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It's a Chick Thing
Celebrating the Wild Side of Women's Friendship
By Ame Mahler Beanland, Emily Miles Terry
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2000 Ame Mah1er Beanland and Emily Miles Terry
All rights reserved.
chicks with chutzpah
A royal AdventuRe
On July 15, a week before the wedding, Andrew had his stag night at Aubrey House with the likes of Elton John and Sir David Frost. I desperately wanted to gate- crash, but the fortress was impregnable: high wall, single entrance, guards with major biceps—no go.
As a fallback, Diana and I staged a hen night. With a few co-conspirators in tow, we donned gray wigs and dressed up in authentic policewoman outfits, down to our regulation dark stockings and lace-up shoes. After assembling just outside the Palace, we pretended to arrest one of our friends (chosen for her fabulous legs), who was playing the promiscuous lady.
The duty police at the gates thought this very strange. They called out the parks police, who proceeded to arrest the lot of us—even our protection officer, who played along—for causing a scene outside Buckingham Palace. They ushered us through some barriers and into their police van, and this was the worst part, because the other women slid slimly between the barriers, but I got wedged at the hip.
Diana and I had no intention of resisting. We thought it hysterically funny. Wed turned our engagement rings wrong side around, and it had worked, they hadn't recognized us.
After the van drove off and we sat down like little convicts, Diana asked the driver what kind of crisps he had on board and would he share them, please? Soon she was chomping away at these smoky bacon-flavored crisps. By the time we reached the end of the Mall, our cover must have worn thin—we heard one of the policemen say, "Oh my heavens, it's the Princess of Wales in drag!"
We got the van to drop us off near Anabel's, the big nightclub in Berkeley Square. And the people at the door said, "Sorry, we don't allow policewomen in here, it is a place for everyone to enjoy themselves." We coaxed our way in and pushed on to the bar—where whom did we find on their working night out but some eagle-eyed executives with the Daily Mail. We stood there shoulder to shoulder with them—ordered a round of orange juice, drank it down—and still they didn't cotton on.
Going out, we stopped traffic in Berkeley Square—we were having a wild time now—and headed back to the Palace near two o'clock in the morning. Knowing that Andrew was due home from his own little revelry, we told the duty police to get out of the way—and then we closed the gates. As it turned out, Andrew had just phoned from his car in advance of his arrival. When he saw the shut gates, he properly took it as something was very wrong. He flicked on his car locks, rammed the Jaguar into reverse, and screeched out around the Wedding Cake. He thought he was being set up.
It was about then that I wondered if we had gone a bit too far.
The morning after found me at breakfast with Mrs. Runcie, the wife of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was to marry us. I could hardly see straight; I just barely made it through. (I do adore the Runcies; they've both been of such great support to me.)
Later I confessed our hen night to the Queen, and she thought it was reasonably amusing. We had got away with it clean—I'd been as naughty as I could be, and still I was adored by all. They were playing flush into my complex. I was wonderfully, extravagantly, madly brilliant. I could shoot a stag and hook a trout, and dance to Swan Lake in my wellies for good measure. I could do no wrong.
—Sarah Ferguson, The Duchess of York
The Bobby Sock Belles
We thought we were the cool crowd. Let's face it, we were. It was a Thursday night after our so-called sorority meeting of the Fidelity Sisterhood, where we met to pledge our undying love to God, country, each other, and never to wear white shoes after August. Our uniform: angora sweaters (chilly, since wed been taught to store them tissue-wrapped in the freezer), little scarves knotted at the neck, and suede loafers or saddle shoes with bobby socks. We felt like the chosen few, and quite literally were, since the all-powerful Big Sisters determined membership by voting you in or, God forbid, out. In addition to member selection, the Big Sisters were sworn to teach us ladies' etiquette and life's finer points, such as the distinction between summer and winter jewelry and that the best way to get a guy was to play hard to get and wear pearls.
After the meeting, as if to release energy, we cruised. Sarah Jo's pale yellow '58 Buick was packed with ponytails, pink sweaters, and wild anticipation. We sat six abreast in the back seat, with room to spare. As we rolled past the entrance of a Victorian building dl lit up, we knew by the stickers on the cars out front that we had come upon a gold mine. They were the convertibles of the U.S. naval cadets who were attending a dance. Quick assessment told us this was nirvana, because, after all, we were the chosen ones, and the girls inside were just girls. A battle plan was formed.
Since these were bona fide men of twenty-three and twenty-four, and not to be approached by the inexperienced, Peggy and I became self-appointed delegates to enter the dance and ask for help. Our credentials were impeccable—we had both dated midshipmen and flight instructors at the naval base, and we knew the difference between A-4s, T-28s, and T-33s (various aircraft, for the uninitiated). We elected two others to bend down over our car's dirty tires and let the air out. It worked! We scored big time with Paul Newman and Robert Redford look-alikes (recall the movie An Officer and a Gentleman, and you get the picture) who came out to rescue us ladies in distress.
I started seeing the Paul look-alike, and Peggy dated his friend, which made for great double-dating as we shared the secret of our caper between us, with the guys never suspecting. Two years later, I was invited to meet Paul's family, who lived in what looked for all the world like the plantation Tara, making me Scarlett O'Hara ... or so I thought. There I learned that shorts were not acceptable attire at certain times of day and that Southern mansion dwellers have buzzers in the floor to step on when the servant is to bring in the next course of salty ham. It was during one of those elegant dinners that my juvenile behavior blew up in my face as I regaled my audience with the details of how I met Paul, in the silent aftermath of my tale, I sat uncomfortably with the realization that they did not find our trickery amusing. My Scarlett aspirations were completely checked shortly thereafter, when he became engaged to the admiral's daughter.
—Rae Ruth Rhodes-Ecklund
Alegra aNd I
Alegra and I were freshman roommates at University of California, Santa Cruz, better known at that time as Uncle Charlie's Summer Camp. Studying was almost unheard of when there was coffee to drink, music to crank, and gossip to share. The two of us were as different as we were the same; she had grown up among the Northern California redwoods, and I had fled the thick air of Los Angeles as fast as I could when I found out places like Santa Cruz existed.
Like soul sisters, we filled our days with easy conversation and comfortable silences. Some people said we looked alike, an observation I took as a high compliment since Alegra was many things I only hoped to be, and beautiful was one of them.
Today, like any other Saturday afternoon, we had our books spread in front of us in our tiny shared room with a view of the trees, made misty and damp by the recent storms. Alegra sat with her back to her bed; I was curled up on my bed, reading the same sentence about "basic" genetics three or four times. Halfway down my seventh page (7 of the 157 I was supposed to finish), I sighed and dropped my head to the pillow. From the way Alegra was softly singing the words to "Sugar Magnolia," I could tell she wasn't absorbing much either. It had been raining for days, weeks, and we were halfway to stir-crazy.
I closed my book and watched Alegra. She caught me, laughed quietly, marked her page.
"All I want to do is go outside," she said mournfully.
"I know. I just can't concentrate."
"We should just go out into the field now, even though it's raining," she said, alluding to the large grassy field at the bottom of the hill where we lived. It was less than a quarter-mile away, but it felt like acres of land stood between us and our usual sun spot.
"Yeah, whatever, girl," I replied. "You go get soaked. What I don't need on top of everything is to be sick right now."
"You won't get sick. Let's go. Now. Let's run," I could tell she was serious. I started to consider it. I was reaching for my shoes when she said, "Naked."
"What?" I snorted. "You smoking something and not sharing again? Like, I'm going to strip down in front of all these maniacs and just Streak down to the field." This was not something you did in L.A.
"Well, then you stay here. I'll tell you how it was." She started untying her hiking boots. By the second sock, I was over my consternation. I mean, who was really around? And anyway, who would care? The truth was, clothing seemed optional around here anyway, with people sunbathing nude all over the place on hot days. Why not rain bathing?
We stepped outside onto our tiny porch, bare feet recoiling from the cold cement, towels wrapped around us, barely. Alegra touched my hand. "On the count of three, we run. If we run fast enough, no one will even know what went by. One, two, three...." We shot off the porch, heading down the familiar path, past our friends' doorways, past the offices, past the coffeehouse. No one was outside, and if anyone was watching us from the windows, we were moving too fast to know. The rain was pelting us, and our desperate attempts to keep the towels around at least our bottoms were quickly surrendered. At last, we felt the loamy forest floor under our feet, but we didn't stop running. It felt too good. Like we had leapt off the highest cliff and discovered we could fly.
I dropped my towel in a patch of high grass and ran alone until my legs gave out from under me. I found myself surrounded by bending field grass. I lay back, listening to my heart and breath, quick from the running and the daring. I could hear Alegra panting nearby. For one moment, everything made sense. We were pure, perfect. I stretched, and there was Alegra's hand, a spark of sisterhood's promise passing between our fingers.
We wrapped our drenched towels around us for the walk up the hill, not caring about how odd we must look. By the time we reached our door, we had come to a few silent conclusions: That our bodies were to be cherished, that some moments are meant to be seized, and that there is no feeling in the world like rain on an unashamed heart.
the 5 friends every chick needs
When we were mere chicks, we always had a best friend. There were other friends, of course, but the word best was reserved for that one special sister-friend, soulmate, forever buddy—no matter the situation, we only needed her. Like Miss America, there could only be one girl wearing that satin sash glittered with the words, Best Friend. While your childhood best buddy will always be the sister of your heart, geography, jobs, and life in general make that singular reliance on one another impossible. Part of growing up is expanding your heart and your circle of friends along with it. Like any good team, a girlfriend gang evolves because each woman brings a unique perspective or strength to the franchise. In that spirit, we think there are 5 chicks that every woman needs in her court. You can get by with fewer if they can multi-task.
the "I've Seen You with Braces and Bell-Bottoms" friend
This is the one that knows where you live. Not only literally, but that figurative place where it all began. You bonded over jumping rope, passing notes, and gushing over teen idols. She knows your family, how you crashed your first car into a pole the day after your sixteenth birthday, and she didn't laugh when you wore a 32 AAA bra. Your friendship is based on the deep roots that come from knowing each other through all the big and little events that propel us into adulthood. She understands where you are coming from and helps you get where you want to go,
the biological buddy
This is the friend that mirrors your family status. If you have children, so does she, and hopefully her kids are close enough in age to yours that you can bemoan the dilemmas of potty training or car seats together. You listen patiently to her stories about junior, nod in the right places and then it's your turn. You swoop in in a crunch to babysit or pick the kids up from school and vice versa. It's a beautiful thing. On the flipside, this friend may be the one among your group that, like you, doesn't have children. Together you celebrate your freewheeling status at fancy restaurants where you couldn't find a high chair to save your life. You go to museum openings, see movies with subtitles, and indulge in marathon shopping excursions. Don't call me before 9 AM? No worries about getting any guff, she too is still asleep.
your own personal Martha Stewart
She knows everything from how to get candle wax off your cat's ear to what color shoes to wear with a celadon silk suit. Need a recipe for champagne punch? She'll fax over five of them and would make the champagne if she needed to. Roof leaking? She's there with some shingles and tar that she happened to have in the workshop. She has every tool, every recipe, and every magazine article cross- referenced and indexed, and she's as resourceful as the FBI, CIA, and Interpol combined. She is irreplaceable,
She knows how much your salary is and was instrumental in getting it there by counseling you before your last big performance review. You share investment tips, career strategies, and the secrets of crafting the world's perfect resume. What to wear to that interview? She's the one you turn to. Powerhouse, confidante, and the Wall Street Journal in comfortable pumps—she's a source of professional inspiration and awfully fun to have drinks with after work, to boot.
You've always been curious about male strip clubs but never had the nerve to ask any of your usual friends to go to one. Bingo—wild woman is your ticket—she's probably done something crazy like work in one in the past. Nothing will shock her, and the word judgment (for better or worse) is not in her vocabulary. You can tell her anything. No matter how serious or benign, she takes it in stride on her way to the next ad venture. When you're with her, hang on tight and never use your real name.
a Little niGhT MischIef
This isn't only my story. It belongs to all 258 of us who, in the fall of 1955, arrived at Saint Mary's College, a small women's liberal arts school in Indiana, with pie-in-the-sky dreams and pockets full of good intentions. Settling into the freshman hall, we unpacked our quilted poodle skirts, arranged our mandatory dresser scarves, and, as suggested in our freshman handbook, decorated our rooms with something "green and growing."
In spite of rigid rules and stiff curfews, we generally managed to stay in the good graces of our dean for most of the year—until an epidemic of spring fever, complicated by a severe case of exam jitters, struck unexpectedly in late May. As dogwood blossoms enticed our collective noses from our books, Dante, Dickens, and diameters gave way to seductive visions of dunes and warm sand between our toes. While we watched with envy from behind dog-eared Western Civ notes, indulgently carefree seniors, finished with exams and newly graduated, cavorted around campus in flagrant disregard for our sorry lot.
It may have started with the food fight that erupted among several freshman tables back in a corner of the dining room—an unheard-of occurrence, rendered possible only by the departure of the seniors, whose job it was to instruct the younger students on table etiquette and the art of conversation. Our laughter, sucked in and squelched between fork-flicked mashed potatoes, had never felt so good. The exhilaration of that tiny, insignificant act of anarchy galvanized us as a class. As we giggled and guffawed our way back to our hall, the plot thickened.
There's no question the troops were restless and ready for a little harmless insurrection. There was no instigator or mastermind. It was mob rule, plain and simple. Before long, a plan was formulated. We would strike late, after our ever-vigilant dean had gone to bed.
Focused as we were on the mischief of the moment, exams were the furthest thing from our minds. Between fits of giggles, my three roommates and I put on our PJs, brushed our teeth, smeared our faces with Noxema, and hurried to bed as soon as it was "lights out." We heard the dean make rounds. Then all was silent. Daring to communicate only occasionally with faint whispers or hand movements, we lay in bed waiting. Then, around midnight, we heard it! The horrific crash of a transom, about two floors above us, followed by another and another and another—like a volley of cannon fire. The noise—magnified four times over by cavernous linoleum halls, vaulted ceilings, and broad wooden stairwells—echoed throughout the building, from its bowels to its towers, like the deep belches of thunder on a summer night.
Excerpted from It's a Chick Thing by Ame Mahler Beanland, Emily Miles Terry. Copyright © 2000 Ame Mah1er Beanland and Emily Miles Terry. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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