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In Defense of Bachelorette Parties

Weddings are basically your first funeral, and a bachelorette party is your last good bye—a chance to get some closure before another one of you crosses over the great divide to talking about mortgage rates and going off the pill.
March 18, 2015, 4:00am

The author (right) at a recent bachelorette party

No one likes bachelorette parties. I know this because I have spent a good part of the last decade wearing short dresses, drinking from long penis straws, and teasing the general public's fear of women in large groups. Last week, I went to my friend Keri's "basic-bitch"-themed bachelorette party, which is to say, I went to her " bachelorette-party"-themed bachelorette party. We wore matching pink bandanas. And glowing jewelry. We are not sorry for any of this. I am only sorry that now, in my chaos-obsessed life, the blithe nights and bad decisions with my girlfriends have become rare occasions reserved for impending weddings or break-ups.

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When you're stupid and young, you burn away entire summers chain smoking with your friends, sleepless and drinking Slurpees at 7 AM. You all listen to the same ten songs. You swap clothes. You fuck the wrong people. You spend hours straightening your hair. Then, quietly, you start restraining your impulses like an elephant to a stake. You and your friends' Lost Boy spirits leak out of you in healthy relationships and important jobs and problems that can't be solved by snorting Ritalin and watching Dawson's Creek. Gradually, the Ikea furniture gets thrown away and you realize, one morning, while watching a YouTube tutorial on how to make your own bread, that it's been years since you woke up facedown on a kitchen floor.

Getting engaged is like going through a Bret Easton Ellis phase in college: Inevitable, maybe, but still, you're a little sad when it happens to your friends. Probably because a wedding is your first funeral, and a bachelorette party is your last goodbye, a chance to get some closure before another one of you crosses over the great divide to talking about mortgage rates and going off the pill.

I went to my high school best friend's bachelorette party the same week that I had ended an eight-year relationship. Cara was marrying her high school sweetheart, and I was walking the plank that is fresh loneliness. Together, our paths intersected in a neon pink hotel room at the Flamingo in Las Vegas. The six of us ordered a male stripper to the room. He came in a cop uniform and did that clichéd thing that still makes your heart race where they pretend there's been a complaint about some noise. We spanked him and cackled with helpless breathlessness the way we all had on so many Friday nights in the past, hot-boxing our friend's Durango while parked to take in a full view of our stagnant town.

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The next day, while in an elevator en route to get some hangover Chipotle, Cara stopped talking mid-sentence. We all turned and stared at her blank face, which revealed little under the giant sunglasses she was wearing. She then proceeded to gracefully step off the escalator and fall onto the filthy carpet at the landing. When we lifted her sunglasses, only the whites of her eyes showed. In between her white eyes was a pink piece of penis glitter that had become embedded in her flesh. I started to nervously giggle while the more rational of our friends looked around for security. Suddenly, the pupils rolled back to the front of our dear bride's eyes and she stood as gracefully as she had fallen. We continued onto Chipotle as though Cara's seizure in the stairwell had been a stubbed toe. Wild hearts can't be broken.

For my friend Jackie's bachelorette party, we rented a party bus that came complete with a requisite stripper pole. As we drove through West Hollywood, the disco ball at the center of the converted senior citizen shuttle hit that pole in all the right places, as Britney Spears blared and we sang along. One by one, the perfect cocktail of the music and lighting and vodka in our bloodstreams deluded each of us into thinking that we could pole dance. We could be that sexy music video version of ourselves that we envisioned every time we listened to this music that was essentially a perfume ad.

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We'd each practiced the choreography a million times in our imaginations, and we each, without exception, came flying off of the pole to sustain bruises of some sort on the floor of the moving vehicle below us. The sober, licensed driver at the helm of this operation carried on, in stop-and-go traffic, as he heard our bodies thud softly beneath the bass line of "Gimme More." I tell you this so you know that being in a party bus is not only a crime but also a punishment.

Later that night, we took turns drunkenly humping the giant inflatable penis back at the hotel room. This reminded me that, at 3:30 AM, I needed to text the man I occasionally had casual sex with. I slammed my limp, drunk fingers onto my keyboard, and Cara gave me the green light to hit send on the message: "Ib wastedwubdaslibcaxhot." Of course, looking back, she was right. I should have stopped texting that person words in the English language much sooner.

That giant inflatable penis was safely stored for posterity's sake, and reemerged at Keri's party last week. We took suggestive selfies with it as we played today's hits as we pranced around in our underwear and tried each other's clothes and makeup on. Someone needed a razor. Someone had one. Someone hated her dress. Someone had an extra. We washed our hands in the shower because the champagne was chilling in the sink. Jackie put fake eyelashes on all of us with the speed and precision of a chef in a busy gourmet kitchen. We sat three to a mirror in bad light and told graphic sex stories and assured each other that we were not wearing too much makeup. We were all wearing too much makeup.

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When we arrived at the club, the bouncer eyed us snootily and consulted his clipboard. We flailed our matching light-up jewelry and wondered why he wouldn't think we weren't good enough for his establishment. After the standard amount of shame delay, it was confirmed that we were "on the list," and we were escorted inside to a "special VIP section," upstairs and at the rear of the club, isolated from contact with other humans. We were drunk, not dumb, so we rejected this bachelorette quarantine and got ourselves seated at a booth toward the entrance.

The lights were hypnotic and pulsing and we danced on the seats and I kicked off my heels because that is one brand of torture I am not built for, and, anyway, even though I had spent two hours getting ready, my appearance was the least of my concern. I just wanted to pivot my hips the way that we'd learned at an S-Factor pole dancing class earlier, dancing with no one and for no one but my own idealized version of myself. There was loud bass. Girls in lingerie carrying firecrackers and bottles of vodka. A man on stilts.

And then, blackness.

The power had gone out and suddenly, with the lights black, everything was visible for what it was. The club was a sticky warehouse. The expensive bottle service was a $30 thing of Ketel. We were a bunch of drunk bitches jumping on furniture. And we hardly noticed that the lights were out or that the music had stopped.

We sat down and started talking as though we were already mid-conversation. We told each other how much we loved each other, how we never got to see each other, not really. We took selfies in the darkness. My friends told me how much they loved my boyfriend. The lights stayed out and we continued to take pulls from our bottle, announcing to each other at intervals that we, somehow, were drunk.

The next morning, I awoke in the hotel room under a giant streamer penis, to the sound of Keri and Jackie talking while they lay in bed. We took down the pictures of the sexy cowboys we'd put up, threw away the plates of penis cookies we'd decorated. We got spicy Bloody Marys and reflected back on the night and kept coming back to how cool it was when the power went out—how awesome that moment was, when we just got to talk.

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