Hen nights. I’m sure you’ve been to one or two. But have you ever been to a stag party?
If you’re a woman, it’s most likely that the answer is no.
However, I was invited to one recently. Or at least part of one.
You see, I’m still friends with a very ex-boyfriend John. I went out with John for three years at university and after our very amicable split six years ago we remained good friends, as we shared the same group of uni pals.
All of us have stayed in touch and I have met his fiancée several times. She’s a lovely girl and we get on well. I have even been down to stay with them a couple of times when they’ve had parties.
Anyway, I hadn’t even given a thought to John’s stag do, as I am a girl, until he rings the other day to tell me he’s arranging it and wanted me to be ‘involved’.
I was flattered and excited. Of course I wanted to join in the secret boys’ world of a stag do.
Then he mentioned that his fiancée, Sarah, is having her hen party the same day. "You are more than welcome to come to that, too," he offered.
Am I? That’s very kind, but why on earth would she want her hubby-to-be’s ex there? I knew I wouldn’t. Had she invited me specifically?
"Well, no," he concedes. "She’s not organising it but I’m sure she would like you to come."
I wasn’t so sure. As well as anyone may get on with their boyfriend’s ex, no-one wants them at their hen do. That’s the night that you bear you single soul for the last time to your closest and most beloved female friends and family.
And how could I be at both if they were to be on the same night?
"I thought you could come indie cart racing with me and the boys in the afternoon then meet Sarah and the girls for dinner and then clubbing," he suggested eagerly. He obviously had it all worked out. "You see, I think the evening will be when the real debauchery takes place…"
I got it. So, the evening was really ‘boys only’ was it?
"Well, yes. Kinda," he allowed.
I said it all sounded good and I would have to think about it.
He concluded by saying: "I didn’t want to exclude you, because…"
I’m a girl? That was the cause of the problem. I didn’t comfortably fit into either category. Being a female AND my ex’s friend meant I was caught uncomfortably between the stags and the hens. Neither route looked tempting.
Of course, I could have just done the indie cart racing and gone home. But that wasn’t enough. I wanted the good bit of the evening or nothing.
And I couldn’t bring myself to arrive, uninvited, to the hen party. No-one really wanted that – it was just a convenient solution to the problem.
So I bowed out of both, with a gracious thanks but no thanks, I can’t afford it, which is also true.
The funny thing is, I never wanted to go until he gave me the idea. Then I felt disappointed I couldn’t really be involved.
I wonder if this is a modern phenomenon now it’s common to have opposite sex friends. What do other people do? Are stag and hen parties often mixed? And what’s the polite thing to do if you are invited out of politeness?