You know, I have never been that fond of the run up to Christmas, and this is partly because the only party I ever got invited to was a work do, and there is such an overwhelming emphasis on getting obscenely drunk that it just turns my stomach; this drinking style may suit some of you readers, and that is fine (though I fear for the condition of your liver and skin if such indulgence is on a regular basis), but it is not for me, I have always had a low threshold for being intoxicated by alcohol and so any heavy sessions are just beyond me; I also have a quiet voice, and so I get drowned out conversationally the more drunk people get. In fact, as I write, my office party is occurring tonight, and a guy sitting behind me this afternoon was talking to someone else and said “I intend getting seriously drunk tonight”. WHY?
Anyway, enough ranting, the purpose of the above paragraph is to highlight the difference this year… because, for the first time in decades, I was invited to a non-work Christmas-orientated event, by my two female walking buddies Margaret and Deirdre – it was a meal at a restaurant called Prezzo in the Victoria Square shopping/entertainment centre of Belfast. The meal was at the start of this week, on Monday… and it was absolutely FAB!!! I arrived surprisingly earlier than the scheduled time of 8.30 although, as I approached the restaurant and was about to call Deirdre on my mobile, it became apparent that they were already inside at our table, and so I went in. I was wearing a gold and black top (see right for selfie at the end of the evening once home), smart black embroidered trousers, and black heels with a red winter military-style coat. We said warm hellos, and then I took my coat off and sat down; Margaret said to me “I knew that you would look lovely Andrea, and you do”. Aw, what a nice thing to say. I complimented Margaret on her black velvet outfit in return, it was very smart. Altogether, we were together for almost three hours, and the whole evening was great – I didn’t feel at all nervous, their company was lovely, and we just chatted like good friends with subject matter covering a plethora of topics, from our walking group and its various personalities, places to visit, clothes, wine, family, and so on… as well as a bit of man-bitching too for good measure. The food was pretty good, I had a fried ravioli starter followed by a lobster and king prawn risotto (which tasted much better than it looked), finished off by an amaretto flavoured bread and butter pudding. One amusing part of the evening was the amount of things being spilled, dropped, or smashed – it was almost as if we were in the haunted corner, and it provided some amusement! Margaret spilled her sparkling wine (not once but twice), cutlery was dropped, the bar worker smashed some glasses, and so on. But it was a great night, and at 11.00 it started to draw to an end when we got kicked out of the closing restaurant. We took the escalator down two or three floors and then came to a point where out directions would differ, so we stood around and chatted for 10-15 minutes about Christmas arrangements, including a walking event! Margaret referred to me as a woman in one of her comments which was great, she said “I couldn’t believe this mad woman Andrea getting up so early to get to these weekend walks”. Eventually, after continued merriment, we had to part, with hugs all round, and Margaret called me “dear” as we said goodbye.
By the time I got home, some 45 minutes later, I had already received an email from Deirdre saying what a lovely evening it had been and we must do it again in the new year… and within 12 hours I had a similar email from Margaret. Of course, I was quick to email them both back to say that I would love to do it all again. Oh what fun, and what acceptance – I think Margaret knows I am TS, but I have no idea about Deirdre; whatever, I am overjoyed at this latest success.
The email traffic between my parents continues with me replying with as much information and assistance as I can in order to gain their understanding. Their last queries-email was somewhat shorter, as they said that many areas of discussion have now been satisfied. They also said that they like my chosen second name, Denise, which I was really happy about. In their closing paragraph, they said that they consider that they may soon be up to phoning me and asking for a photograph or two. So, overall, it appears that my parents are slowly coming round just nicely. Yippee!