Girls Night Out

As I write this on Wednesday afternoon, I’m preparing to venture out on a Girl’s Night Out tomorrow evening.

The first one of those I ever attended was while we were still working on the reservation. A bunch of women from school went into Tucson Friday night where we planned to have dinner followed by a round of bowling. It didn’t work out very well. At the very end of the meal, one of the ladies—using the term loosely—demanded separate checks. That put a real “gar in my greet” as Evie would have said, and things didn’t improve after that. Eventually two of my pals, Patsy and Loretta, and I bailed on bowling altogether and ventured across the street to a bar where we indulged in several adult beverages and had lots of fun.

This happened to be on Columbus Day. A young airman from Davis Monthan was particularly taken with Loretta who was a Quinault by birth, a Tohono O’odham by marriage, and most definitely a dish. When he made a pass at her, she looked him straight in the eye and said, “You know, if we’d a sunk that Mayflower when it first showed up, we’d a never have had any of this trouble.” It was a joke, of course, especially when the young man walked away shaking his head in dismay. Times have changed a lot since them. It’s likely that I’ll be pilloried as being a racist for a: passing it along or b: considering it a joke or: c: both of the above. So be it.

Once the evening ended and the bowlers came to drag us out of the bar, the evening did not improve. The bowlers’ noses we all out of joint, and the three of us were still having too much fun. The ride out of town was edgy at best. When we arrived at my turnoff, thirty miles later, the lady who was driving the car offered to take me all the way up to the house—two miles of dirt road. “No thanks,” I said. “Just drop me off here. I can walk.”

When I bailed out of the car, so did Patsy and Loretta. As I recall, we walked the two miles in plenty of moonlight, singing bawdy songs as we went. Jerry Janc was not at all thrilled when he was rousted out of bed by three over-the-limit females to do the sixty-mile round trip drive necessary to drop two of them off at their respective houses.

So that’s one kind of Girls Night Out. But tomorrow’s event will be again, as Evie would say, “a white horse of a different color.” This will be the Savor the Season dinner at my daughter’s church.

It’s a fairly large church. For this event, chairs in the sanctuary are replaced by sixty or so banquet tables, each of them decorated to the nines with holiday cheer provided by that table’s hostess. It truly is a winter wonderland. The attendees are all women, young and old, and none of them will be doing the cooking. A specially designed buffet is set up. Packets containing family-sized recipes for each dish are given to every guest. Church menfolk do all the serving—and that’s the whole point.

Back the sixties when bra-burning was in its heyday, planning and delivering the holiday cheer nevertheless continued to be considered women’s work, and not much has changed on that score in the meantime. In most families, the womenfolk are still the ones who plan and organize holiday meals and gatherings. It used to be that Thanksgiving was the only meal I cooked each year from beginning to end. Things are a bit different now, and a set of spareribs are slow cooking in the oven a 250 degrees while I work on the blog. But I’ll be cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, too.

Savor the Season is designed to give the “fairer sex” time to take a deep breath before the starting gun announces the official beginning of the sprint race that will take us all through the complexities of the holiday season and on to the end of the year.

As I said, this is a church event. No adult beverages will be served, and any singing we do will be of the Christmas Carol variety. And yes, there will be a message—delivered by Pastor Cheryl. Her sermons are always memorable. One year, each guest received a replica of a key from an old black-and-gold Underwood Typewriter. It was meant to be a reminder that, when things get tough, it’s always a good idea to find your backspace. That’s one that has been especially meaningful to both my daughter and me, and when we exchange texts that contain nothing but a backspace, it helps each of us take a step back.

I have no idea what the message will be tomorrow night. In these days when rancorous politics seem to have impacted every aspect of our lives, lots of people may be in need of exercising their backspace during holiday family gatherings.

So I’m including one here. That way, if you need one during events in the course of the next month or so, you’ll know just where to find it.

32 thoughts on “Girls Night Out

  1. What a great idea! Thank you. as I am sure I will indeed next to use that key this year. Happy Holidays for you and yours.

  2. I love the”backspace” concept. I know we all can use it in our lives. I was mentally trying to think of a way to find an icon or something while I still reading your post when you actually gave us one! Thank you! I hope you will tell Pastor Cheryl that you shared her message with us. I’m sure it will have a far reaching effect.

  3. When I was working back in the late 50s in Des Moines, the women in my office had a night out. There must have been only six of us as I remember only one car. First we went to a park and roasted weenies. Then we went bowling which was funny as none us was good at it. I don’t remember any liquor, but we had a good time.

    I love the backspace key. The Royal typewriter I learned on had one.

  4. Thank you for sending the back space. I will certainly use it and be the better for it. Great story. Sending you holiday blessings in advance. Your faithful reader, Judy Ann Goldman. (Met you at Vromans).

  5. I always enjoy anything you have written. You are one of my favorites. I used to live in Tucson and am familiar with a lot of your locations. Happy Holidays and outings to you.

    • I’m not sure when there’ll be another Joanna Brady, but I’m pretty sure there will be one.

  6. Loved this post. My kids’ church did a similar event and it was always lovely. I will keep that back space handy ! Thanks for another thoughtful message.

  7. I love your books I love your blogs. Keep writing so I can keep reading.
    When and why did the Papegos become the Tohono O’odhams?

    • Papago, something related to “bean eaters” was a name gifted to them by the Spanish. They have always called themselves the Tohono O’odham–the Desert People, and in the seventies, after I stopped working there, they made that name official.

  8. Thanks! I needed that backspace before I even finished reading the blog this morning! Now that things have settled down and I think we know how the day will go, I think I’ll re-read the blog without interruptions.

  9. Enjoyed this week’s blog’s tale – girl’s outings are the greatest, church or otherwise. I still get together once a month with high school friends (class of 1957) and we ask for (do not demand) separate checks – makes it so much easier figuring out who owes what. Gathering with friends are special and help us all.

  10. I enjoyed your friend Loretta’s comeback line! Never mind that by the time the Mayflower showed up the native population of this continent had already been decimated by contagious disease and Spanish soldiers. I wonder how things would have been different if they’d sunk the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria? Fodder for a writer of alternative time line speculative fiction?

    I feel like I get “girls’ night out” every week at our women’s chorus practice. One of the highlights of my weekly calendar; I always feel better after time spent with my sister singers.

    I can totally imagine a younger you and your friends hiking up that long driveway — you paint great word pictures! The three of you salvaged your evening in fine style.

    Fortunately, my family seems to be full of male humans with cooking skills, so we all contribute to holiday feasts and no one gets overwhelmed. In that way, my family is a blessing. My biggest holiday problem this year is trying to get in a quick trip to Seattle to see my youngest sibling and her family, while still showing up for all the concerts and church events I’ve committed to.

  11. Nollaig na mBan (pronunciation Null-ug na Mon), which can be translated from Irish (Gaelic) as “Women’s Christmas,” is one of Ireland’s biggest traditions and is observed on January 6. On this day, women traditionally get a much-needed rest after catering to everyone during the holiday festivities.
    Traditionally in Ireland (and apparently in Puerto Rico also), Nollaig na mBan is the day on which all the Christmas decorations must come down—not before or after—or else risk bad luck for the rest of the year. When holly was the only decoration in Irish homes, it was taken down on this day and burnt.
    In rural and small-town Catholic Ireland, especially, women would gather in each other’s homes or local pubs for a few stolen hours of gaiety while the men looked after the brood.
    “But us women would go visiting that afternoon. It was a very simple celebration, just eating a slice of currant loaf in someone’s house and having a cup of tea and a chat, but that was the day you’d do something for yourself and have a rest after all the Christmas work.”

  12. A class reunion brought me together, over Zoom, with many of the women I grew up with, and it’s continued since April into the fall- It has been wonderful to reconnect, to find out what everyone has been up to, and to revisit some of the experiences we had at an all-girls school, quite a few of them absolutely hilarious-

  13. Thank you for yet another pensive, yet uplifting, post. I love the backspace advice and will carry that thought forward. Enjoy the “Girls Night Out” – shame I cant’ be a fly on the wall!

  14. I look forward to Friday’s blogs. You are a gifted writer. I’ve been reading your books since the first Beaumont. Your blogs and books flow so easily. Thank you for being a part of my reading repertoire.

  15. And Pastor Cheryl? Her sermon? Or message? You’ve told a great story and left the reader hanging.

    • Her message was simple. God’s grace is a gift rather than something to be earned and, as such, can’t be taken away.

  16. Loved Girls Night Out! A nearby community has a “Girls night out” during hunting season . There should be frequent ones!
    I enjoy your books so much. I have read every one and because I can’t find an author I enjoy as much, am starting over, ha ha.
    I used to be a speed reader but now that I am retired, I read more carefully and enjoy tidbits I missed the first time!

  17. Great blog! Thx for my back space, JA! It’s so appreciated. At 74, I thought I was winding down, but have become more energetic in the past months. Overnight house guests and cooking Thanksgiving dinner are on my menu, ever since my mother passed the apron to me in 2003. She had done it for so many years as my brother and I grew up, besides having a full-time job outside the home. How I wish I’d let her know then how much I admire her. I miss her every day. She gave us kids a good grounding for life without her.

  18. I made a screenshot of your backspace and will print it out for myself. Sometimes my sister and I have phone conversations where I could really use that for my brain before I speak!

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