Both of my sisters had big roles in their community’s Valentine’s day performance of Tony and Tina’s Wedding this weekend; they coerced me, again, as only sisters can do, to come out of hairdressing retirement and do their hair for the show. It doesn’t matter to them that I don’t do hair any more, that I haven’t done hair in nearly 10 years, and when I did, I never did big hair—my specialty was sleek bobs, sassy cropped ‘dos, and naturally textured hair— the extreme opposite end of the hair spectrum from the “Jersey Shore, the Lost 80s Years” look they desired. (Though I’m a product of the 80s, I was a “new wave” kinda chick—short asymmetrical, edgy was my scene). All of that is to say, I have no idea what the hell I’m doing when it comes to “big hair!”
For those who are unfamiliar with Tony and Tina’s Wedding, it’s an improv-esque show, where audience members are also “guests” at this raucous wedding—lots of crazy antics are going on all around and audience members are expected to join in on the fun, from the wild conga line and bouquet toss, to joining grandma snorting “coke” (B12 powder, btw), and a pregnant bridesmaid taking swigs from a bracelet flask, another bridesmaid belly-dancing to Ave Maria, to bawdy jokes by the resident nun and priest, lots and lots of dancing—immense sensory overload for this newly-professed introvert. Just typing all that gave me a mild anxiety attack.
I was roped into the same behind-the-scenes role last year, but mostly in a boozy haze—last year’s performance was a month after our mom’s death, we were reeling form her unexpected departure, any time my siblings and I got together was an occasion to “toast” our mom and grieve our hearts out. Last year’s performance of T&T was no exception. It was fun, but heartbreaking and emotional and all kinds of things wrapped up into that weekend, which turned into a haze that ended in, of course, a massive hangover and not a lot of coherent memories.
SO. Fast forward a year later. This weekend, I did the hair and attended the “wedding.” 100% sober AF. Here are some of my field notes:
- I remember every last minute of the night
- time goes much slower when sober, sometimes ecstatically, other times excruciatingly, so
- drunk people are simultaneously entertaining, exhausting and downright annoying
- All night long—this was a 3 1/2 hour performance, not counting our big hair performance prior—I was hit by wave after wave of “good GOD, give me a drink—MANY drinks—so I can tolerate all these f’ing drunk people!!!!” (which were audience members—the cast isn’t allowed to drink “on the job”).
- Which made me think a lot about the many reasons this introvert drinks (correction: drank—47 days AFAF today!)—to numb myself to sensory overload that literally feels assaulting at times, to tolerate (and engage in) unintelligible conversations, to kick my introverted nature into “extroverted” high gear to fit in
- Fortified by sparkly water, I rode the waves (no one questioned what I was drinking, btw, because I didn’t make a production about it and because really, no one actually cares!), I observed, engaged when so inclined, sat back and just observed as needed, and took copious mental notes. I was briefly tempted to collect a “data point” by drinking, but quickly thought, “what’s the point? I know, too well, where that would take me.” My 47 days AF are too precious to me and right now, I’m fiercely protective of them; instead, riding the waves (a helluva a skill to develop, btw), studying my thoughts, feelings, reactions to these kind of settings, AFAF, are far more valuable data.
- I collapsed into bed at the end of the night (AFTER washing my face and brushing my teeth AND putting on jammies!). exhausted, but without gorging on wings or pizza or some other booze-fueled greasy shit-food late-night “snack”
- I woke up so refreshed, well-rested, and awash in fond memories of the evening, not a single regret of saying or doing something stupid, embarrassing, humiliating, or completely out of my true nature
- My AF self is more reticent but much more present and engaged with her world that my drunk self ever was. I was able to absorb all the action going on around me from a broader sense, laughed authentically, danced like Lorraine on Seinfeld and didn’t give a damned what I looked like, and conversed with true connections, rather than experiencing the showing from a myopic, self-centered place
- Talking with drunk people is exhausting—trying to keep up with loud, looping, nonsensical conversations that never seem to go anywhere wore on my patience. The jokes are not funny, conversations not particularly insightful, and it’s curious how reactive people can get if you don’t get their jokes or what they’re trying to say…but instead of reacting back, I simply smiled and excused myself
- My sisters’ hair KICKED MAJOR ASS, the hairdos became their own characters! People couldn’t keep their hands off the hair, like they were touching sculptures! 😅 My sister, Jill (in white) used her bouffant as a “purse,” pulling lipstick and kleenex from her pompadour; my youngest sister, Gretchen (in red), rocked out to a Joan Jett solo, and her hair rocked along with her, withstanding vigorous air-guitaring and head-banging, conga-dancing and going into “labor” at the end of the show!
- My mad hairdressing skillz have gone back into retirement, until maybe next year.
- I had a GREAT time at the wedding! Though, dancing sober is going to take some practice…
- Thanks for reading and for being on this journey with me. xo