What’s in a name?

I wasn’t dreading the bachelorette party. It’s just… drinking isn’t really my thing, and I didn’t know the majority of the other ladies, despite the fact that I’m in the wedding, and I’m really only in the wedding because I’m one-fourth of The Dinner Club, and two of the other Dinner Club members weren’t going to be there, and… I just don’t know. I love the bride-to-be. She’s sweet and fun and eternally charming, but she’s also part of a larger group of friends whose massive social circle often resembles Game of Thrones, where the relationships are deep and complex and almost impossible to comprehend at first glance.

I realized I didn’t belong when I forgot the name of the Bride’s aunt during dinner. “Aunt B,” she told me when I asked, and I—a woman who has defecated myself, twice, as an adult, and can relate that anecdote now, with zero shame—felt mortified that I thought she was Aunt J. That’s how out of the circle I am.

But the night was fine. It was better than that, actually. It was fantastic.

The Bride was like a beautiful, brunette Malibu Barbie. She danced and drank and relished in her much-deserved weekend of celebration. Her maid of honor, four months pregnant, showed me that some women are just destined to be great mothers, and that the life growing inside her has been blessed by this great universe to belong to someone so kind and selfless.

I ran into a dear friend from the short-lived “party days” of my 20s. Her presence reminded me of the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies from Insomnia. The first time I bit into one at the store’s Center City Philadelphia location, I asked the lady at the counter if the exotic flavor in my mouth was coconut. She nodded, and I gleefully devoured the remaining bites. “Oh Mr. Coconut,” I exclaimed with joy. “You’re like finding an unexpected friend at a party! Such a delightful surprise.” That’s how I felt about my long-lost bar friend, who I hadn’t seen since our wild Thursday nights in 2008. Ms. Coconut didn’t drink much either, but she danced and partied, and somewhere around 1am, she drove three hours home to spend some precious Time with her seven-month-old daughter before heading to work the following morning.

All of the girls were fabulous, and I felt silly for my earlier anxiety. It turned into a great night. Especially after I smoked up.

I wasn’t sure if I would, but then we got to Fager’s Island—an Ocean City, Maryland club known for its bachelorette party scavenger hunts, where I snuck in my herb like a Green Angel—and I found myself separated from the group and accepting a free Jack-and-Diet from an older gent with kind eyes and a handsome smile. St. Patrick was probably somewhere in his mid-50s, and he joined me outside to smoke a cigarette as I puffed from my pot o’ green.

“You probably have good weed,” he said, and I thought of telling him that it’s about as good as the stuff I smoked in Colorado, but instead I smiled and offered him a drag. He demurred. “I actually had some a little earlier, so I’m good. But I like how you’re out here with your one-hitter.”

St. Patrick told me he was here on a business trip from Northern California, and I thought about the failed $5 Facebook advertisement I just paid to increase site traction and social media awareness in his region. I told him that if he was interested in knowing a more about me, he should check out my blog. “Oh, I’ll never remember it,” he said.

“High Mom dot com,” I said again. “High, with an I-G-H. How can you forget it?”

“So what’s the 30-second pitch,” he asked.

“Well, I’m a writer and a stoner and a mother and a wife, and I kinda just write about all of the things I notice in any one of those roles.”

I asked him to tell his friends, and he said he’d check out the blog, and share it if it seemed worthy of sharing, which only seemed fair to me. I stand by the quality of my product.

“So what then, you’re like a hippie liberal in a Red state?” he asked.

I thought about the Ronald Regan statue I saw in the restaurant where I couldn’t remember Aunt B’s name. My hometown certainly wasn’t that Red. “It’s not all that Red where I live,” I answered, “but I’m definitely liberal, I guess I’m a hippie, though I never thought of myself as such, and I love Hillary. I obviously voted for her, and think we’re pretty much doomed with the looney in the White House.”

I can’t remember what St. Patrick said after that, but it was something to imply he didn’t share my opinions. “Wait, did you vote for Trump?” I asked.

“How could I not?”

“How could you not?!” I had a million reasons. “For starters, he’s a petulant piece of shit.”

St. Patrick seemed to like that. “Wow, a petulant piece of shit,” he repeated, laughing.

“Yes,” I said. “What are you, another Hillary hater?”

“No. But she would have done nothing to change the country, and we needed change.”

I thought about his comment as headlights in the distance crossed the Ocean City Expressway.

“Maybe,” I replied. Maybe America got exactly what it deserved, for better or worse.

I was on my high horse by then, and as I pontificated on my soap box and he bantered back, I  remembered a line my family friend Sarge once said to me, right before the election. We were drunk at a wedding, talking about our shared love of weed, and I told him to check out my blog. “Oh, but there’s a gay sex scene and a pro-Hillary piece, so you might not like it,” to which he said, “How boring would the world be if we all thought alike?” I loved him for those words.

“You know what,” I finally said to St. Patrick. “How boring would the world be if we all thought alike?”

He agreed, and we danced briefly, and I told him I would blog about him. Ms. Coconut saw us grooving and quickly pulled me away. She and I then took a dozen selfies as I finished my second Jack-and-diet, and then a SoCo-lime shot, and then switched to water, which I continued to pound for the rest of the night.

On the way to the bathroom, I bumped into the girl whom I would be bunking with when we got back to the palatial beach house. I’m not even sure how we got on the topic, but in 10 seconds of talking, I told her all about my witch theory, about how I think it’s connected to turning 33, and she told me how, at age 33, she wakes up every morning at 3am and wonders what it could all mean. “You’re a fucking witch,” I said.

“”I’m proof of your theory,” she nodded, as her face and hair shimmered beneath the dance lights.

“My mind is blowing up right now,” I said, as we hugged and promised to cuddle later.

I walked to the bathroom and met another friend from the party, a fellow bridesmaid I know and adore, even though she parties much harder and longer than I ever have or could. She was somewhat smashed, and I was somewhat stoned, and right behind us were another pair of friends–one drunker than the other–and we decided that bathrooms were made for this Yin-Yang of the Girlfriend Coven. Right as I made that observation, an older, blonde woman walked out of the stalls and found her two girlfriends.

“Ooh! The girlfriend trio!” I exclaimed, and in the span of five seconds, I somehow told her both my witch theory and blog name, and she said, “High Mom? I’m a high mom, too!” I instantly loved her and asked if I could blog about her, and if she had a preferred pseudonym.

“I don’t believe in fake names. Use the real one,” she said as she gave me hers.

“With an O or an A-U-R-I-E?” I asked.

“O,” she said. “L-O-R-I.”

I thought of the other Lori in my life. Definitely a witch. With two teen/tween daughters and an ex-alcoholic ex-husband who was our first family friend when my dad came to America in 1988, back when we had nothing and no one, and how much of an anchor he was to my childhood, how much he means to me, even now, when I think of him, and how much happiness I wish his family. How I believe sometimes the universe puts people together for the right reasons, from spouses once hopelessly in love to strangers pulled almost cosmically together in a bar.

I thought of this in the stall. I thought, too, of the sage philosophy professor I had met just days before. The interview was tough–he didn’t seem to want to do the work of a lazy journalist in search of easy answers to ancient questions–so I switched gears throughout our chat, going back and forth between the things I wanted to ask and the easier topics I thought of during the lulls in our conversation (What movies do you like to watch? Would you consider yourself an introvert?). He said he’s comfortable speaking before a class or giving presentations, but that he needs to recharge, that more people should learn to take time for themselves, without the mobile devices that connect them to a wider world. Solitude is a very healthy thing, he told me.

I thought of that as someone tried to open my bathroom stall, and I imagined they must have imagined me taking a very long and gruesome shit when really, I was just high and taking a much-needed bathroom meditation break. I walked out and washed my hands, but spent much of the night returning to the stalls.

I ran into another woman a few times, an athletic blonde who shared my pee cycle and complemented my commitment to my Fitbit. She told me the devices weren’t fully accurate but that they nonetheless provided a good overall gauge, and then she suggested I worry less about my numbers and more my food. “Health is 85 percent diet,” she called to me from a faraway stall.

I thanked her for the advice, and thought about the six pounds I’ve gained in recent weeks. About how my step counts are higher than ever, but so, too, is my resting heart rate–something that hovered in the mid-50s a few months back, but now ranges in the 60s and 70s whenever I seem to check it. “Perhaps it’s the physiological effects of turning into a witch,” I recently told a girlfriend. “Or maybe just the result of eating multiple cans of Pringles in a single sitting. Hard to tell.”

I returned to the bathroom all night, comforted by the solitude of my own head. Each time I returned, I saw an older black lady cleaning the stalls. A few people tipped her, but most walked by. I gave her the only dollar I could find and asked her for her name.

“Keisha,” she told me, and kept cleaning.

I believe my witch powers are less supernatural and more the result of good work and karma. It’s the reason I always want to read “Cooking up a plan” from the girls’ Princess Adventure book at bedtime. In the story, Tiana uses her prowess in the kitchen to land a much-needed job, crediting her mom for calling her beignets “magic on a plate,” and thus giving her the idea for her master idea. But as her mom responds, “There was no magic to it. What got you that job was hard work and determination.” (It’s a nice book for little girls, some stories and messages better than others, so it’s worth picking up, although it also features a highly erotic scene involving Ariel and a clam, so there’s also that… But I digress.) My point is, I hope I can use my witch powers–ie: traffic to my blog, some sort of presence on the Internet–to raise awareness for the unsung hero of Fager’s. Keisha keeps the women’s bathroom clean on Saturday nights so we can dance and drink and party and pee, and contribute more drunken dollars to stimulate the economy. She deserves a pay raise and a prominent tip jar. Even more than Tony from the holiday Christmas party. (Gah, I hate that I removed my holiday party story from the blog).

I thought of Keisha, and Tony, and all the hard-working people of color who are often ignored despite their proclivity for kicking major fucking ass. I thought, too, about the philosophy professor, how he explained a tenet of Kabbala to me, something to do with learning names. I thought of the Malazan Book of the Fallen that Mr. D has been begging me to read for years now. I’m only one-tenth of the way there, but I thought of the scene from the first chapter. “There are names, and then there are names,” the assassin tells the girl before possessing her body.

Patrick. Lori. Keisha. This is one of the first times I have used real names in my blog, and I do so now with (mostly) permission. Thank you, all, for being part of my weekend. I hope yours was just as wonderful.

And to the bride-to-be, thank you, thank you, thank you for including me in the festivities around such a monumental moment in your life. You have a million friends, and I sometimes don’t fully feel like I belong, but that’s because I’m too much in my own brain. Your heart is so strong and welcoming and kind, and I’m honored beyond words to be part of your special day. I have no doubt you’re in for the most magical ride yet. And the fact that you’ll still be 33 on your wedding is the proverbial icing on the cake I can’t wait eat on April 8. Counting down the days til then!

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