This week, planned and unplanned events resulted in a rare opportunity for me to stay at home alone for five full days. No kids, no husband -- just Taco, our 15-pound rescue dog, and 007, our 95-year-old cat.
Most people would look forward to a week to themselves. Not me. I'm a very social creature, but mainly I don't do well spending the night at home without another human in the house. Because I'm legally blind without corrective lenses, as soon as it gets dark, I spend a lot of time with the lights off, peering out the window, mistaking moving branches for serial killers or human-sized possums. What I lack in good vision I make up for with great hearing, so I'm constantly turning down the TV and panic-whispering to Taco, "Shh! Did you hear that? Is there someone at the window?" He may be a dog, but I swear he rolls his eyes at me.
So this week, I decided to think of it as an adventure. The first night I made it a point to venture out alone. I slapped on some red lipstick, featured a little cleavage, and spritzed on perfume, then went to a lovely French bistro where the only thing on the menu that would appeal to my 11-year-old was bread. I thought about my daughter eating bland camp food and chuckled wickedly. When the hostess asked how many, I proudly announced, "I'll be dining alone." I leaned in and lingered on the "alone" as if it was just a wee bit taboo, and there's a possibility I may have said it in an Arianna Huffington accent.
The hostess seated me at a corner table, where I noticed I was the only one in the restaurant without a companion. Who needs a companion when you have cleavage and red lipstick? I gazed out the window pensively, as if contemplating something deep and important, when actually all I was really thinking was how freaking ridiculous the bread and butter tasted and how happy I was that I didn't have to share it with a soul. I flirted with the cute blond waiter, telling him how cold I was, and asked him if he could look for a spare scarf in the lost and found, because evidently French restaurants are also elementary schools.
He skipped back empty-handed.
"I'm sorry, ma'am," he shrugged apologetically, the word "ma'am" hurling me back into reality as I realized he probably graduated with my stepson. Oops, forgot I was old for a second. Pardon moi.
At home, with the help of Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers and half a Benadryl, I made it through the night in one piece. I got up early the next morning and went to the grocery store to stock up on supplies. Walking right past the granola bars and Goldfish, I made a beeline for the wine aisle. I tossed Brussels sprouts, organic spinach and kale salad mix in the cart. I was going to make salads and run five miles every day!
I grabbed up two bundles of gladiolus for good measure, and topped off my findings with some sexy hot pink nail polish. (Bachelorettes have time to paint their own nails.) I also threw in a package of fried wonton salad toppers, because healthy salads need fried wontons. I'll let you guess what I ate first. If you guessed fried wontons without salad, you win. If you guessed that I threw down almost the entire package while sitting cross-legged in bed, reading a magazine and drinking coffee, you're my husband, and you planted a nanny cam before you left town.
The second night I went to dinner and a movie with girlfriends, and came home to discover a largish whitish spider crawling on the ceiling in my bedroom. I know you're not supposed to kill spiders because they kill mosquitoes, but there was no way I was transporting a big spider outside without assistance. I screamed a few choice words, then grabbed a bottle of Fat Hair Hairspray and sprayed him until he fell on the floor. Once I spotted him on the floor, I promptly smooshed him with a patent nude stiletto. I wiped up his remains with a Clorox wipe, gagging and apologizing the entire time, then attempted to high-five Taco, who kept his paws on the ground, looking at me with a combination of pity and horror. I recovered by painting my toenails hot pink while I watched HGTV.
The next night I met a new writer friend for happy hour. Her children are grown and out of the house, and she looks terrific. That woman is more carefree than a teenager, and her energy is contagious. I made a mental note to ship off my family more often. Afterwards, I went shopping. I've always said that stores should have candlelit dressing rooms and serve martinis, because women would feel great and buy a lot more, but if that can't happen, two watermelon margaritas before shopping will do the trick. Relaxed and worry-free, I took up temporary residency in Nordstrom Rack. I was in absolutely no hurry whatsoever. Instead of rushing around in search of a specific pair of black pants for a work trip, I casually flipped through the evening dresses as if I planned on wearing fuchsia sequins on Thursday. I called my mom. She filled me in on the latest while I tried on Prada heels and sashayed down an imaginary catwalk. I watched a woman with dirty twin toddlers try to wedge her swollen feet into some unfortunate sandals while one of the kids chewed on her handbag strap. I won't lie; I took a moment to pity her and then I went around the aisle and snickered. Shopping with kids? So last week.
The rest of the week sped past in a flash. The last night, I went to the museum and dinner with a friend, and was so tired from laughing with him that I went home and fell into bed without peeking out the window once. Around 10 p.m., it started to rain. And it rained. Then it rained some more. At 2 a.m., I woke up to an eerie silence and realized the electricity was off. I checked Facebook and email to pass the time, then heard a noise and peered outside, only to realize the streetlights were also off, and the only thing out there was a creepy black void. By that time I was so terrified, I got dressed by the light of my phone and drove to a 24-hour diner, where I made the most of it by ordering pancakes and watching the drunks sober up while eating late-night munchies.
I drove home around four o'clock. The storm had begun to pass, just as my week as a temporary bachelorette was coming to a close. I turned on the radio and switched on my daughter's favorite station. I belted out every last word to "My Humps," enjoying the fact that I wasn't embarrassing or annoying anyone. Sure, I missed my people, but now that I've tasted the sweet nectar of alone time, the next time I get the chance, you can bet I'll be just fine.