Remember those sleepless nights right after the birth of a baby? You wondered how you would ever make it through the week, and to survive six weeks seemed an impossibility. But you did, and you arrived at the far end of six months with a fairly thin waist and the rabid desire for adult conversation or any kind of intellectual stimulation. You also felt like getting dressed up in something sexy and kicking up your heels (the old-fashioned word for partying), and maybe flirting a little to prove that, after five children, you still had what it took and there might be someone out there who wanted to take it. This, of course, was all very innocent, because that’s what we were in those days. Innocent.

An invitation came from the neighbors across the way to a party loaded with high-flying scientists from the Bell Labs just down the road in Murray Hill.  Oh, boy, I get to jump-start my brain and hear about fascinating inventions like the laser and semiconductor purification. Or discuss the latest findings on Sputnik and space travel. What could be better?

In the ‘60’s women dressed up for parties, even a casual invite to a neighbor’s house. It was a chance to wear that new shimmery low-cut taffeta with the puffy sleeves and short flaring skirt. The only drawback was the miserably uncomfortable pointy high heels required to complete the look. Rhinestone earrings were in order and an upswept hairdo the rage, if you had the time to pull it off.

I was in my element when we walked into the front room of the Eckhardt’s for what I thought of as my “coming out” party. I seated myself next to a handsome young scientist and opened with something profound like, “Oh, Dr. Wolfe, tell me about your latest project.”

At this point George, our host, said, “How about a martini, Meg.” I had never had a martini, but was hungry and the olive looked good, so I nodded affirmatively. In short order my glass was empty.

“Another?” queried George.

Dr. Wolfe seemed far away and a little fuzzy by the time I had downed the second martini. I was trying to act intelligent, but at this point it was all I could do to smile and nod. The olives had done very little to absorb the alcohol.

I don’t know whether a third martini was offered, but the next thing I remember is my husband tapping me on the shoulder and saying, “It’s time to go, honey.” I was lying on the bottom bunk in little Henry Eckhardt’s room, wastebasket at my side. Evidently, when I piled in, he had been moved to his sister’s room.

How humiliating. “Is the party over?” I managed through mounting tears.

“Yes. We’re the last ones to leave.” I had missed dinner. And dancing. And all those interesting people.

The host and hostess were solicitous. I must come again.

So it was back to the nursery for me. Crushed, I felt unfit for adult society. Glen, always the sport, tried to be helpful. “There will be other times, Sweetheart. Just don’t go near another martini.” And to this day I can’t even look a green olive in the eye.

Twenty years after this major social disaster I was in Albuquerque doing a music workshop, and looked up the Eckhardts, who had moved there. During the evening a tall young man walked into the room. Could this be Henry? He took one look at me and said, “Oh, I remember you. You’re the lady who took my bed and threw up all night in my wastebasket.”

I was flattered that he still recognized me, but what a way to be remembered! “I’ve grown up a lot since then, Henry. Trust me.”