Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Bachelorette Party

As I wrote several weeks ago, my friend Fifi is getting married. I decided not to go to her expensive island wedding and feel that in doing so I have already given her a valuable present: she was talking about how the cake costs $120 for just the bride and groom, plus $15 for every additional person who has a slice. I can only imagine what everything else must cost!

But of course skipping the wedding didn't mean skipping all the rest of the fun: last night was the bachelorette party. I have to say that I approached this with some degree of trepidation. Fifi is an old family friend that I have known forever, and though we get along well and I adore her, we are very different in a lot of ways. She is a couple of years older than me, and as an adolescent I was always a bit awed by her seemingly effortless ability to wear makeup & dress fashionably. She always has expensive shoes, bags and jewelry (to the detriment of her finances, of course.) And I knew that all her other friends seemed to fit this mold as well, though I'd rarely met any of them. So when she invited me to the bachelorette party, saying we'd be going out to dinner and then to a club afterwards to go dancing, I inwardly groaned a bit, envisioning myself amidst this crowd of exceedingly worked-out, well-groomed, dressed- and accessorized-to-the-nines females. It's not as though I am some obese troll who wears nothing but sweatpants and Birkenstocks, but knowing you are going to be hanging out with a crowd whose appearance values are on a different scale than yours can still bring out a lot of insecurity!

In any case, I had resigned myself to all that, and prepared for the party as best I could. I had an outfit in mind, and I spent about $35 on assorted gifts of edible undergarments, edible handcuffs, and an edible, um, circular male accoutrement. Then Fifi called to make arrangements to pick me up, and mentioned the name of the club we'd be going to afterwards, where one of her other friends had gotten us on the VIP list.

I quickly googled the club, which I'd never heard of. On Citysearch, I discovered that it's considered a "crowded," "trendy," "see and be seen" type of club, and that bottle service starts at over $1,000! (For those who aren't familiar with the concept, bottle service basically entitles you to sit down in a banquette and be attended to by a waitress. You buy an extremely marked-up bottle of liquor, which will come with some ice and mixers. There's usually a maximum number of drinkers per bottle, lest you'd think you could make it worthwhile by having a lot of people share. I'd heard of places charging a couple hundred dollars for a bottle, but never over $1,000.)
The comments that people have left about the club involve a disturbing level of debate as to the racial criteria of the doormen, and whether or not there are "a lot of guidos." It's obvious that some of the comments have been made by the club promoters themselves-- it's actually kind of fascinating to see what they say. For this kind of club, no one will want to go if they think it's not exclusive. But if they think it's truly impossible to get in, they won't bother to try. Women won't want to go to the club if there aren't enough guys. And guys won't want to go if there aren't enough women. (There's no pretense that this is a "mixed," i.e. gay/straight, crowd.) So you have to strike this careful balance of saying "the door is really tight, so a lot of people won't get in, but you probably might get in if you try, and there's lots of hot guys, and lots of hot girls, so many that the gender ratio will be in your favor no matter what you are! And the venue is big, but it's actually quite small, and it's also really expensive, but totally worth it if you're lucky enough to get in, and did we mention that only really cool people could possibly get in? But you should try anyway..."

In case you haven't guessed this already, it didn't sound like my kind of scene. But I decided to gamely soldier on in the name of friendship.

The evening arrives. Of course my friend takes way too long to get dressed, so by the time I get picked up, it's 5 minutes before our dinner reservation time, and we still have to get from Brooklyn to the West Village. We call the restaurant, call one of the other party guests to try to get her to show up and keep us from losing our table, and then miraculously make it there by only about 20 minutes after our reservation. By a half-hour after the reservation, all but 2 of our party are there, and we are seated. The restaurant, of course, is a very "in" place that one of the girls, "Adriana," recommended. They are already antsy about us being so late because they have another group coming in later and they need to turn the table. We tell them the other 2 girls are "on their way" even though we've discovered that they have only just left the suburbs. We have drinks, we have appetizers, we have entrees and are looking at the dessert menu, 2 hours after our original reservation time, when the missing duo arrive. One asks, "Did you guys order yet?"

My fears of being under-dressed, under-jeweled, and under-made-up were somewhat justified, as was my informal hypothesis that high-maintenance women have a harder time finding love. A lot of the conversation involved clothes and dating. One woman was carrying an $1,800 Jimmy Choo bag that her ex-boyfriend had given her. She and her friends had gone back and forth as to whether the bag was gorgeous or tacky, decided it was tacky, and tried to exchange it, but Jimmy Choo won't let you return things after a week so she ended up having to keep the bag, which in my opinion really was tacky. Someone else told a tale of woe about her Jimmy Choo boots, and said she has now shifted her allegiance to Christian Louboutin (easily $600 for a pair of pumps). As for the dating stories, yikes. One girl went on a first date with a guy who asked if her breasts were real, and actually reached across the restaurant table to test them for himself! Another got a call from a man who turned out to be a neighbor who had been told that a cute single girl had just moved in and that he should try to meet her. She asked who had given him her phone number, and he told her that he'd paid a private investigator $175 to figure it out for him!
Someone else told a story about a girl they'd been trying to set up on dates. She's in her late 20s and really wants to be married, but manages to find fault with every guy she meets, sometimes even before she meets him: wrong job, bad dancer, funny ears, etc.
It was a bit sad, really-- there are a lot of wackos out there, and those who aren't actually crazy often just have such high standards it's no surprise they're single!

So by the time we paid the check at the restaurant ($85 per person not including the bride-to-be), it was almost midnight. Originally I'd thought we'd leave the restaurant much earlier and be arriving at an empty club that had just opened, which to me was kind of appealing given the sound of the place. Now I figured we'd be hitting the start of the crowds, but at least I knew we shouldn't have to wait in line. "How'd we get on the VIP list," I asked. It turned out that Adriana had a friend whose son was a promoter for this club. You know, it's great to have connections who can get you on a VIP list, but for NYC clubbing I think it's probably a good rule of thumb that you should at least be of the same generation as the promoter who's getting you in! Our group was mostly late 30s-early 40s, with a core group of high school friends who'd been talking their way into Manhattan hotspots since they were about 14, but even the 20-somethings felt old when we got to this club-- we may have been the only people who didn't need to use fake IDs. Sure enough, Adriana's connection did get us breezed past most of the people who were waiting, but once we were inside, it turned out that we were going to be expected to pay the $20 cover charge, while quite a few scantily clad babelets seemed to be getting in for free. I was sort of surprised that the $20 cover made a difference at that point, but it was decided that we would leave. We went back to our cars and drove to a different place further uptown where there was supposedly a nice rooftop lounge, but the line there was a mile long. At this point, we were all starting to yawn and two of the women had to go home, so the party broke up-- so much for a wild and crazy night out on the town! Despite my desire to report back to you all on drink prices at trendy New York night spots, I was kind of glad to get home and go to bed!


Anonymous said...

I agree with you high maintenance tends to mean single.

Anonymous said...

Dang, that was a boring bachelorette party!

LMAO @ high maintenance chics flossing Jimmy Choos and Christian Louboutins but end the night over a $20 coverage charge.

Say it aint so? Seriously.

Anonymous said...

As a man, I could never deal w/ a high maintenance woman (and I'm sure most women couldn't deal w/ high maintenance men). To me there is so much more to life than superficial clothing, cars, etc.

That said... You live in a very different world than I do! The cost of city living is very different from other places. I think it is very interesting how there are so many differences.

Well written and interesting post. :)

Anonymous said...

When I was about 19 or 20, a friend and I went to a club with a $20 covercharge (which was a lot seven years ago), because there was some super special DJ there. It was well worth it. There were only about 30 other people there, and they were all in their mid-twenties. It was just so refreshing to be somewhere where you weren't packed in like sardines, and the people were more mature. So, sometimes you can get your money's worth from a $20 covercharge.

Madame X said...

@ SingleMa-- it is so and it gets worse. I found out today that Adriana had supposedly told Fifi that she was going to pay for the whole dinner herself instead of having everyone chip in, and Fifi didn't understand why she suddenly got so cheap about the club adn thought she should have just paid the cover for everyone!

@ anon 7:51, I agree that sometimes the cover is worth it. For this particular club, I could tell that it would have NOT have been worth it, but I've been to other places where the music was good and the people were there to dance, not just throw their attitude around.

Mr. Doe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Doe said...

I don't like covers either but some bars on the LES you can listen to 4 bands for under $15 which is well worth it. The "bottled" service is a rip off ever most of the time we just hang out near the bar or the dance floor and do not even have time to sit down.

I have to get pictures of these Jimmy Choo bags so I'll be able to run away when I see a girl carrying one...

MissGoldBug said...

Madame X-

I feel for you... I have been going to (and throwing) bachelorette parties non-stop for the last 3 years--as my girlfriends get married off...

All the expense just irritates me and I end up feeling resentful and broke. Don't even get me started about splitting the bills at the end of the night for dinners and drinks I didn't order... or $20 covers, either...

I will not be participating in or asking for any of these so called traditions when/if I ever get married.

We have got to come up with a graceful way to get out of this... or at least to make it more fun? Any ideas?

I will think on it, but at this point, I've got nothing.

Perhaps this was a good exercise and a gentle reminder of the woman you never, ever want to become?


Anonymous said...

Madame X, Thanks for another great post.
Patrick and Mr T,
I understand what you mean, for the reverse is true for me: As a woman, I would certainly run for the hills, should I see a high maintenance man!
That said, there are certainly others who prize the results of these high maintenance quite highly. These folks obviously find allure in being seen with someone perfectly coiffed, toned and expensively kneaded body clothed in the latest and greatest garments. But oh, the expense, time, and yes, pain, that goes into that effort!

SavingDiva said...

Looking at Madame X's comment about Adrianna cheaping out makes my idea not so valid. original comment was going to be that the $20 cover might be more about ego. Most places have a sliding scale for cover ($0 if you're hot and female to $30 if you're middle-aged and fat). If they're used to going to these clubs, it's probably a hit to your ego when you're charged a lot more than you used to be (when you were younger). Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I would never subject my friends to anything like a bachelorette party, wedding shower, baby shower, etc. I might let it be known to my friends that I wouldn't mind borrowing someone's leftover baby items (the expensive stuff like strollers, etc.) but that is the extent to which I would want to invite my friends to support my household and baby-needs.

Not that I would be opposed to lots of parties and festivity... But i'd be more into the barbeque or potluck scene. I have little tolerance for pretense or rote tradition.

Anonymous said...

I laughed reading this because I can totally picture the women you describe. I think one of my college friend's who I am still in touch with might have been there with you!

frugal zeitgeist said...

Oh man. I refused all showers, bachelorette parties, and the like when I got married. Felt too much like extortion and who wants to do that to their friends?

But then, I don't have any Jimmy Choos either. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I struggled with this a lot when I first moved to [another big city] and I still do when I go out with certain friends. It took me awhile to find friends who are comfortable at a beer garden, watching a ball game or splitting a bottle of wine, but when I did, I was much happier. We still spend (too much) money going out, but it's not so high-pressure. And I stopped stressing about my looks and whether I had trendy enough clothes on, so it was much better for me emotionally.

All that is to say, that I identify and I love your take on the scene.

PickyHistorian said...

Oh, I can see those women ... even here one runs into them at the Whole Foods. I did wince at the implicit sizeism embedded in the "troll in Birkies" comment. I am a 220 lb Woman Of Size who wears Birkies (on super sale) and Birkie knockoffs and sweats ...I am large but I do not consider myself a troll in any way :) Women of size can be attractive, too. Also, there can be non-crazy, non-high maintenance singles -- some of us just got too busy / are too introverted / have low sex drives / whatever :)