having fun.” Oh god help me, I thought, as I clicked “join.”
The group had only been around for a couple of months and boasted 32 members (called “mommies”). I had visions of SUVs, high-waisted jean shorts and recipe swapping sessions.
Its organizer had twin toddler girls and lived five minutes from me. The other mommies profiled seemed ok enough, listing their children’s ages and their own list of hobbies, most of which involved wine. Hmm. Perhaps we’ll have more in common than I thought. The next meet up was a playdate at a local park. I was free to go… but I was afraid. I couldn’t bring myself to strap Kiddo in her stroller and join a group of strange women pushing their respective kiddos in their respective strollers making small talk about, what? breastfeeding techniques? Brands of toy organizing bins? I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
The next meet up was a “Moms’ Night Out” without the kids. A few of the women were meeting at a wine bar and I decided to just bite the bullet and go. It felt like an awkward internet date, but I had been on plenty of those before, so this much I could handle.
On the drive, I realized that I had no idea who I was looking for once I arrived. Crap! What were their names again? I should have looked at their photos better. I parked and opened the door, ready to wander the restaurant yell-whispering, “Moms’ Night Out? Moms’ Night Out? Excuse me… are you one of The Moms?” Luckily, I was spared the experience when I caught the eye of a woman about my age standing at the bar. I felt that familiar feeling of mutual confusion and shyness, not unlike a blind date.
She said my name and I nodded. We both breathed a sigh of relief and exchanged pleasantries. We were quickly joined by another Mommy and wasted no time in ordering wine flights.
These chics were awesome.
We talked and drank, eating crackers in between. We talked about our toddlers, how weird and awesome they were. We talked about the places we’ve lived and the stupid TV shows we loved and the other suggested Meetup groups that keep getting sent to our inboxes.
“Did you guys see the Chicago Polyamory group?” one Mommy said. “I mean, what do they talk about?”
“Maybe they don’t talk.” I said. My new friends and I finished our wine and paid our tabs. We said goodbye and that we’d see each other at the next meetup.
And I am very much looking forward to it.