A couple of weeks ago, I found myself nervously waiting in the foyer of a sushi bar, to a soundtrack of blaring live rock music, trying to work out who was likely to be a 'mom'. I had been invited by my first new friend here, a lovely fellow European expat, to join the local 'moms' group' for their monthly night out. However, my friend had not yet appeared, and here I was eyeing up twenty and thirtysomething women sipping cocktails on a Friday night, wondering if they were part of the group.
There was no way I was about to saunter up to someone and ask whether they were part of the 'moms' night out'. If they were not - say they were a twenty five year old waiting for their boyfriend, or someone who desperately wanted kids but couldn't have them - they might well be offended. And even if they were, they might think: do I really look like I must be the mother of several children? Is my stomach THAT wobbly? It's difficult, I realised, to spot fellow mummies without the accessories of their children, buggies and kiddy paraphenalia; and even more difficult to approach them.
My nerves were also down to the anticipation that I might have nothing in common with these 'mommies' except the fact we all had kids - would we chat about anything other than potty training, preschools and the like? All of which is reasonably interesting in its place but not really something I could imagine bonding over. In other words, would I find any kindred spirits? I'd noticed that on the group email many people referred to themselves as 'suzy's mom' or suchlike - as if not possessing their own identity other than being somebody's mother. This rang slight alarm bells for me. Also, it occurred to me that a night out with NCT friends or similar at home was always a 'Girls' Night Out'; never a 'Mums Night Out'. It all sounded - well, so matronly.
Eventually I spotted my friend and we sat down at a large table of decidedly non-matronly looking females. It was difficult to chat at first; not only was the live band in the restaurant incredibly loud, everyone was excitedly saying hello to people they knew. So I just I smiled politely at people and answered their questions about our recent arrival.
Then the girl next to me - who was sipping her second Cosmo - suddenly got all excited and giggly. Why? She had just spotted a 'hot' guy coming out of the loos. I had to crane my neck to see, and at the same time try not to be so obvious. She explained that she found this guy attractive because he looked like Sylar from Heroes (who I seem to remember is the baddie, but also not bad looking). Anyway then we got onto chatting about various TV shows, and House, and how we both fancied Hugh Laurie. (Of course, I had to boast here that I had fancied him since 1989, before he was even heard of in America.).
I began to relax (and, at the end of the evening, we arranged to meet for a playdate with the kids). Because however fascinating children are (and one's own are generally more interesting than other people's), what I'm craving at the moment is some good old-fashioned girl talk. And, while it may not be the state of world politics, fancying Hugh Laurie is a pretty good opener for that.