Getting Ready Is the Best Part of Going Out

I love getting ready to go out.

If you're an 18 to 28-year-old female, you know what I mean.

If you're not, I will succinctly define "getting ready to go out" as: preparing oneself aesthetically through make up, hair doing, and wardrobe selection for a social evening outside of one's home. The process is accompanied by energizing pop music and alcohol.

I do this alone when I live alone. I did this in a dorm room when I lived in a dorm room. I've done it while on archaeology digs in the middle of nowhere Serbia and I've done it in a Days Inn in the middle of nowhere Ohio.

But I did this most joyously when I lived in my first "adult" apartment from ages 23-26. I was living with my best friend/roommate Lauren and some irrelevant, ever-changing third roommate. I can't remember the names of those third roommates (Tara? Michelle?), just their distinguishing traits. One showered every morning at 6:47 a.m. and stomped when she walked. One only liked alcohol in piña coladas. She would blend up a Nalgene full before going to a party. One spent a lot of time in her bedroom with two obese cats. One spent a lot of time in her bedroom smoking pot. They were all innocuous and inconsequential to the beat of my daily life.

Lauren and I excelled at getting ready to go out. In fact, we were much better at getting ready to go out than actually going out. The quality of the former was always within our control, while the latter was influenced by too many outside variables, like the club's music, crowd, and alcohol availability.

Unfortunately we could not devise a method to authentically get ready to out without also going out. This is because the magic of getting ready to go out is based on potentiality and escalating momentum. As you get ready to go out, you're getting prettier, livelier, and drunker, and expect this exuberant buzz to carry you through the night.

On a typical going out night, our ritual begins after 6 p.m., when Lauren gets home from work. She stumbles into the apartment, in a huff, overheated from carrying her knock-off Longchamp work bag (a present from an ex-boyfriend's trip to China) and groceries picked up between the T and home. The groceries consist of tonic, limes, beer with a cute label, and tortilla chips for our inevitable late-night salsa snack.

Me: "Welcome home. Did you remember the chips?"

I am placidly g-chatting, etc., at my desk -- already home for hours because I'm a grad student and don't subscribe to rat-race, creativity-draining, 9 to 5-type work schedules. Plus I like to run or get manicures on Friday afternoons.

Lauren sits on the love seat. I'm on the sofa. We eat white-girl burritos and watch an episode of New Girl. It's so dumb but endearing! No teacher could afford those outfits! Maybe the protagonists will kiss this week! My brown rice, vegan teriyaki burrito tastes predictably cardboardesque, but is the right quantity and density to put in my stomach before drinking.

Getting ready to go out officially begins after showers, and then it's time to get serious about fun.

One of our best friends lives three blocks away, close enough to get ready to go out with us. Another of our best friends lives three hours away, far enough and close enough to routinely visit on the weekends.

The three-hours-away friend, Sarah, calls from street level and I dash down to help her deal with parking. I hop into her Subaru and we drive around the same blocks for 20 minutes before finding a spot. We place the visitor's pass on the windshield and are done with responsibilities for the weekend. Phew!

Sarah's only staying one night -- or two if hungover -- but she has a roller suitcase. It's necessary to bring a multitude of clothes because it's impossible to predict what she'll be in the mood to wear and the point is trying on lots of options and accumulating a massive pile of discards before settling on something that says, "I don't care."

Lauren is in charge of the music: catchy, girly pop music by Rhianna, Lady Gaga, and the likes. There's some song of the moment, which we will play a dozen times before going out, and once we are out will hear a dozen more times. We will rejoice every time it's played this month, cringe next month, and listen indifferently when it comes on random shuffle in a year. When I moved into that apartment in fall of 2009, the song was Ke$ha's "Tick Tock." When I moved out in spring of 2012, it was whatshername's "Call Me Maybe." From that data, I'm sure you can interpolate the songs in between.

We start the music with, "I threw a wish in the well..." and fix our first drinks. These are the best drinks of the night because they symbolize the end of the work week and the start of a weekend of infinite potential. I have a Baileys-spiked coffee. Lauren has a vodka tonic with a straw. Sarah has a Whale's Tail beer out of the bottle. Our drink choices reflect the fact that we are individuals with unique preferences, and not a conformist clique of melded personalities.

Maddie, our friend from three blocks away, arrives. She has a bottle of wine in hand. We all switch to wine because we like doing the same thing because that's what best friends do.

Maddie is already dressed, but she has some unnecessary primping to do, like curling her hair, just to straighten it again.

We're prancing around the apartment. We're playing "Call Me Maybe." I'm deliberating between heels and flats. Sarah is administering mascara. Maddie is updating us about her lunch with a coworker slash love interest.

Maddie: "So we order at the counter and they think we're together, so they ring us up together before we can stop them. So I say I'll cover it because I want to pay with LevelUp anyway, and he says, 'Okay I owe you a beer sometime.'"

We're somewhere between drinks 2 and 3.

Maddie: "So there are two promising points in this story. One, the barista thought we were a couple, so we must have exuded couple body language. Two, he owes me a beer sometime, which is like an open invitation for drinks together."

Me: "Text him and tell him to buy you that drink tonight."

Her: "No way. We need to do like after work drinks before night out drinks."

Sarah: "I agree. Texting him to come out tonight is like saying you want to sleep with him."

Lauren: "But you do want to sleep with him."

Maddie: "I do want to sleep with him, but I don't want him to know that I want to sleep with him."

The computer blasts, "And all the other boys... try to chase me..."

We're somewhere past drink 3. The problem with bottles of wine is that it's difficult to remember which drink number you're on. Wine is just so flowing.

"But here's my number... so call me maybe."

I'm on the floor, sitting cross-legged with my phone in hand. "Maybe I should text the Dartmouth boys."

I am referring to some acquaintances from college who live near us now. They are tall and fun to get drunk with. Certainly make-out-able, but not very dateable, and in fact their presence may preclude us from finding mature, dateable men (you know all those mature, dateable men who hang out at Top 40s dance clubs).

My suggestion receives eye rolls.

Lauren: "Do not text the Dartmouth boys."

Lauren is sensible even when drunk. She's the one who will later dissuade me from getting the promotional shots that are neon green and in test tubes. She's the one that will hold onto the coat check tickets and know when it's time to leave. She's the one who will get us to stop for alcohol-absorbing pizza on the way home.

But Lauren has weaknesses too. She says, "Maybe I should text Finance Guy."

Finance Guy is a guy who works in finance, who Lauren went out with last weekend, and then never heard from.

Me: "Do not text Finance Guy."

Sarah: "I don't get it. How did the date end?"

Lauren: "Fine, I think. He walked me to the T, gave a friendly hug, and said 'Hope to see you soon."

Me: "Ehhhh. I think 'Hope to see you soon' means 'I don't want to see you."

Sarah: "Shut up. It could mean 'Hope to see you soon.'"

Me: "Ehhhh. Not with a hug."

Maddie: "Well what did you say?"

Lauren: "I said, 'Yeah hopefully."

Maddie: "But was it like 'Yeah hopefully' in an encouraging voice or was it like 'Yeah hopefully,' in your cynical, I'll-never-trust-men-again-I-should-just-settle-for-a-dog voice?"

Lauren: "I don't have that voice!"

Maddie: "You totally have that voice."

Sarah: "You sometimes have that voice."

Me: "It's a good voice to have."

Sarah changes out of a slinky Urban Outfitters dress and puts on an Eddie Bauer flannel, with shorts, tights, and heeled ankle boots. I put on some Mardi Gras beads because the holiday wasn't that long ago.

We've listened to Call Me Maybe about 5 times and emptied two bottles of wine. I take off the Mardi Gras beads because that was a dumb idea to wear them.

Lauren suddenly gets bossy, but we need her to, or else we'll never leave the apartment.

Laure: "We're leaving in five minutes. Finish your drinks. Pee. Get your purses." She puts "Call Me Maybe" on one last time.

Maddie secretly texts her coworker love interest: Out in Cambridge with some friends. What about that drink you owe me?

I take off my heels. I put back on my heels. Yes, I have enough drunken confidence to go out in heels.

Lauren secretly texts Finance Guy: What's up tonight?

Sarah would text someone, but she must preserve her red sliver of battery for emergencies. She left her Samsung charger three hours away at home, and we all have iPhones.

9:45 p.m. The music is shut off. We exit the apartment with the determined gait of drunk people pretending not to be drunk. We're on a mission to get to the club before the cover charge is enacted at 10 p.m. Yes, it will be empty and awkward for a while, but we will have each other, and what more do we need than best friends!? ... and the potential make out partners we secretly texted.

The night out may be a flop, but getting ready to go out is always the greatest.