Getting Ready to Go Out


There’s a shorter version of this on Huffington Post:

I love getting ready to go out.

If you’re an 18-28 year old female you know what I mean.

If you’re not, I will succinctly define “getting ready to go out” for you as: preparing oneself aesthetically through make up, hair doing, and wardrobe selection for a social evening outside of one’s home.  The process is accompanied by energizing pop music and alcohol.

I do this alone when I live alone.  I did this in a dorm room when I lived in a dorm room.  I’ve done it while on archaeology digs in the middle of nowhere Serbia and I’ve done it in a Days Inn in the middle of nowhere Ohio.

But I did it most joyously when I lived in my first “adult” apartment from ages 23-26.  I was living with my best friend/roommate Lauren and some irrelevant, ever-changing third roommate.  I can’t remember the names of those third roommates (Tara?  Michelle?), just their distinguishing traits.  One showered every morning at 6:47 am and stomped when she walked.  One only liked alcohol in pina coladas.  She would blend up a Nalgene full before going to a party.  One spent a lot of time in her bedroom with two obese cats.  One spent a lot of time in her bedroom smoking pot.  They were all innocuous and inconsequential to the beat of my daily life.

Lauren and I excelled at getting ready to go out.  In fact we were much better at getting ready to go out, than actually going out.  The quality of the former was always within our control, while the latter was influenced by too many outside variables like the club’s music, crowd, and alcohol availability.

Unfortunately we could not devise a method to authentically get ready to out without also going out.  This is because the magic of getting ready to go out is based on potentiality and escalating momentum.  As you get ready to go out, you’re getting prettier, livelier, and drunker, and expect this exuberant buzz to carry you through the night.

On a typical going out night, our ritual begins after 6 pm, when Lauren gets home from work.  She stumbles into the apartment, in a huff, overheated from carrying her knock-off Longchamp workbag (a present from a exboyfriend’s trip to China) and groceries picked up between the T and home.  The groceries consist of tonic, limes, beer with a cute label, and tortilla chips for our inevitable late-night salsa snack.

Me—“Welcome home.  Did you remember the chips?”

I am placidly g-chatting etc., at my desk—already home for hours because I’m a grad student and don’t subscribe to rat-race, creativity-draining, 9 to 5 type work schedules.  Plus I like to run or get manicures on Friday afternoons.

Lauren sits on the love seat.  I’m on the sofa.  We eat white-girl burritos and watch an episode of New Girl.  It’s so dumb but endearing!  No teacher could afford those outfits!  Maybe the protagonists will kiss this week!  My brown rice, vegan teriyaki burrito tastes predictably cardboardesque, but is the right quantity and density to put in my stomach before drinking.


Caption: Doesn’t look like she’ll be leaving the love seat tonight, but Lauren will rally.

Getting ready to go out officially begins after showers, and then it’s time to get serious about fun.

One of our best friends lives 3 blocks away, close enough to get ready to go out with us.  Another of our best friends lives 3 hours away, close enough to routinely visit on the weekends.

The 3-hours-away friend, Sarah, calls from street level and I dash down to help her deal with parking.  I hop into her Subaru and we drive around the same blocks for 20 minutes before finding a spot.  We place the visitor’s pass on the windshield and are done with responsibilities for the weekend.  Phew!

Sarah’s only staying one night, but she has a roller suitcase.  It’s necessary to bring a multitude of clothes because it’s impossible to predict what she’ll be in the mood to wear tonight and the point is trying on lots of options and accumulating a massive pile of discards before settling on something that says, “I don’t care.”

Lauren is in charge of the music: catchy, girly pop music by Rhianna, Lady Gaga, and the likes.  There’s some song of the moment, which we will play a dozen times before going out, and once we are out will hear a dozen more times.  We will rejoice every time it’s played this month, cringe next month, and listen indifferently when it comes on random shuffle in a year.  When I moved into that apartment in fall of 2009, the song was Ke$ha’s “Tick Tock.”  When I moved out in spring of 2012, it was whatshername’s “Call Me Maybe.”  From that data, I’m sure you can interpolate the songs in between.

We start the music with, “I threw a wish in the well…” and fix our first drinks.  These are the best drinks of the night because they symbolize the end of the workweek and the start of a weekend of infinite potential.  I have a Baileys-spiked coffee.  Lauren has a vodka tonic with a straw.  Sarah has a Whales Tail beer out of the bottle.  Our drink choices reflect the fact that we are independent individuals, with unique preferences, and not a conformist clique of melded personalities.

Maddie, our friend from 3 blocks away, arrives.  She has a bottle of white wine in hand.  We all switch to drinking wine because we like doing the same thing because that’s what best friends do.

Maddie is already dressed, but she has some unnecessary primping to do, like curling her hair, just to straighten it again.


Caption: My friends get ready to go out in outfits that say “I don’t care.”

We’re prancing around the apartment.  We’re playing Call Me Maybe.  I am deliberating between heels or flats.  Sarah is administering mascara.  Maddie is updating us about her café lunch with a coworker slash love interest.

Maddie—“So we order at the counter and they think we’re together, so they ring us up together before we can stop them.  So I say I’ll cover it because I want to pay with LevelUp anyway, and he says, ‘okay I owe you a beer sometime.”


Maddie—“So there are two promising points in this story.  One—the barista thought we were a couple, so we must have exuded couple body language.  Two—he owes me a beer sometime, which is an open invitation for drinks together.”

Me—“Text him and tell him to buy you that drink tonight.”

Her—“No way.  We need to do like after work drinks before night out drinks.”

Sarah—“I agree.  Texting him to come out tonight is like saying you want to sleep with him.”

Lauren—“But you do want to sleep with him.”

Maddie—“I do want to sleep with him, but I don’t want him to know that I want to sleep with him.”

The computer blasts, “And all the other boys…Try to chase me…”

A twerpy male emerges from the third roommate’s room to pee.  He meekly waves and retreats back into her room.

Maddie—“Who is that?”

Me—“Tara’s boyfriend.”

Sarah—“They’ve been here the whole time?”

Lauren—“Yes.  They spend like impossible amounts of hours in there, like 12 hours straight, just lying around, with the cats.

We all agree that it’s repulsive to fester around so long in a closed up room with the cats.


Caption: Sometimes our third roommmate’s obese cats must be removed from the premises.

I’m on the floor, sitting cross-legged with my phone in hand.  “Maybe I should text the Dartmouth boys.”

I am referring to some acquaintances from college who live near us now.  They are tall and fun to get drunk with.  Certainly make-out-able, but not very dateable, and in fact their presence may preclude us from finding mature, dateable men (you know all those mature, dateable men who hang out at Top 40s dance clubs).

My suggestion receives eye rolls.

Lauren—“Do not text the Dartmouth boys.”

Lauren is sensible.  She’s the one who will later dissuade me from getting the promotional shots that are neon green and in test tubes.  She’s the one that will hold onto the coat check tickets and know when it’s time to leave.  She’s the one who will get us to stop for alcohol-absorbing pizza on the way home.

But Lauren has weaknesses too.  She says, “Maybe I should text Finance Guy.”

Finance Guy is a guy who works in finance, who Lauren went on an OkCupid date with last week, and then never heard from.

Me—“Do not text Finance Guy.”

Sarah—“I don’t get it.  How did the date end?”

Lauren—“Fine I think.  He walked me to the T, gave a friendly hug, and said ‘hope to see you soon.”

Me—“Ehhhh.  ‘Hope to see you soon’ means ‘I don’t want to see you.’”

Sarah—“Shut up.  It could mean ‘hope to see you soon.’”

Me—“Ehhhh.  Not with a hug.”

Maddie—“Well what did you say?”

Lauren—“I said, ‘yeah hopefully.”

Maddie—“But was it like ‘yeah hopefully’ in an encouraging way or was it like ‘yeah hopefully,’ in your cynical, I’ll-never-trust-men-again voice?”

Lauren—“I don’t have that voice!”

Maddie—“You totally have that voice.”

Sarah—“You sometimes have that voice.”

Me—“It’s a good voice to have.”

Sarah changes out of a slinky Urban Outfitters dress and puts on an Eddie Bauer flannel, with shorts, tights, and heeled ankle boots.  I put on some Mardi Gras beads because the holiday wasn’t that long ago.

We’ve listened to Call Me Maybe about 5 times and had some quantity of wine.

I take off the Mardi Gras beads because that was a dumb idea to wear them.

My French friend, Gilbert, stops by with his Harvard Business School friend, on their way to a Harvard Business School mixer.  We’re explicitly not invited to the mixer, but they wanted to say “hi” on the way (and use our bathroom).


Caption: Dandy Frenchmen stop by to judge us.

Gilbert looks at my outfit with disdain.  He says, “You know you can’t walk in heels.”

Me—“Shut up.  I can too.”

Gilbert—“Pfft.”  I can’t tell if he’s scoffing at my defense or from tasting our wine.

Me—“How should I tie this scarf?”

Gilbert—“You shouldn’t wear that scarf.  Ever.”

We exchange kisses on the cheek and the men depart.

Me—“It’s so much better without boys.”  Everyone agrees.

I secretly text one of the Dartmouth boys: Going to Phoenix Landing with my friends.  See you there?!

Lauren suddenly gets bossy, but we need her to, or else we’ll never leave the apartment.

Lauren—“We’re leaving in 5 minutes.  Finish your drinks.  Pee.  Get your purses.”  She puts Call Me Maybe on one last time.


Caption: We’re leaving in 5 minutes.  Get your purse.  Text your crush.  Don’t trip on the beer cans.  OMG it’s so stressful.

Maddie secretly texts her coworker love interest: Out in Cambridge with some friends.  What about that drink you owe me?

I take off my heels.  I put back on my heels.

Lauren secretly texts Finance Guy: What’s up tonight?

Sarah would text someone, but she must preserve her tiny red sliver of cell battery for emergencies.  She left her Samsung charger 3 hours away at home, and we all have iPhones.

9:45 pm.  The music is shut off.  We exit the apartment with the determined gait of tipsy people pretending not to be tipsy.  We’re on a mission to get to the club before the cover charge is enacted at 10 pm.  Yes, it will be empty and awkward for a while, but we will have each other, and what more do we need than best friends!? … and the guys we secretly texted.

The night out may be a flop, but getting ready to go out is always the best.


Caption: My heel after a night out.  I can too walk in heels.

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