Since 2007, Book Club has been the axis around which my social world has spun.
The idea was conceived when I met Catalano. She and I were bridesmaids in Mrs. Spaz's wedding, and met shortly after I'd moved to the city from Florida. I knew very few people outside of a couple of college friends. Catalano had moved back to Maryland from Los Angeles a few months prior and was still single at the time. Shortly after I met her, she began dating her now-fiance.
I'd had a small book club in Tampa that met every few weeks for wine and gelato at an Italian cafe near my house. Catalano was keen on the idea to start our own book club in Baltimore, and volunteered a couple of her college friends and roommates. We started out as a core group of about seven girls. Five of those girls are still active book club members, nearly four years later.
Book Club began as a Tuesday-night affair, every two weeks. But, as the wine and gossip began to flow more heavily, Tuesday nights spilled into Thursday nights, Friday nights, Saturday nights. A couple of girls dropped out and, seeking new members, we placed a cheeky ad on Craigslist. Jaunt, who had recently moved to Baltimore from Pennsylvania, found said ad. She agreed to meet us, and we came up with an exit strategy should she turn out to be creepy. After all, who the hell answers an ad for a boozy Book Club on Craigslist? We were certain Jaunt would turn out to be a strapping bachelor in his mid-5o's with a delightful comb-over and a pocketful of double-entendres and invitations to his "beach house."
"If s/he's creepy," we agreed, "Book Club ends in thirty minutes, we all ditch him/her, and join up at the bar down the street."
Instead, we got Jaunt. Who is now, happily, my new roommate.
We picked up other girls as well. Some stalked Book Club through my blog, some came on as referrals from other members, and some (like Joel) simply happened to see a bunch of girls being loud and obnoxious on a Tuesday night in a wine bar and arguing over modern feminism and decided he must be a part of the action. (Joel is still the brave, sole male in Book Club. Whenever we go out to dinner, it's Joel and eight girls. I think he's quite proud of this fact.)
As Book Club became less "club" and more "urban family unit," we tossed around the idea of going on vacation, unofficially as a group. We've done weekends in Ocean City, but a few years back someone dropped the idea of Vegas and it's sort of floated around in our miasma for awhile.
And then Catalano got engaged.
Two words: Bachelorette. Party.
Hence, Book Club Goes to Vegas. While not an officially sanctioned vacation, and sadly not everyone was able to go, it's still the culmination of years of friendship here in Baltimore. I've done just about everything with these girls; from running errands to meeting past and current boyfriend(s), or Friday night dance parties at the gay club to weekends at the beach. Moving to the city was a lonely, difficult, startling experience. Finding this group of friends changed everything for me and, I think, for most of them as well.
In preparation for Vegas, emails have been flying. And, as is only appropriate, a list of Rules is being drafted bit by bit. So far, the following have been established:
1. I am not to let Mrs. Spaz out of my sight, as per Mr. Spaz's orders. This is the blind leading the blind as Mrs. Spaz and I have been known to rile one another up into tailspins of terrible behavior.
2. Catalano and I are not to let Legs fall down or lose her purse. This will be a full time job.
3. No hookers. Dead or alive. (I argued mightily against this one. How fun would it be to pool our cash, hire a hooker, have her come to our room and tell us her life story and/or secrets of the Vegas underground while we drink champagne and compliment her on her Lucite heels? I was overruled. Lame.)
4. No tigers. Dead or alive.
5. If your fellow teammate is passed out, apply sun screen for her. She'll thank you later.
Other rules to be drafted, voted upon, and established upon arrival.
I can't wait.