85: Wild Women Wielding Pens

85: Wild Women Wielding Pens

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

Wild Women Wielding Pens

The reluctance to put away childish things may be a requirement of genius.

~Rebecca Pepper Sinkler

We haven’t been BFFs since kindergarten, and the only thing we had in common when we met was a desire to write and publish our work. Our girlhoods are thirty to fifty years in our pasts, but the five of us will always be girls at heart. We don’t wear hats or a particular color when we are together; we don’t need a uniform to confirm our affiliation. We have collectively mopped our foreheads and mouths as we’ve sweated out an essay, dealt with an ex-husband, had a hot flash, shared personal details, or devoured delectable cuisine.

When the five of us gathered for our initial meeting at a bookstore, we presented ourselves as friendly freelance writers with hopes of striking it rich. We did just that! We hit the mother lode when we banded together for biweekly Wednesday evening meetings. Not only have we made a little spending money on our individual publications, but we’ve discovered a gold mine of greatness and a chunk of hilarity worth a million bucks. Each week one of us discovers a nugget to add to our coffers.

Sioux, the rebel, admitted she was born Susan. Her sharp tongue matched her wit and we soon discovered that she could reduce us to gasping laughter with her observations and perceptions.

Tammy, soft-spoken, wrote powerful prose. Her professionalism and editing ability resulted in a nickname: “Grammar Girl.”

Lynn, quiet and shy, graciously opened her home to us after our third meeting at the bookstore. The patrons who distracted us at our first meeting didn’t compare to the incredible characters Lynn created in her stories.

Beth, the youngest of our group, resembled long-legged actress, Julia Roberts. She flipped her long hair in a similar fashion. She had more action in her life than Julia’s stunt double, and she cracked us up with her true confessions.

I, a seasoned teacher, writer, wife and grandma, have seen it all and may have done it all. I am willing to share it all with “my girls,” a unified group of gals with a serious side of sass.

When we first met, some of us wrapped our necks in scarves, hid our feet in socks and Crocs, kept our posture perfect and acted prim and proper. We didn’t reveal too much skin or personal details. After a few months we were not only fleshing out phrases, we were baring our arms and souls, exposing crooked toes and teeth, slouching in a living room and letting it all hang out. Toes that is. We love our flip-flops, and although we are old enough to know that the original name for these freeing shoes is “thongs,” we’re wise enough never to refer to them as such. We gab, guffaw, and snort about escapades. We eat, drink, brag, and complain. Our meetings are as rejuvenating as expensive face cream, a chunk of dark chocolate, or a vacation from reality.

It was only natural that one of us, the wildest of course, would suggest a girls’ weekend at the lake. We packed our bags and piled into the car, promising not to look at anyone’s swimsuited flab. Beth opened the door to her father’s breathtaking lake house and welcomed us in. She didn’t know that our bags were packed with birthday gifts for her. As she set about preparing a buffet of food, we laid out a table for her in the living room.

As she unwrapped an abundance of chocolate and gag gifts, she started giggling, her laughter slowly escalating. She startled us when she jumped up from the couch and darted to the bookcase.

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh!” She squealed as she grabbed for what appeared to be a decorative air freshener globe. “ARGGGH! I can’t believe this. I’m dead! This is my dad’s live feed motion detector camera.”

Beth turned the device around. I was all for burying it. We laughed ourselves into near convulsions. Then we selected individual bathrooms and bedrooms to undress in and put on our swimwear.

“Don’t peek,” someone said.

Peek? I was afraid there was a nanny cam in each room! It was bad enough my friends would see my cellulite. I didn’t want Beth’s dad to get a glimpse. I flipped off the light, and in the dark I got my foot hung up in the Spandex and nearly knocked my head into the wall.

We wrapped ourselves in towels and followed Beth down a long staircase built into the hillside that led to the lake. There is something freeing about floating, being in over your head and knowing you have someone to rely on, to buoy you. We relaxed, unwound, and left all of our cares behind. We dangled our legs, treaded water, and divulged details of our lives.

We returned to the daily grind renewed and refreshed. That one weekend had a longer-lasting effect. When we Wild Women Wielding Pens gather together, we feel exactly the same way we did when we were at the lake. For three hours, twice a month, we are adrift, our worries lifted, our lungs expanded from hearty laughter. We indulge in food for our bodies, intellectual stimulation for our minds, and inspiration for our souls. We cross our “T’s” and dot our “I’s”, but we don’t have to mind our “P’s” and “Q’s” and act our ages. When we’re together, we’re just us girls.

~Linda O’Connell

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