Emotional Health · Family & Friends

On the Bright Side: Are Women Better at Having Fun?

lunchIllustration by C.A. Martin

Cecilia Ford, who writes about emotional health for us on Thursdays, now writes On the Bright Side. This is a series created to encourage all of us to take stock of our strengths as women of wisdom, to help us re-frame issues that could be seen as a loss or seen only in negative ways, and to be aware of the bounty that is ours in this second half of life that certainly can be seen On the Bright Side. This week she discusses “Are Women Better At Having Fun?” —  Dr. Patricia Yarberry Allen, Publisher


About 15 years ago I was invited to a dinner party where I knew only the hostess. I was asked to come without my husband, and all of the other guests were women, aged 25 to 85. There was no particular common thread, except that we all knew the woman who had invited us, a talented photographer whose daughter would be in the same kindergarten class with mine the following fall.

At midnight the phone rang. It was one of the husbands, who was worried that his wife had not come home yet and might have had a misadventure. What had actually happened was that the conversation at dinner was so lively and entertaining, we had all lost track of time.

It was only then that I realized how different this party had been from usual gatherings. The topics we discussed ranged from spiritual, philosophical issues to work challenges, and yes, there was some talk of children and family. What we did not talk about was real estate, schools, or the economy, which were not only the mainstay of most dinner conversation between couples, but really the only topics we ever discussed when husbands were present.

Vowing not to let this be a single night’s adventure, a few months later I became part of a group of women who met once a month for a night out without children or husbands. The group, which was loosely organized, regularly accepted new members and was referred to as “Carmine’s,” after the family-style Italian restaurant where the women had originally gathered. The name stuck, although we had long since moved on to new venues because Carmine’s became too noisy.

Women’s groups have always been popular, but they started to become more organized around discussing ideas with the consciousness-raising groups that were spawned by Women’s Liberation in the 1960s and ’70s. Today, book groups are enormously popular, and though men are not strictly excluded from them, I know of few men who belong to them. Our mothers’ generation may have been members of the Ladies Auxiliary, the PTA, or Hadassah, but seeking each other’s company because we might actually have more fun that way was not something openly acknowledged.


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