After all, there is so much more to escape when you are an adult.
Two nights ago, I found myself at an Oscars party on the Upper West Side. Minutes after the arrival of a giant hero sandwich stuffed with (kosher) cold cuts, the host pulled me aside.
“You seem of the generation that would be cool if I asked you something,” he said in subdued -- if ungrammatical -- tones.
“Yeah?” I was suspicious and curious all at once. Every babe in the big city knows to be on guard for pervy questions at parties.
“I have some pot-laced cookies. Would you like one?”
I must issue the following disclaimer: I am against the use of illegal substances. I have told Big Babe and Middle Babe (Little Babe is too innocent to even contemplate doing drugs…or even talking back to his teachers) that I would be most unsympathetic if they were ever busted for possession of drugs.
But being offered a marijuana snack on the Upper West Side was an irresistible offer.
“Sure!” I agreed, looking towards the couch where HOBB (Husband of Bungalow Babe) was cramped uncomfortably, watching the early, irrelevant Oscar nominations and winners. The confection would not be up his alley.
“Have you eaten anything?” my host suddenly asked.
“Uh, yeah…apple slices and peanut butter before I came here,” I offered. He looked relieved.
“I meant, you didn’t have any of the meat sub, right?” he explained, “because the cookies are milchig. They're made with butter.”
I laughed. Where else in the world – outside of the Anglo-populated neighborhoods of South Jerusalem – would anyone be simultaneously concerned about his guests getting high and inadvertantly mixing milk and meat?
My host handed me a baggie filled with biscotti-shaped blondies.
“How much?” I inquired.
“I ate two before the party and I’m totally wasted,” he said, looking totally wasted. “It’ll take about an hour to kick in.”
I didn’t want to stagger home to Little Babe through the snow in a state of utter intoxication. “I’ll have one,” I said.
The blondie tasted surprisingly hearty, made evidently with whole grains, real creamery butter and actual pot. I was envious of the baker: I personally had no idea how to bake such treats, or to bake in general. Finishing the snack, I wove through the crowd, found HOBB and squeezed in next to him on the couch.
“I just ate a pot-laced cookie,” I told him. “In case I start to act weird or anything.”
HOBB looked at me like I was a teenager who had just broken curfew...again.
“Do you want one?” I asked, uselessly.
The party wore on. The Oscars unfolded. Ellen changed her outfit three times. The winners staggered to the stage, grateful, astounded, triumphant. The montages were cool…especially the one of the foreign films. Everytime the camera landed on Jack Nicholson, I suppressed the urge to leap through the television set and smash him on his billiard ball head with a golf club. Our host devised a plan whereby he would lower the TV volume and play Zydeco music during the commercials, which was clever, if a bit annoying.
This was the second party he had come to in search of his parents. We had left the first one, hours ago, it turned out, but he didn’t know that. He had left several messages on my Blackberry but I hadn't checked it for hours. He looked chilled and annoyed from shlepping through the snow.
Suddenly, the dope took effect.
Here’s the thing about being a parent: you have to maintain a semblance of responsible adulthood at all times. Even if your kid is 22. Even if they have probably done harder drugs than you. Even if you are at a party.
“Hey, your mom’s cool!” one cute girl told Big Babe, as we stood near the food table. She had just come over to talk to us and perhaps pick up Big Babe. I don't know what I said, or if I even said anything at all but she thought I was cool. Maybe it was the red velvet jacket I wore or my long strand of black beads from Paris or my four-inch high Isaac Mizrahi boots or my H&M black dress. Whatever. It was cool to be cool.
“Hey, your mom’s a real party animal,” said the host.
Big Babe left with an inscrutable look on his face.
Fast forward to later in the evening, after I arrived home to catch the final awards. HOBB was sitting on the couch, annoyed (it turns out) that I had not left the party with him. Little Babe was snuggled next to him, upset to have awakened and find his mother still not home. He had been wrested out of sleep, he reported, by the theme song to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, which played during the Lifetime Achievement Award segment for composer Ennio Morricone.
(Little Babe had recently discovered this theme and had been humming if for the entirety of the previous week – one night, when I asked him to cease and desist, he claimed he was unable to get it out of his head! -- and then, on another night we had both burst out laughing when our cabbie’s cellphone rang with that very melody.)
Imagining Little Babe lying in bed, lured to the living room by that iconic cowboy movie theme, I laughed. It was funny, after all, that Little Babe was being stalked by the theme to The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.
Then I noticed Big Babe, sitting on the other side of his dad and little brother, looking at me with disgust.
As best as I can remember, my behavior at the party earlier that evening was unremarkable. I didn’t dance on the tabletop, say anything off-color, behave in an undignified manner. Nor was I completely wasted, just loosened to the point where everything in the world seemed funny to me.
And I had returned, after all, to the bosom of my family. It was not even midnight. Soon I would be walking through our overheated apartment decked out in a t-shirt and shorts. Because he was still awake, I would shortly tuck Little Babe into bed. The next morning, I would be hauling his little butt out of bed to get him ready for school. And after the bus left, my work day would kick into motion.
It sure was great to escape the deadlines, demanding clients, difficult decisions, family responsibilities and general sense that the world sucks at the Oscars party. It was great to not think about our financial woes, upcoming meetings and programs and the terrifying To-Do list that crowns every day of my work life.
One little pot-laced cookie at an Upper West Side Oscars party. It was a milder high than two glasses of red wine. It was soothing and fun. It was unexpected.
It was great and all, yet a mom is a mom is a mom, even if she is a Bungalow Babe.
And the message I got loud and clear was that there is a motherly code of behavior that precludes the ingestion of certain substances when the kids – even if they are the same age that you were when you got married to their father – are present.