Adding new girlfriends to the mix is a hobby. Since I no longer have to rush home from work to cook for anyone or pick up socks, I can do pretty much whatever I please. On some days it seems I’ve been let out of the zoo for a free day. And I behave like a hyena. Other days, I watch others in their hyena state.
A couple of weeks ago I ventured with a new group; well new girls were in the mix. There was Goddess Trish, The River Rafter and Sweetest G, who slays me regularly with not only her unwavering kindness but also her quick laughter and ability to drink as many dirty martinis as me. She sat next to me. Goddess Trish has her high school buddies in for a long weekend. We’ve met briefly before in a “how-do-you-do” kind of way. This night Jackson Hole Carthy becomes my new pal. She had drunken girl love going on before I arrived and I was just swept into the undertow. Jackson Hole Carthy allows no choice.
We meet for drinks and dinner before Late Night Catechism, a Scottsdale staple on the city’s art scene. Originally on stage in Chicago, it morphed to Scottsdale many years ago and is a must for visitors both Catholic and not. It is funnier if you’re Catholic. Unlike many religions, we think all our genuflection, crossing, guilt and nuns habits are as funny as outsiders do. It’s because we’re allowed to drink. We’re in on the joke. All these girls went to Catholic school in Minnesota/North Dakota. Yes, that Minnesota/North Dakota; land of the Lutherans. Now you get the funny.
So what better than for a bunch of fifty-year-old women to get all liquored up and go listen to Sister talk about the Sacraments? We review over dinner what it means to grow up Catholic. The girls agree which sisters were kind and which were not and what was the name of that sister that taught piano and swatted errant fingers with a ruler? They all grew up near The Norwegian but did not know him. Of course not. Mother-In-Law never would have allowed a Catholic in the house. Pfft. Poor thing, a full half of her six progeny married out of the faith. Tsk-tsk. She’ll have some ‘splainin’ to do when she reaches Lutheran heaven won’t she?
So, these gals, released from their Minnesota/North Dakota confines, have let the wild out. I arrive at six and they are already well on their way. Jackson Hole Carthy, who ended up in Jackson Hole by way of an East Grand Forks upbringing, is at my right. Background: East Grand Forks is in Minnesota. Grand Forks is in North Dakota. To the outsider, they appear to be one city. Inhabitants don’t really see it that way. They battle for superiority but, really, given the weather and the accent, is this really a fair contest?
Back to Carthy. She informs that last night she had her first martini. I lift my dirty to her loss of virginity. We decide then we are besties and she asks about my ability to drink more than one. The girl has no idea the martini fog I can meander. Carthy describes to our waitress, Rachel, the salad she’s after. It’s not on the menu but the stuff is bound to be somewhere in that kitchen, right? Rachel is confused but they settle on nuts and tuna and lettuce and olives and no avocado. And this is when Carthy earns her new name. The girls ask Carthy to put her email into a phone so they can send a photo along to her. She types, with all her concentration, into The River Rafter’s phone c-a-r-t-h-y@email address. And then is flummoxed as to why the picture won’t download into her phone. The phone goes round the table to the ladies, imbibing since mid afternoon, and no one can figure. Finally, her mistake shows itself. She labeled herself Carthy, instead of Cathy. She is now Jackson Hole Carthy.
We sit in the theater awaiting Sister’s arrival, Jackson Hole Carthy in the row in front of ours. We do it on purpose so we can watch both her and the show. Good thinking.
Sister says, “Good Morning Class.” The audience sits. “I said Good Morning Class,” says Sister. She instructs the proper response is “Good Morning Sister.” And a theater of full-grown human beings experience what it’s like to be a Catholic child terrified of a giant woman in black with only eyes to chin peering out from a habit. We repeat in unison, “Good Morning Sister.” Thank goodness she’s not wearing a cornette ala The Flying Nun. Audience members, and small children, would pee their pants on the spot.
We begin with lessons on sacraments with various quizzes to see who amongst us remembers correctly the Catechism of childhood. She’s going to touch on two sacraments in depth tonight—marriage and last rites or blessing of the sick or anointing of the sick. What you call it depends only on how old you are. We notice Jackson Hole Carthy on the edge of her seat. She raises her hand with each question and answers aloud. For a rebel Catholic girl, she sure is enthralled non? When sister calls for an audience volunteer to keep score for a game, Carthy leaps with joy at being chosen. She runs down the aisle to meet Sister and Sister says, “Do you have gum?” We laugh. We know what’s next. “Spit the gum in the Kleenex and give me a dollar.” Carthy runs back to our seats to get a dollar and tries to spit her gum in Sister’s hand. “No, dear, take the Kleenex.”
Sister explains rules of the game and Carthy enthusiastically chats with her. Sister informs the audience that Jackson Hole Carthy may have had cocktails before the show and Carthy proudly displays two fingers. Sister advises her to move her chair further from the edge of the stage. Only Catholic girls will freely admit cocktail consumption to a nun. We don’t even try to hide it. It’s all those centuries of Catholic drinking behind us. The monks cooking up B&B in the abbey during the French Revolution started us off and we’ve been drinkers ever since. So entrenched are good Catholics that not only do we enjoy wine with our communion but will offer Sister a Guinness on arrival for Friday dinner, especially if she is of the Irish variety. Goes well with fish. And besides, right on the B&B bottle is DOM. On every bottle. Meaning: Deo Optimo Maximo—To God, most good, most great. We even offer up our liquor as thanks to the Holy One.
Jackson Hole Carthy is no exception. She can’t hold her liquor as well as some Catholics I know. Sweetest G and myself shake our heads that a girl could be so affected by two martinis. Must be the virginity.