Jane Green
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Key Parties

July 5th, 2016

His and Hers ChickensHours spent gossiping with friends: 4

Hours spent making soup: 1

Hours spent worrying about no one wanting to swing with me: .01

Hours spent writing: 0

I was very sad to hear about Victoria Wood’s death. She was a fixture of my youth, and to this day, when I bring soup to the table, I totter madly with a crooked grin and set it down in front of my children saying, “Soup, Madam?”

My American children have no idea what I am talking about, but it amuses me every time.

Lots of lovely quotes from her were popping up all over social media on the day she died, and my absolute favorite was this: “I once went to one of those parties where everyone threw their keys into the middle of the room. I don’t know who got my moped, but I drove that Peugeot for years.”

I moved to my coastal Connecticut town fifteen years ago, and the first thing, almost the very first thing I heard, was that my town was infamous for “key parties.”  I was intrigued! I had no idea this was still going on, but apparently it was alive and well and happening all over Westport!

Someone whispered Marion Road. Someone else whispered Saugatuck Shores. Yet another whispered Burnham Hill. Everyone I knew said they absolutely knew it was going on, but no-one seemed to ever actually confess to being at one of these parties themselves.

I can’t think of anything worse than being at a key party and potentially going home with someone else’s husband. Quite apart from anything else, I’m very happy with my husband, and I also happen to think he’s quite the sexiest thing around. Also, I’m about to turn forty eight. He loved me before everything drifted south and basically went to pot. He loved me when I was firm! And slim! And perky! Well, perky-ish. I will admit I wasn’t ever entirely perky. But now, as I approach the crest of the hill, I’m absolutely convinced that if I were ever to go to a key party and find myself in a strange bedroom with someone else’s husband, he’d take one look and flee in horror.

I hadn’t thought about key parties in years, convinced that it was one great big apocryphal myth, like the ghost stories they tell at every sleepaway camp, each of which has an evil child that met an untimely death in the great pond and returns every summer to haunt the good, innocent campers.

Because if it is true, why hasn’t anyone invited us? Not that I would say yes, but I’d still like to be invited. What’s wrong with us? It must all be untrue.

Then last week I had tea with my young friend. She has only moved to town recently, and is a decade younger than I, with young children. “Oh, swinging’s all the rage,” she whispered. “Everyone’s doing it!”

“Really?” The shock showed on my face. “Are you?”

“Well, no,” she said, explaining that not only does she not want to sleep with anyone other than her husband (and even that is questionable given the very young children), she’s also in bed by nine. And the swinging happens around midnight: Whoever is left at the party at midnight, knows what’s on the agenda for the rest of the night.

I am now certain there is something wrong with me. Either that, or I’m very lucky indeed.

(This article was first published in The Lady Magazine.)


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