I’ve always said I like the “getting ready” part of a night out way more than I enjoy the actual event, no matter its importance.
But you know what I mean, right? Let me set the scene: you, a handful of your closest girlfriends, maybe a bottle of wine or some beers to sip on before you leave. My scenes are usually set to a Britney Spears or Drake soundtrack, but yours can be whatever you want. There are curling irons heating, smudges of eyeliner in the sink and the smell of hairspray and perfume permeates the air. Someone’s doing her nails. Someone is furiously texting. You’ll fight over mirror space and the poky friend will keep you all waiting even though the taxi is idling outside.
It started in our girlhood. When we were in junior high, we were so exciting to attend our first dances that we’d get ready hours in advance, kneeling beside my best friend Ali’s giant ballet-style mirror and painstakingly applying body glitter and trying our hand at shaky eyeliner and awkward roller curls. We were posed prettily in our silly outfits by our mothers and sent on our way, feeling incredibly pretty. Looking back, we made our fair share of mistakes – shimmery blue-white eyeshadow, crimped hair, frosty lipgloss – but I loved it. I can still taste the chunky Clinique on my lips and smell the teenybop perfume.
We grew into cheerleaders, waiting our turn to have our hair braided and pulled up into bobbing, perky ponytails, piling on the mascara so it would show up as we kicked and yelled on the sidelines. We kept traveling kits of our supplies: bobby pins, a curling iron, a handful of ponytails and shimmery body lotion that managed to get past the anti-glitter censors of high school cheer. The boys would be outside as we primped for dances and prom, waiting for us to emerge like tan, sparkling butterflies to capture their hearts. During the day, we were the girls they’d grown up with, but our few hours getting ready turned us into sirens. During the day, we were our normal selves, but with a little help from some makeup and styling tools, we looked like the girls we wanted to be.
We grew into young women, passing around cheap vodka mixed with whatever we had on hand as we painted on cat-eye liner and red lipstick. Or we’d pile into my apartment and our bride would paint her face by the light of the living room windows the afternoon before her wedding. There was always champagne fizzing away in our glasses, and I’d look around and see the familiar, beloved faces of my best friends as they subtly enhanced their features, coming out stunning. All of them became instantly mythical, though I thought we were all just as beautiful when we let our hair down and washed those faces off the next morning.
Getting ready with your girls is one of those irreplaceable feminine rituals to share; someone has a killer new lipstick to pass around, and the friend who can’t even put her hair in a ponytail gets help from a more talented pair of hands. Maybe you’re just going to the bar, or maybe out to something more formal like a prom or a wedding. Whatever it is, there’s an undercurrent of excitement and anticipation that you don’t often feel when you’re getting ready on your own. You gotta have your girls.