Before I became a mother, I assumed that once I had a baby, I would be magically inducted into the Motherhood Club, complete with ID badge, secret handshake, and most important, invitations to play dates. It seemed like all of my acquaintances who had children participated in these mysterious activities. Once I was a mother, I too would have a huge circle of friends!
HellBoy arrived, and I waited with anticipation. Would the invitation come by mail? Or would there be a sudden knock on my door?
Maybe word got out about HellBoy’s hellishness, or about my social ineptitude, or both. Whatever it was, I was never invited into the Club. To be honest, I didn’t mind too much, because I never liked the uniform. But! Not long ago I (or rather we) did receive an invitation to our very first Play Date, from the parents of a little girl who is a classmate of HB’s.
I was excited and nervous. What to wear? Should we bring something? If so, what? Wine? Flowers? Toys? Were we supposed to arrive at the stated time, or fashionably late? (TrophyHusband and I can never get the timing right for attending social events. We never arrive earlier than the appointed time, but we’re commonly the first people there by half an hour or more, and have startled hosts in their sweatpants on more than one occasion. The one time we were inexcusably late, to a party given by my boss, I arrived with profuse apologies on my lips only to discover that for the first and only time we had timed it exactly right.)
Eventually we decided not to bring a gift, because in addition to being too busy/lazy, we reasoned that if this Play Date thing became a tradition, we didn’t want to be obligated to do it every time. We arrived 15 minutes past the scheduled time; hard to tell if this was okay or not, because we were the only guests. Nobody was in sweatpants or looked startled, at least.
We said our hellos (Smile! Look them in the eye! Ask how they are! Admire the house!) and were led inside, where I was pleased to see treats laid out on the dining room table. Oh good, I thought, we get to eat!
But no. We were led past the food and up the stairs. TH and I eyed each other. Where are we going? I mouthed. But he shrugged, at as much of a loss as I.
At the second floor landing, we paused, and I thought Oh, maybe we’re taking the tour of the house? I admired their baby’s room. HB ran the other way, into the master bedroom, which didn’t seem to alarm anyone unduly until he scampered around to the other side of their bed and located their lube and condoms, which he snatched up and brandished with glee.
Once the sex supplies were traded for a toy, we continued up another set of stairs to the top floor of the house, which turned out to be the playroom, and we finally understood that we were all to sit around and play. This disappointed me greatly, because I had hoped that we would all sit around and eat goodies and perhaps drink wine, and let the children play. This setup was beginning to look like work.
Then another slightly uncomfortable situation arose. It turned out that the little girl’s father was German, and spoke to the child in German. The uncomfortable part about this is that I speak German too (most useless language ever taught, by the way), and I wasn’t sure what to do to let him know that I could understand what they were saying. Announcing “I speak German too!” seemed unacceptably geeky. Simply breaking into German myself seemed unacceptably snobby (and besides, my German is way rusty, and there was a risk I’d say something unintended, like “I love your sex lube” instead of “I love your playroom”). Eavesdropping while not saying anything seem unacceptably sneaky. (Not that they were talking state secrets; it was just the usual “Up! Up!” “Do you want Daddy to pick you up?”) In the end I just tried to have a comprehending look on my face. Later TH said, “That was really weird that you didn’t say anything about speaking German!” Sigh.
So we all played and made stiff small talk. At one point HB insisted that we all hold hands in a circle and dance, which maybe some people can pull off without feeling idiotic, but I am not one of them. We were finally released when HB figured out how to turn on their stereo and crank the volume to 11 and insisted that this was the only thing he wanted to do for the rest of his life and how could we be so cruel as to refuse it?
So back down the stairs we went, and were finally allowed to have at the snacks. Which were very fancy. No wine, unfortunately, but good coffee. The small talk did loosen up a tad. It was a little hard to concentrate, though, because their house was very nice, much nicer than ours, and I was terribly nervous that HB would use his sippy cup as a cudgel and mar their (responsibly harvested) tropical hardwood table. Nothing of the kind occurring, we decided to get while the getting was good, and said our goodbyes.
I think that this was a relatively successful event. I’m sure I’m overanalyzing it, it being the first play date I’ve ever been invited to and all. I do wonder if the hosts had to report back to the Club on my behavior, and if so, will I be invited in after all?
I sure hope there's no hazing.