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Shari Low's Best Ever Friday Night with the Girls
My favourite night out with the girls?
December 2009. It was that time again – mistletoe, Noddy Holder and we’d plundered the bank account we’d been paying a tenner a week into since June. Yep, it was our merry band of chums’ Christmas night out. Or as we call it, an annual celebration of the superior holding powers of magic pants. Incidentally, congratulations to M&S for designing shapewear that is borderline genius. The waist-cinching corsetry sported by one of the girls came with a zipped section on the abdominal area that was perfect for storing the joint funds, leaving the hands free for swinging in the air in times of ill-advised, over-energetic dancing.
Naturally, my outfit was chosen with due care attention to my current physical state. Less than a fortnight after having my gallbladder removed, it had to be loose around midriff and long enough to cover my post-op, pond-green, anti-embolism stockings. Every day is just one big, long glamourfest with me.
I tried on a long, floaty maxi-dress that fell in waves of fabric from my chest to the floor and paraded for the husband. “What do you think?”
“Lovely,” he said. I knew he was lying. He’d gone pale and his eyes were flicking around the room, checking the emergency exits.
“Be honest!” I ordered. “Tell me the truth.”
“Okay,” he sighed and I could see that he was gearing up to give a candid appraisal. Mistake. Big mistake.
“It’ll be fine for dancing,” he said helpfully. My spirits began to soar until he added, “and if you have to leave an airplane at 20,000 feet you won’t need a parachute.”
For the next month all his meals were prepared in three minutes with a ping at the end.
Back in wardrobe hell, I eventually settled for the black trouser suit that I drag out every time I’m in a fat phase. The bonus was that the trousers covered my green Nora Battys.
The girls and I checked into a Glasgow hotel, spent a couple of hours with fizzy stuff and hair tongs and yes, there may have been mortifying mum-dancing dancing to Wham records from the 80s. There’s a reason we only have a big night out once a year. We headed to a swanky club for a fabulous meal, then wandered next door to the nightclub, trying not to show that we were unaccustomed to walking in anything higher than our school-run Uggs.
The night out was going great until – brace yourselves for an astonishing revelation – I got chatted up. I’m revealing this not as a boast, but as a testimony to dim lighting and the effects of alcohol on the male species.
My pals were on the dance floor doing a cardiovascular work-out with Bob Geldof, Spandau Ballet and other assorted stars from a bygone era – yes, in that moment, they were the four extra members of Bananarama – and I was sitting it out, tapping away on my mobile phone, when Mr Stranger slid into the seat next to me.
“Who are you texting?” he asked smoothly. Naturally, being a happily married woman, I went for the obvious hint as to my status of non-interest.
“My husband.” I replied, figuring that at least the draught caused by him fleeing would help with the hot flush I was having under the disco lights.
Er, no. Hint ignored. I mentioned that I was married again. Still no reaction. Bananarama gave up on the jigging and rejoined us at the table. Nope, that didn’t scare him off either. This guy had nerves of steel. Twenty minutes later, I thought I’d cracked it when he asked my age. “42,” I said. He paled. “You’re only five years younger than my mum!” But still he didn’t move.
There was only one thing for it. I was going to have to go in for the kill, be brutally honest and hope I didn’t scar him for life.
I bent down, pulled up my trousers leg and had a big, strenuous tug at my surgical stockings. He said something about going to the loo and was never seen again. If I close my eyes, I can still hear the shrieks of hilarity from my chums, and it still gets brought up regularly as one of the comedy highlights of the last decade – especially during our normal Friday nights, when we’re all in my kitchen putting the world to rights. My husband insists that when he married me he didn’t realise that I came with a crowd of girlfriends sitting around my kitchen table at all times.
So here’s my guide to a great Christmas night out. Don’t ask your partner how you look. Keep the spending money in a safe place. Always stick with your friends. Remember that life may have its up and downs, but there’s nothing that can’t be solved by pretending you’re in Bananarama. And if you’re definitely not interested in pulling a bloke, pack a pair of green Nora Battys in your handbag.
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