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May 10, 2008

Sex and Another City


For the last few years, I've been organizing meetings of the "Mom's Movie Club" - informal get-togethers at local theaters, for matinees that end just in time to pick up the kids from school.

So it was no surprise when my friend Mary Ellen called the other day to ask if we'd be buying tickets on May 30 to see the new "Sex and the City" movie.

She suggested we vary our format a bit: meet for cocktails (Cosmopolitans, natch!), grab some dinner and go to an evening showing. One of our favorite theaters holds special "21 and Over" screenings where you can drink cocktails while you watch, and we thought this film would be perfect for that.

My husband listened to my end of the conversation with dismay. "You mean, you're going to see it WITHOUT ME?"

I don't know if he caught my annoyance. One of the reasons I began cajoling the other moms in my group to see movies with me is that he NEVER wants to go -- unless the title contains the words "Bourne," "Austin Powers" or "Star Trek."

On top of that, my husband was never a fan of the TV series. Every time he hears the theme music, he comments about "that lame show." Granted, he did enjoy watching the series finale when it first aired in 2004 -- but I always figured that was because it was OVER. (This was before heavily edited versions started running all the time in syndication.)

On the other hand, I LOVED the show. It may be hard to believe, looking at the middle aged suburban mother I am today, but I got hooked on it because I identified with Carrie and her friends. They remind me of my younger, single self. My life was just like theirs...

...only without the City. Or most of the Sex. And cheaper shoes.

Maybe it's because like Carrie and the girls, I lived alone well into my 30's. I worked long hours in the entertainment industry and didn't have a lot of time for relationships. I did, however, manage to get together often with my close single girlfriends for late dinners and clubbing.

It was the 1980's and we were drinking kamikazes and Long Island Ice Teas, dancing to New Wave and old Motown, and wearing tight, short dresses in electric colors. I remember what it was like to live paycheck to paycheck, max out your credit cards to buy a fanatastic outfit so you'd look hot on that first date... only to get dumped after a few short weeks, and then to cry on your girlfriends' shoulders.

My friends back then were as close to me as my family -- maybe even closer, because they never asked me embarrassing questions about why I hadn't settled down yet, or didn't I want to start a family? My friends understood: That if you graduate college without falling in love with someone you want to be with the rest of your life, it's just going to be that much harder when you enter the job market.

Your pool of prospects is a lot smaller, because you are now spending eight hours a day (or more) in an office or other company setting. You don't come into contact with as many people, and relationships with most of the ones you do meet (i.e., co-workers, bosses, clients) would be inappropriate.

So you hang out with your girlfriends at clubs and bars and you flirt, and sometimes, you agree to go on a date. But there wouldn't be a lot of follow-up meetings, because those guys often turned out to be inappropriate, too. When you hang out in bars, you meet a lot of people who drink.

I don't mean to give the impression that I spent my years as a single woman single-mindedly trying to land a husband. Who has time for that? I had career goals and was focused on those, and between my job and my friends, I was busy and having fun. I might even venture to say that I was fairly happy.

But as I got older and more of my girlfriends started settling down and dropping out of our evenings out, I started to worry about my own future. I knew I wanted children some day, and I knew I didn't want to raise them alone. I wasn't too crazy about the idea of growing old alone, either. I had premonitions of myself as a 70-year-old cat lady, still living in my same one-bedroom apartment.

It didn't help that the year I turned 30, my younger sister got married and almost immediately became pregnant. That was also the year that magazines proclaimed that women my age were more likely to die of a terrorist attack than ever get married. And the way my life was going, I believed it.

Since then, those predictions have been proven wrong, and eventually, I met and fell in love with someone I wanted to spend my life with. My 30-year-old self would never have dreamed I could be happy as a stay-at-home mom, part-time chauffeur and PTA member (my dreams back then involved an ever-upward climb on the career ladder and a live-in nanny), but here I am. And I can enjoy watching Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte on their quest because mine is over.

I went to my favorite theater's website and discovered that they are indeed holding a special Sex and the City party on opening night: For $60, you get a reservation in the theater café/bar, two cocktails (featuring SKYY cosmopolitans & martinis), savory & sweet heavy appetizers, A "Sex and the City" fedora and logo martini glass -- all taxes and gratuity included. It also includes admission to the 10:30 show.

"I don't know," Mary Ellen said. "Sixty dollars is a lot." Yes, but that includes drinks, appetizers and souvenirs. We were probably going to spend that much anyway.

In the end, the deal breaker for me was that 10:30 p.m. show. The woman who used to dance till the bars closed has been gone a long time. I need my sleep!

So we're planning to go to the matinee. But we're making car pool arrangements so we can get a drink after the show, and maybe a manicure -- because that's our idea of fun these days.

I told my husband that if the movie is good (and I really want it to be!) I'll be happy to see it again with him. But I was curious WHY he's so keen on seeing it. It turns out that he identifies with one of the characters, too: Mr. Big.

I'm too busy laughing at that to comment.

Original 50-Something Moms Blog post, cross-posted at LA Moms Blog by Donna Schwartz Mills. Read more of her take on crazy Southern California life at her personal blog, SoCal Mom.


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