Last night I met up with some ladies for drinks and weary of confronting what ails the world—the crisis in Syria, the monster in Cleveland, the Mother’s Day shooting in New Orleans—we opted instead for sharing some essentials within our reach.
First came a primer on bikini waxes. One of our cohort had recently visited the aesthetician she regularly sees, and so she reasonably assumed that the practitioner had examined her file before setting to work on her undergrowth. But when my friend looked down, she saw nothing left. “I didn’t even know what a Brazilian was!” she lamented last night in the retelling.
“Now you do,” I said.
“They’re awful,” another friend said, adding that when she got a Brazilian before her wedding, the woman left just a tiny box of hair. Aside from being unsightly and strange, it had the added misfortune of resembling a certain dictator’s mustache.
“Forget waterboarding,” I said. I suggested that if C.I.A. operatives used waxing as an enhanced interrogation technique, they might be astounded by the results—which met with general agreement.
Then a friend, an expert bargain hunter, described how she’d recently acquired a new dishwasher at just $24 over cost, by amassing coupons and visiting a warehouse store on a sale day. But since the new machine was too big for the slot under her counter, it was residing in her basement. “It was so cheap, I can’t bring myself to return it,” she said. “And maybe, one day, we’ll redo our kitchen.”
We hoped she would. And then the conversation took a slightly more sober turn, when a friend explained how a new plague was visiting our neighborhood, a pestilence involving microbes possibly growing in the water. Our friend who is in the medical field and is researching this phenomenon said the results are not yet conclusive but that the condition, which attacks postmenopausal, well-educated women in our area, presents itself with a persistent cough. “The kind of cough that’s embarrassing and you have to leave the room,” she said. A few of us immediately diagnosed our children’s preschool teacher. And I started to worry that I, too, might be infected, despite the fact that I don’t yet match all the criteria.
When the discussion shifted to summer and trying to keep track of our kids at the crowded township pool, another friend, who also has three young children, offered what I felt was a highly useful tip. “I try to befriend people who only have one kid,” she said. She’s found that these parents, sometimes desperate for playdates, are often willing to help babysit her brood.
“But then they end up having another kid,” I said.
“I look for the older mothers, the ones who are one and done,” she said.
I picked up another helpful tidbit when another friend bewailed the fact that her dishwasher had been leaving a milky residue on her glasses. “I thought it was just my dishwasher!” I cried, relieved. The friend said several plumbers had recommended that she turn up her water heater but that she was reluctant to for fear of scalding her children. The bargain hunter suggested we toss a cup-and-a-half of white vinegar into the works and run it through a cycle to take care of the problem.
So this morning I emptied the contents of an old vinegar jar I found on a shelf into my dishwasher and switched it on. Then I emailed my friend to say that I’d be calling her if I came home to a sour soup on my floor. And while I relaxed for a moment, watching my kids play and listening to the swish of the water, I mused that, although my friends and I may not be solving the world’s problems, we’re pretty adept at helping each other out—and at making each other laugh.