I had five bridesmaids. Aside from my SIL (whom I obviously met through my husband), all of them were childhood friends. I met April when her family started attending our church while we were in elementary school. She remains among my closest friends. Well, April is actually one of my farthest friends geographically since she and her husband moved to New Zealand to get their PhDs, but you know what I mean.
April has seen me and loved me through some of my darkest hours to include bad haircuts, bad break-ups, and really, really bad hangovers. She stood by me at my wedding, asked me to do the same for her, and loves my children as much as their grandparents do (almost). She’s the little sister I never had (which was fine because I really enjoy being an only child) and even though we’re separated by oceans, the moment I found her in baggage claim a few weeks ago for our Houston girls’ weekend, I felt like we had both just gotten ungrounded for sneaking out to see boys, and we were finally getting to hang out again.
Instead of a couple weeks of catching up, we had about a year and a half to catch up on. April was in country to attend/present at a conference in Houston, and she was going to be there all by her lonesome. I had thought about flying home to OK to see her but couldn’t find cheap tickets, and when she suggested coming to Houston, I jumped on it. The tickets were cheaper, and I would be the only one there with her, so no fighting for her attention with all the other people “back home.”
I don’t think civilians understand the effort that goes into taking leave in the Air Force. I don’t mean to get all military-snob about it, but the Air Force is not a huge fan of flexibility. I mean, “they” expect Scott to drop his life on a moment’s notice, but getting and keeping leave on the books takes some serious finagling and/or Harry Potteresque magic. In order to have my girls’ weekend, Scott would have to take leave to stay with the boys, and the Air Force would have to allow him to keep that leave.
Despite my reservations about the possibility that everything would work out, I booked the plane ticket and held my breath. As the weekend approached, it looked like Scott was actually going to be able to make it work. (“They” did ask him to leave on a short trip the day after I was scheduled to return, which a) would have taken away a portion of his leave, and b) made me nervous about making flight connections in time for him to leave six hours after I was scheduled to arrive back in Charleston, but he said no to the trip.) I’d like to take this moment to pause and say THANK YOU to Scott because he made the
right sensible hard choice to make my life easier. And that doesn’t happen all that often in this AF wife life.
Anyway, I digress. So, April and I were ready for our girls weekend. I could write pages about stuff that doesn’t mean anything to anyone but the two of us, but I’ll just summarize. Our girls weekend was a very typical drinking wine and eating Chinese food, shopping and talking about ex-boyfriends kind of affair. Oh, and we had pillow fights in our underwear. (This is what guys think we do, right?) Whatever. It was all kinds of girly fun.
What I really want to write about are a few surprising things that happened that are far more interesting that our panty pillow fights.
- When coming through security, I got a speech from the TSA agent about how I should really switch from Colgate to Crest because Crest is better. He then added, “Of course, you’re so pretty, I’d even kiss you with stinky breath.” Yeah, um...just give me my shoes. So freaking weird. (I never get these kinds of comments when I have two small children hanging off my hips.)
- I was shopping at the Houston Galleria and noticed a huge crowd of people in front of the Dylan’s Candy Bar. As I got closer, I realized it was because Dylan Lauren was signing her new book. I nabbed a book (which reads like a 6th grade girl’s diary but has really fabulous/coffee table worthy pictures), had her sign it to Will and Ben, and chatted for a few seconds. It’s always so refreshing to meet super HAWT famous people, who are normal/nice.
- By far, the most surprising thing that happened while we were in Houston was our cab ride from the hotel to the airport to go home. Here is the best version I can come up with of our conversation with “Marco” from El Salvador, the world’s best/worst cabbie ever:
April and I slide into the backseat while Marco (fake name because he refused to tell us his real name) loads our bags into the trunk. I pull out my phone to check the time. Marco climbs in the front seat, flips on the overhead light, and turns to stare at us. “Where you going?”
“The airport,” I say, hoping it would be an uneventful ride so that April and I could enjoy our last hour together before heading to opposite ends of the earth.
Marco is quiet for about fifteen seconds before asking, “So, you girls in showbiz?”
April snorts a laugh and says, “I’m in education.”
I add, “I’m a stay-at-home mom.”
“Education?” Marco says this as if he’s never heard of it.
“Yes, I’m a PhD student,” April explains.
Marco laughs to himself, “What you mean?”
With a hint of frustration in her voice, April answers again, “I’m studying at a university, and she’s a mom.”
“So, you’re not in showbiz?” Marco asks. (I start to wonder if we are dealing with a language barrier issue.)
“NO! What do you mean?” April asks.
“This hotel you stay in. Is a showbiz hotel.”
Holy shit. If this is going where I think it’s going, I want to throw up. April booked our hotel because it was cheap and next door to the hotel in which her conference was being held. There was nothing particularly memorable about the place. It was a chain with clean rooms and all the necessary amenities.
Marco continues, “Yes, I always pick up the showbiz honeys at this hotel. They are my friends.”
April, the more naive of the two of us, grabs my arm, her eyes wide, and mouths, “What the hell?”
I interject, “Are you talking about strippers?”
“Yes, yes. Showgirls! They come and stay here at this hotel and work in the Houston clubs for big dollars,” Marco explains as if this piece of information was completely normal.
Catching up, April blurts out, “You thought we were strippers?”
At this point, Marco flips the overhead light back on and looks us up and down. “Yeah, sure.”
Laughing, April says, “I’m too fat to be a stripper!”
Marco turns the light back on (after which we ask him if we’re on Taxicab Confessions because this is all too weird), takes another look, and says, “No! You look good to be a stripper. Very nice looking.” Nothing like a vote of confidence from a cab driver old enough to be her dad to make a girl feel really special.
Acting appalled, April says, “That’s not very nice!”
Marco quips, “It’s a fucking compliment!”
April, never one to let something go, probes Marco with more questions, while I slyly turn on the notes function on my phone and start typing everything he says.
“So, when you say the showbiz honeys are your friends, what does that mean?”
“We go to lunch. You know, I help them if they need help.”
“And then you sleep with them, right?”
“Well, I...” Marco pauses. “What’s your name?”
“What’s your name?”
“No, I asked you first.”
“I’m April, and this is Leia.”
“That’s a stripper name!” Marco lets out a belly laugh, turns the light back on, looks back at us with a grin, and turns it back off. “So, you guys have boyfriends?”
“We’re both married!” April says enthusiastically.
“Married? Where are your husbands?”
I jump in, “Mine is watching my kids, and hers is visiting family in Oklahoma.”
“Oh, so you don’t worry about them while they’re away because they are with your family?” Marco seems genuinely concerned.
April, puzzled by the question, answers, “I don’t really worry about him. He can take care of himself just fine.”
“That’s not what I mean, April!” Marco answers, shaking his finger at us. “You know, you’re not worried he’s with other honeys while you go away.”
Laughing, April says, “NO! I don’t worry about that at all.”
“Why? You think it isn’t possible he looks at other women?”
“We’re married. We’re committed to each other,” April says, completely sincerely. “And I especially wouldn’t worry about him seeing a stripper.”
“You never know what can happen when the cat is away.”
Dismissing Marco’s comment, April asks, “What about you? Have you ever been married? Have you ever known real love?” Thank you, April, for making an awkward conversation downright stupid.
“Oh, yeah, yeah. I was married once. I know love, romantic love, but I don’t need it anymore.” Marco continues in this vein, explaining that he receives love from his family that means something, but that he’s not interested in romantic love at his age.
“So, you’re telling me that you’re not interested in having a real, meaningful relationship with a woman?” I’m beginning to think April thinks she’s actually going to convert this 49-year-old cab driver (he had mentioned his age in his long story about how men his age have different needs than men our age) to the School of True Love. I’m not holding my breath.
“What you mean?” Marco seems offended. “My friendships are meaningful. We both give and receive and love each other in our way. You know, I scratch their backs...”
“I don’t buy it.” Oh, April.
“You will know when you are older. You will see.” Marco pulls out his phone and scrolls through some pictures. He hands it back to us, and April’s mouth drops open at the sight of a bikini-clad blonde somewhere around our age. If, in fact, this is one of Marco’s lunch buddies, he has clearly outpunted his coverage. I wonder how much of our cab fare is going to end up in this girl’s nose. “This is one of my best customers.”
Without acknowledging the blonde, April hands the phone back and says, “I don’t think it has anything to do with age. I am a happy person, and I think I always will be happy because I have created a life with people that add to my happiness. I just think you would be happier if you found a person to share your life with.”
At this, Marco laughs another belly laugh, throwing his head back with a quick flip of the light on and off, “Oh, April! What is it you are doing, Leia? Why are you the quiet one? I can tell April is the loud one.”
“Actually, I’m just typing your conversation on my phone so I can blog about you later.” I show him my phone. “And I’m usually the loud one.”
“Oh, no! You better not put me on your blog on the internet. No!” He lets out a guffaw, which makes me feel better because for a split second I had a flash of a double-murder in the back of our cab. The headline would read, “Two Possible Strippers Killed by Irate Cabbie After Promising to Broadcast His Love Life On-line.”
As we near the entrance to the airport, Marco turns sentimental. “Girls, you are so funny. You know, truly, love is a profound and rare gift that I hope everyone can have.” This guy is like a walking Dove chocolate wrapper.
We exit the cab and grab our bags. April pays for the ride, and for a minute I think she might give Marco a hug--and then she stops probably realizing that his hands have been all up in some girl named Cinnamon’s hoochie-koo.
Instead, we both thank him for the ride and head inside. I call the cab company to give Marco a good review, but they tell me they can only process complaints, which is fine because we probably need to call our husbands and make sure they aren’t hanging out at Night Trips.