If you are a woman of a certain age, there will come a time when you can no longer avoid it. Initially, it will be on the periphery of your life, something you can ignore, laugh off, pretend that you'll never participate in, thank you very much. But you will eventually succumb to it, despite your desperate attempts to outrun it.
I am talking about The Passion Party.
The Passion Party is a gathering of ladies who are long past the "love-will-conquer-all" phase of life, who know that decent health insurance, a dependable babysitter, and premium ice cream are wildly better aphrodisiacs than all the candles, oysters, and promises in the world. At said gathering, these ladies attempt to improve life's more intimate experiences with plumeria-scented, battery-operated retail therapy.
Last night, my efforts to evade the many invitations to such events came to an end when one of my dearest friends managed to ply me with promises of free food and booze (which, come to think of it, is exactly how I came to be married for a third time).
Trust me when I tell you there is no surer marker that you've reached middle age than sitting in a tastefully decorated suburban home holding a rhinestone-encrusted vibrating purple phallus to your nose. It is at such moments the vast differences between men and women become hysterically apparent to me.
Should a man ever acknowledge that, in fact, he has a buddy whose personal life is less than satisfactory, the answer would be to buy some flowers. Maybe take her to dinner. The solution is similar for women, only the flowers are hands-free, made of silicone and require a Costco-sized box of AA batteries to, uh...keep blooming. Females are nothing if not practical.
Because I'd like to remain married, I'll attempt to describe my own situation as euphemistically as possible: Since entering my 40s, certain aspects of my life have become like the movie Wayne's World ("Party time! Excellent!"). My husband, while always a star pitcher, has a drive more like that in the movie Bull Durham ("Just happy to be here, hope I can help the ball club.") It's actually a good match, because modern-day life requires that we at least occasionally show up for work and maintain some form of communication with the outside world.
But I also know that for many women, the pressures of career, family, and keeping up with the Kardashians deplete the energy they have for romance; for that reason, these types of parties are a pubic public service. The fact that they combine free food, booze and rhinestones is just vanilla-flavored lubricant for the cake.
Michele Coppola is a Portland-based writer and former radio personality whose most recent work has been published in the literary journals So To Speak and Alchemy. Find her blog at www.coppolawords.com