Ilyana had IM'd me by 2pm - "Drinks...outside". Of course, I agreed. A fresh pedicure and new pair of strappy sandals weren't going to waste. She had invited a few other people from her office downtown to join us for some outdoor cocktails. "My boss wants to come," she said sounding a bit surprised and a bit taken a back. "She heard me mention it to Sally and asked to come so there will be 4 of us. Do you mind."
I didn't know any of her work friends and I only new Ilyana from the bridal boot camp class which I am still taking despite no longer being a bride. But, the sun was bright and it didn't take much to lure me from my home to enjoy the resplendent spring afternoon. Ilyana was tall and thin, the kind of thin where everything she tries on looks like it was made for her. I wondered why she would endure the 60 minutes of sheer pain of this boot camp class even with her wedding only 6 weeks away. "Are you trying to get down to a double zero," I asked her one time.
Ilyana arrived first to secure the table. "I left work early," she said as she motioned to me to come sit on her side of the round table. By 5pm, the Boathouse was filling up and people were circling like birds of pray to try and scare up a table. Proud of her table snagging accomplishment, Ilyana settled in with a white wine that she sipped from delicately. She was young, I always forget how young until I hear her say something like: "When I was 5, I had a cell phone" or I make references to an 80s movie and she looks at me like I am talking about some foreign film. "Sixteen Candles? No? Jake Ryan? That name means nothing to you." Ilyana graduated from high school after 9-11. It is a different generation.
Despite our age difference, we share enough in common that we became fast friends. "Let me apologize up front for Patty. I cannot believe she wants to come out with us." Ilyana kept checking over her shoulder to make sure Patty wasn't around. "She is nice, um, sometimes. I mean she is good boss and she is teaching me a lot, but she is really mean. She can be really mean." I poo-poo'd her worries - until Patty arrived.
Patty came stumbling over to our table as the sun dipped behind the buildings on Central Park West. She had had a few - that was obvious. She was short and wide with frizzy hair and lipstick smeared way passed the outer rim of her lips. Her age was hard to place, I figured her for 50-something though it was possible years of hard living added on another 10 years. Her shirt was untucked, one pant hem dragged on the ground as she lumbered towards a seat. "Hurry up and order me another," she commanded Ilyana. "I am running to the bathroom. It was hell to get over."
Ilyana and I exchanged glances over her giant purse which she left as a centerpiece on the table. When Patty returned from the washroom she had a fresh coat of hot pink lipgloss which covered nearly the whole lower portion of her face. I bit my tongue.
Patty took a long swig from her bourbon, exhaled and said, "So what are we talking about?" Ilyana explained that we were talking about wedding flowers which sent Patty into a tizzy. Looking at my hand, Patty noticed my ring and snorted. "Ugh, another girl who was stupid enough to say yes."
I almost spit my wine all over the table. Was she kidding? It seems, she wasn't joking at all as she launched into a tirade on how marriage is the downfall of love and all of us "Dumb Young Girls" are idiots for getting married. "I told Ilyana the other day at work that she should pawn that ring and kick that ass to the curb with her recyclables. It wouldn't be a bad idea for you too, honey." She glared at me as if I had stolen her raspberry red lipgloss and painted her white walls with it.
"I have been married....4 times," Patty continued. "Oh and each time I thought I was in love. And the guys were all great. And we did the big wedding. And we had cute pet names. And love was grand!" She rolled her eyes and the ice around her glass and continued. "It is all such bullshit. Men. Love. You know how you really stay in love? Huh huh?"
No one answered. I was tempted to say "Anyone, Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?" but I realized my audience wouldn't get the joke. "I'll tell you how love lasts." Patty's voice got louder and her Brooklyn accent came out. "You make it last by never walking down that aisle." She turned her sights on Ilyana who looked terrified. "I love being single, having no man I need to run home for and heat up food for, being able to sleep as late as I want, walking around in just a tiny old t-shirt Trust me honey, both of you girls, trust me, in a few years when you are my age, you are going to hate your husbands and wish you never got married. I've got the wisdom of age on my side."
In a few years, Ilyana will be my age and please help me G-d, if I only have few years left before I am her age, stab me now and throw me into the pond in Central Park. I tuned Patty out and was hoping Ilyana could too. I hoped Ilyana could see age isn't always wisdom, that sometimes age and bad experiences are the enemy.
On our walk home, after Patty crawled off into the night, I turned to Ilyana and said, "I am so happy to have a husband to go home to. Trust me, I am older and wiser. You are going to love marriage." I gave her walking hug cause I know she needed it.
And when I got home I gave M a giant hug and a big kiss.