holidays, gender roles and smooth rock

This weekend, my friends Joe and Rachel stepped way out of the box by hosting a yacht-rock themed double birthday party on St. Patrick’s Day. And let me say, it was great.

I could never pull off a themed party. I dread baby showers, all that pink and yellow and those games, God help me the next time I have to dig through a diaper full of melted chocolate, I hate them. When someone tells me they are going to a bridal shower, I have to control my instinct to smirk (because I don’t have to go) or make a sour face (because I am imagining all those hideous bows and ribbons tied into a paper plate).

Maybe I can’t help it. After emerging from several years of adolescence living with my dad and younger brother, I never really recovered until college, when I discovered, it’s cool to embrace some traditionally female habits. I went through a very brief period of liking the color pink, about the time I started dating Fermin, but those days are long gone.

Today I enjoy gardening and cooking, but I’ve never wanted to dress up for any sort of costume party or organize activities for a group of people. I’m 28, and as I’ve done all my life, I let my hair air dry on my day to work (or wherever), and spend exactly three minutes putting make-up on in the morning. I do, however, thoroughly enjoy buying shoes, and jeans…

My point is, many of the finer points of being a traditionally good woman, like hostess abilities, following traditions and social rules are totally lost on me. This may all be related to my issues with tradition. Like, getting married at the Courthouse in Milwaukee and never regretting it, especially after hearing many new-bride friends talk about their weddings.

In fact, every time a close friend navigates their wedding planning and execution (which has basically been constantly for about eight years now) I take a moment to reassess my feelings about weddings, about whether I feel I missed out. And surprisingly, to myself anyway, I never feel I have.

But back to yacht rock, perhaps the reason I so look forward to Joe and Rachel’s parties is that they are so different. I mean, they are planning a Canada Day party for God’s sake, how hip is that? And while I have no idea how they came up with the idea of theming a party around smooth rock (think Steely Dan) and nautically themed beers, I know it will never be done again, or at least I will never be invited to one again.

Besides that, there is no pretention at these parties. When you come up with an idea so equally fresh and preposterous, it hardly evokes your cousin’s last baby shower. You can come wearing, say, jeans and a t-shirt, or, plaid (think rainbow colors) cotton shorts, a maroon polo, a horrid blue suit jacket topped off with a captain’s hat and white tennies circa 1988. You can drink beer from cans, neon wine coolers, or a martini. And nobody cares.

This is also the beauty of having a healthy number of journalist-types among one’s friends. They are inteligent and well-read, but usually bitter and jaded enough by their mid-20s to be down-to-earth, fun companions. I became bitter and jaded with many of them, so we get along well.

Here’s to great friends, bucking traditions, and Canada Day 2007!

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