by Laura Sillerman | bio

Thirty-five women arrived at a nice French restaurant on Sunday with varying degrees of anticipation and dread.

The occasion: a 70th birthday celebration for a wonderful woman.

Let’s be honest. Even though we love the hostess, we don’t always love the thought of the party. And this one, with a diverse group of women who didn’t really know each other, smack in the middle of a winter Sunday, on the day Daylight Savings Time kicked in, wasn’t exactly a lock as a hoot, though the birthday girl surely is.

It turned out to be something that made me wish I had brought a video camera to share with all at WVFC and on YouTube.

The women at my table were astounding — and believe me, you’ll hear more about them here in the future. One is part of a women’s angel investing group (new speak for venture investing) that only invests in women’s business ideas it thinks can become $50-million corporations within five years.

Another has started a company that takes care of all the details of helping seniors moving to new residences. Another is a head-hunter for nonprofits. There was a healer and a woman who is representing artists whose work she believes needs to be made famous. Not a clunker in the group.

Elaine, the hostess/honoree, looked gorgeous, and Hal, her sexy, 80-year-old beau and twin flame, arrived for the entertainment, carrying a rose and grinning from ear to ear-ringed ear.

The entertainment is what I wish I could share with all of you. They did Jeopardy, complete with the big board (I’ll take “Eccentricities” for $200!). And, yes, there was a keyboardist who played the time-passing theme.

But you’ve seen party trivia before. Have you, however, ever seen a group of over-60s doing commercial breaks with lyrics like these:

“If you think you’re out of luck and you want to [email protected]#k a duck, call (name of therapist)!”

“If your va-jay-jay is reddish because you have a fetish, call (name of therapist)!”

It went on and on … touching on Catherine the Great with a horse for a mate, as well as rhyming “late” with “masturbate.”

Several of us wept.

We teared up not only from laughter but from the sheer freedom and love that these women — wearing plastic derbies topped with glittering cut-outs of Paris monuments, boas and Astaire-type canes — were the picture of vitality and mischief.

The weeping was for the having arrived, for the missing “Look at Me” and the present “Look at Us.” It was every cliché word you can imagine: magical, inspiring, touching, cinematic and important.

It wasn’t dull, automatic, predictable or ordinary. Neither are women of this age group.

I encourage all of us to spend more time in the collective pursuit of the outrageous. Who better to gather in support of the idea that we’ve done a lot of living and deserve to give it voice?

Sing out, sisters! Sing like these women did — of the sweetness of 70 and the earned chance to surprise with a sense that nothing is beyond us now.

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  • Betsy O. March 12, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    I am one of the “dancers + singers” from Elaine’s party.
    Laura, your words are a vivid visual celebration that keeps Elaine’s 70th alive. Thank you for so eloquently saying what we also felt.
    The fun was palpable and sentiments part of our pulse. Just like every great work of art has a powerful inspiration, we were compelled to create and perform something extraordinary to celebrate (and honor) our friend Elaine. Books and films illustrate how critically important women’s friendships are in their lives. We jumped at the opportunity to perform a grand gesture to celebrate our devotion to Elaine.
    For the most part I would say that the four of us who performed (and certainly Elaine herself) “stop and smell the roses” – we definitely do not take anything for granted. All of us different, but very much the same in our love for Elaine. We agree we are better people for knowing her. Our lives are richer because she is in them.
    Because of my friendship with Elaine I have expanded my understanding of the gift that life is. Every day is full of value; every day something outrageous and joyful can happen if you determine it to be.
    Thank you Elaine for being a white light in my life.
    Thank you Laura for giving me the opportunity to think again about how profound the experience was/is.