Friday night found me about to embark on my first “girls'” night out for ages
(Inner voice: Why d’you think you don’t go out like this more often, Marsha? Is it, perhaps, because you use words like “embark” when you’re writing about having a few drinks and a bit of a laugh? Hmm?)
One of the female staff from our parent company had organised the night out in response to the golf outing which most of the male staff had taken part in earlier in the day, the company dividing, as it does, along traditional gender lines. Anyway, as the only female in our office, I was very touched to be asked. The women involved ranged in age from mid twenties to early sixties with me sitting fairly and squarely in the middle of the age range. So far, so what? Well, I suppose I thought I’d be well placed to chat to both groups – not too out of touch with the twenty-somethings, but more than able to give a nod in the direction of the older women too.
I had my first inkling that, perhaps, my take on the situation was incorrect when, having decided to order cocktails, one of the youngsters (all of whom are delightful, charming young women) asked me if I would have one. Nothing remarkable about that, except that her tone of voice suggested that such exoticness might be beyond my ken. To use a parental analogy, it was that tone of voice adults use to children eating in a posh restaurant for the first time (“Would you like to see the menu, sir?”) That kind of thing. I don’t think her intention was to patronise me. I think she really thought I might be a bit confused or unsure about the contents of the cocktail menu.
Deciding that my sparkling conversation would soon convince everybody that I had a foot in both camps (and maybe even a little bias towards the younger end of the spectrum), I ploughed on, undeterred. The youngsters began teasing each other about the male staff and who fancied whom. After a while, when no-one had teased me or enquired who I might fancy, I protested, laughing, that I felt left out, only to be told that they were sure SOMEBODY could be found for me!
It gradually dawned on me that, while I was viewing the age range as a contiuum, the youngsters were dividing us into two groups, young and old, and I was definitely in the “old” group and this despite the fact that one of the other women has a SON who’s only three years younger than I am!
Resigned to my classification, the rest of the evening played out in much the same vein (I was asked, at one point, if the music I was singing along to was something my kids listened to).
This morning I had a phone call from one of the youngsters, checking that I hadn’t been offended by her (perfectly normal enjoying-a-night-out) behaviour. I think she was worried that, as a “mature lady” (her words), I might have been shocked by the sight of someone dancing. I reassured her that, far from being shocked, I was pleased to see her enjoying herself, as she’s having a bit of a hard time at work just now. I didn’t add that I love a dance as much as the next person, but, when you sweat like a horse, dancing’s a risky business. I didn’t mention this because I’m sure that, even if I’d explained that I’ve always been a “hot” person, she would have assumed that I was menopausal.
Really, whoever said “Life begins at 40” should have thought to add “and ends shortly after”!