Tuesday, August 4, 2009

All Aboard!

Say what you want about New York, but you have to love a city where you can take a four-hour party cruise featuring three levels of food, music, and dancing for only $10. And there was no sign of this unfriendly New Yorker stereotype when a group of girls and I boarded the Queen of Hearts to celebrate my friend Maria's bachelorette party this past Saturday night. In attendance: three of her future sister-in-laws, Rachel, Jessica, and Jen; her boss, Shelly (who is a total riot); Ericka, her best friend from high school; Yezi, Ericka's sister who has become a sister to all of us; and yours truly, the maid of honor.

But before we boarded, we met up in the parking garage and got the guest of honor all dolled up in her bachelorette best: a bride-to-be tiara, a bachelorette sash, some mardi-gras-type beads and "bachelorette gone wild" necklaces, a "Last Night Out" temporary tattoo, and a T-shirt requesting advice for the bride. The rest of us donned "Final Fling Before the Ring" cardboard tiaras, flirty tattoos, and beads, and we had party horns so we could announce our presence in the loudest and most obnoxious way possible. I had bought a cute little sparkly black dress just for the occassion, with equally sparkly heels. (Picture Dorothy's shoes in The Wizard of Oz, but in black.) We were ready to party!

My hope was we'd find lots of guys on the boat willing to take Maria for a spin on the dance floor or buy her drinks or kiss her on the cheek... But as we made our way to the ramp, we noticed a definite lack of men on line. In fact, everywhere we looked were other groups of women celebrating bachelorette parties or birthdays. Where were all the guys? Had the rain chased them away? Probably. But lucky for us, the rain had cleared up by the time the boat started boarding and it turned out to be a gorgeous night. (Your loss, fellas!)

Anyway, when you plan to dance the night away, the first thing you need is fuel. So we headed down to the lower deck and filled up on rice, chicken, salad, empanadas, and pasta. (Again, only $10. I love New York!) We toasted to the start of Maria's last night out as a single girl and wished her a long and happy marriage. (SIDE NOTE: I have known Maria since high school, which still seems like it was just last week instead of...well, a long time ago. So I still find it really weird that my friends are now getting married and having babies and buying homes. I suppose that means it's time for me to stop watching cartoons and eating Cookie Crisp cereal, huh? Naaah...)

Once the DJ turned up the music, we hit the dance floor. They played a little rap, a little hip-hop, some reggae and R&B. And while we danced, we encouraged complete strangers to sign Maria's T-shirt with marriage advice. Within an hour the whole back of her shirt was covered, mostly with solid advice like "Never go to bed angry" and "Talk things out together." And then there was "DON'T DO IT!" in big block letters, and "Big mistake!" All in good fun, of course.

After a while we drifted up to the top level of the boat, where they were playing merengue, salsa, and club music. The roof of the boat had been decorated with pink twinkling lights and the windows were open, providing a welcome breeze. Again, there weren't too many guys onboard, so we danced with one another, took pictures, and tried not to fall out of our heels as the boat zoomed down the lower tip of Manhattan. We did get one guy to try to dance with the bride-to-be. He was, unfortunately, about three inches shorter than her and had two left feet, but at least he tried. And there was another guy who agreed to give Maria a five-second lap dance that was pretty funny.

Later as we started to run out of energy (Okay, fine...as I started to run out of energy--my feet were killing me by then!) we sat by the open window, looking out at the water as we passed under the bridge, and took in the Manhattan skyline and Lady Liberty all lit up in soft white light. Some fellow partygoers agreed to take group shots of us, and I took a few of just Maria by herself. I was once again struck by how happy I am for my friend, who used to be a painfully shy teenager and is now this amazing woman, about to get married to a really good guy.

Finally the boat docked at midnight and we gathered our things to leave. While we headed downstairs, people who didn't even know Maria came up to congratulate her and wish her well. She thanked them, looking tired, but happy. The rest of us joked about what a blast we'd had...and how we were paying for it already with aching knees and throbbing feet. Jessica offered to give me a piggy-back ride to my car, which I totally would have taken her up on if I'd had the strength to jump at all. We all hugged one another, said our good-byes, and headed off in different directions.

As I drove home alone, I had to smile. All in all, it had been a really fun night and the bachelorette party had been a success. But of course, seeing another one of my friends off into marital bliss made me wonder if it would ever be my turn. And just as I had that thought while waiting at a red light, a tourist (who seemed to be about 15) in the taxi next to me told me he loved me. Awww... There's hope for me yet!

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