Last Friday, I was on a JetBlue flight, surrounded by the Greenwich, Connecticut Boys’ Water Polo team who are headed to the Junior Olympics in San Jose. This was announced by the pilot, whose voice I was too busy scrutinizing for slurring or tipsy joie de vivre to appreciate what I was in for: five hours of good-natured, sun-bleached young boys wearing flip-flops and torn jean shorts and stepping over my lap every two minutes. It was physically impossible for these kids to sit still. I could hear them straining against their seat belts during takeoff. They were sweet, but I quickly had had enough of being knocked to one side while I attempted to sleep. And sometime during the flight, my lower back began to protest sitting for so long. I was in agony. I was sweating and trying to knead my lower back with my knuckles, while I considered asking one of these boys for a massage. Could you imagine? “Excuse me, young man—perhaps you wouldn’t mind palpating my lumbar region?” As I begin to unbutton my shirt. And one of their many guardians pushes me down to the aisle and locks me in a half-nelson.
Finally we arrived and somehow, although I was now officially all nervous and sweating, I made it to baggage claim and there was Melissa, frowning at Baggage Carousel #1. “This guy was throwing himself on the carousel trying to get at his luggage,” she said, “doesn’t he know it comes back around?”
“Shut up and come over here,” I said, and then I forced her to hug me. And I have to say, it was not an awkward hug at all. She explained that her friends have been helping her learn how to hug. Which was a good thing, because she was so adorable that if I hadn’t been able to hug her it might have killed me.
For a while everything was a blur, to be honest, because all I can think was, “Oh my god! I’m here with Melissa and she’s so cool! And I’m making her laugh!” Mrs. Kennedy observed at one point, “Alice was funny, but Melissa, you make her seem even funnier,” which was absolutely true. Melissa has the most infectious, addictive laugh that it made everyone else laugh even more. I was pretty much unbearable all weekend because nothing was as fun as making Melissa laugh. Not that she wasn’t funny in her own right, because oh God she was. If she wasn’t laughing at something I said, she was making me laugh, and we were pretty much hysterical from the moment we got in the taxi until… well, until she left.
While Melissa and I were settling in at the hotel and braying like donkeys at everything we did or said, Mrs. Kennedy called me to update us on her arrival, giving me a sneak preview of her husky incredibleness. Finally she arrived. As she attempted to check in we lurched toward her giggling and snorting. She raised one eyebrow at us and we gawked up at her and then we climbed step ladders to give her a hug. “There’s a Trader Joe’s near here,” say Mme. Kennedy. “I thought we could go buy drinks and snacks.” I like drinks and snacks, too! I thought. It’s all going to be all right!
I definitely felt like I had to grow up a little to become worthy of Mrs. Kennedy’s company. She’s hilarious but entirely sane and sure of himself, where I’m jumpy and dorky and sticking straws up my nose to get a laugh. Dooce called her “grounded,” and I think that about sums it up, and so I shall steal it. Grounded! It’s definitely from all the yoga.
I can’t fully explain how incredible it was to meet Melissa and Mrs. Kennedy. I’m struggling to make a joke here, but I can’t, for once. I had felt for a long time like they are two of my best friends, which felt awfully strange, as I had never met them. And then I met them, and they were even better than I had imagined, truly. Nicer, funnier, and hotter. I was free to make the most tasteless jokes I could think up around them and they still liked me. Or sometimes they made the joke before I did. The minute we were all together, all I could think was, Why in hell are we going to this BlogHer thing when we could hang out in the room for three straight days and have as much fun as three people are allowed to have?
However, we had already paid the money, and there were other people we wanted to see, actually. So we were off to find the BlogHer dinner.
A fellow blogger was nice enough to give us a ride to the restaurant, where the three of us proceeded to offend her sensibilities (and Ken Kato’s, who was sitting in the front seat). This was when I knew I was in the right company:
Melissa: I will now make a saucy comment about penises!
Woman: Ha, ha! I will quickly change the subject to let you know how inappropriate you are! Let’s talk about the restaurant!
Mrs. Kennedy: I will talk of penises, as well!
Me: Yes, yes! Penises, penises!
Melissa: I will top you all, with my penis talk!
Woman: Ha, ha! Cut that shit out, I am implying, as I talk once again about the goddamn restaurant!
By the end of the ride we were snorting and holding our mouths closed with our hands to keep from giggling out loud. I’m sure she hated us.
Amanda was completely adorable and sweet and I want to remove her hair and paste it to my skull. And JenB! For no intelligent reason, I had always been intimidated by her, probably because she’s Canadian and she might bomb my house. And while she did threaten to do so a few times that night, she was also sweet and gracious and oh my god, so funny. In a dry, astonishingly smart way. She’s the person you want to sit next to at an event so you can catch every bit of her commentary. And then you can feel cool and glad that you’re on her side. And the “aboots” just aboot slayed me. Canadians! I also wanted some of her hair for my skull.
Suddenly, there was a blonde presence at the door, and a murmuring could be heard amongst the peoples. Could that be Heather? And was that tall redhead behind her, was that Maggie? It was. And we stood, for we were in the presence of royalty. Heather did a sly little strut over to us and I immediately removed my panties and tossed them in her direction. A friend of mine who reads Dooce just sent me an email calling Heather “The Simon LeBon of the '00s,” and I think that pretty much sums it up.
Heather’s first words to me, after we hugged, were “You are so cute.” Dooce called me cute. And, oh, god, in that Southern accent of hers. I removed my second pair of panties and handed them over.
Here’s the thing about Heather: as smart and funny as I already knew her to be, she was also incredibly gracious and warm and empathetic. When she’s listening to you, you kind of feel like you’re being heard for the first time. Then you want to sit in her lap. (And hand over your panties.) All the people who enjoy hurling abuse at her via the Internets would immediately be stricken with shame and deep regret if they ever had the pleasure of meeting her, she’s that gentle and sweet and lovely. Then again, all those people would probably also instantly fall in love with her and want her to live in their vans with them, forever and ever, and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t want to live in your van so you back the fuck off, you hear?
And Maggie! Another one who scared me, for no good reason except I didn’t know her beforehand so immediately assumed she was too cool for me. Which, pretty much, she was, but she still deigned to talk to me and make me eat JenB’s exotic foreign candies while we drank in our room. She’s incredibly funny and has impeccable comic timing; in addition, she was glamorous and eminently lickable. Although I held off, for both our sakes.
I wish I could tell you what Heather, Melissa, Mrs. Kennedy, JenB, Maggie, and Amanda and I talked about in our room that night. But there was a lot of drinking. At one point Heather became sincere and made Melissa cry. I remember thinking, “Hey, I’m not feeling as drunk as I thought I would feel!” and then a few minutes later I tried to string together some words and they were coming out all wrong and I put my head in my hands and said “Oh my god I was so drunk.”
After everyone leaves our room, Mrs. Kennedy and Melissa and I actually attempted to push the beds together. For a family bed! In our drunken minds, This made more sense than for us to decide who would get to sleep alone. Sadly, the beds were nailed to the wall, to stop the kinky sex perverts like us. So Melissa and I got to share a bed. Many jokes were made about spooning each other. In bed, Melissa will not stop talking and also begging us to make her stop talking. I considered making her stop by kissing her full on the mouth, but instead we listened to this: “Oh my god you guys I’m so drunk. Oh my god you guys I love you. I love you guys! I do! Oh my god you guys make me shut up. Don’t let me keep talking. Oh my god. You guys! Do any of you snore I hope you don’t snore! You guys!” Approximately 30 seconds after this monologue faded away, Melissa began to snore, loudly. And Mrs. Kennedy and I laughed at her. “You guys, stop it!” Melissa whimpered. Finally she went to sleep. And whapped me in the face several times throughout the night as she flung her limbs hither and yon.
We made it to the BlogHer conference the next day… eventually. Everyone was already there, all perky and ready for action, and we came stumbling in like a bunch of hungover adolescents, missing the opening meeting and sitting around a table, drinking coffee and wincing. People kept coming over and asking, “What group are you?” and we all responded, “Waa? Wuzza?” Then one of us realizes this was the allotted time for some kind of Birds of a Feather Meet-Ups or something. And we kept telling people that we were all just people sitting around. And then that person would get a glimpse of Heather and, temporarily blinded, stumble away.
Then Tracey entered our group. Tracey! What a surprise she was! I remembered that she had commented on my site a couple of times, and I had looked at her blog and thought, “She’s cool, I should really link to her,” and then I returned to picking my nose. My first thought about Tracey was that she was all punk rock, with her “Defend Baltimore” shirt and her white-blond hair, and then I wondered if she was going to beat me up. Thankfully she did not, even after I asked her some inane question like, “Didn’t you comment on my site? What did you say again?” Because I expect everyone to memorize their comments to me, apparently. Tracey sat with us and was incredibly funny and wondrous and quickly she was declared One Of Us. She fit seamlessly into our routine of Mocking Everything Around Us For No Good Reason.
Then there was our Flame, Blame and Shame lunch, in which I attempted to do all three to Melissa. Before the actual talk began somehow the discussion at the table turned to—of all things—vacuums. Heather intoned, “Dyson totally changed my life, y’all,” and we were hanging on her every word. We laughed self-consciously at our talk of vacuums and then we were all, “But seriously, you think the Dyson was worth the money?” and then Heather was like, “Hell, yeah.”
After lunch, Heather and Maggie left. We wept. Well, Melissa did. I’ve never met someone who cries more than I do! I like it!
Although I was enjoying the hell out of being with my friends and meeting all kinds of new people, I was also becoming increasingly annoyed by an undercurrent of derision aimed at the “Mommy Bloggers” (no matter how I try, I still hate that term). At the Mommy Blogging panel, an editor admonished us for always being the ones who attack each other and also for being upset with the NYT article. Which, um, isn’t true (for the first part) and misses the point (for the second). But whatever. If we’re not valued enough, it’s our own fault, and look, even when we get attention we whine about it. We are such whiny bitches.
Then at the closing seminar another comment was made in which mommy bloggers were dismissed, and my hand flew up. For about fifteen minutes I sat there with my hand straight up and I was going Oooh! Oooh! Ooh! Finally it was my turn, and I made up some shit about how mommy bloggers are important too, blah blah, and I wish I could remember what I said but I was too nervous. The important part was that I made Melissa cry. And that’s what I came for.
That night we got drunk again. At least, I tried. The previous night proved that I am not capable of the heavy drinking, and after a beer and single glass of wine, I knew I couldn’t handle a repeat performance. Melissa repeatedly told me how disappointed she was in me, and I attempted to Shame her by observing, “I guess it makes me uncool! That I can’t drink that much! I guess I’m not part of the cool crowd, is that what you’re saying!” and she shrugged and said, “Pretty much.”
We had worn out Eden, so we left her alone in the room and went to Tracey’s, where we laughed until we all felt sick and Melissa said, “You guys, I have to go to sleep” approximately 37 times. Melissa had to leave early the next day, so she said her final goodbyes to Tracey and Jen. And when Melissa and Tracey hugged, the Promise of the Awkward Hug was finally fulfilled. Oh, people, I wish I had had a video camera with me. I have never seen anything like it. I had no idea anything could be that awkward. There were elbows getting in the way and Melissa was grimacing like she might get slapped and Tracey was saying things like, “Wait, just put your arm over there. No, not there. Wait, ” and JenB and I were hysterical. I laughed so hard I fell down. I was lying in the hall of the Westin and I couldn’t breathe, I was laughing so hard.
Oh, there was so much more. I missed so much in this. I met many other incredible people and I didn’t even mention them here. But my poor hands need a rest, and Henry is getting up from his nap.
It was incredible. I cried all the way home because lord I love these whiny bitches.