My mother used to play Mahjong every Tuesday night with “the women” throughout the 1950s and well into the 1960s. That’s what she called her group of friends that came together for hours of play, banter and noshing. Each of “the women” (five of them) played hostess every fifth week.
I loved it when “the women” came to our house. They’d arrive around 8 pm and started playing minutes later, helping themselves to the tuna and egg salad, crackers, potato chips, pretzels and M and Ms my mother had layed out. After the game, they’d have coffee and cake. By that time, my dad was finished treating his patients in his downstairs dental office and he’d come up to join the festivities. “The women” left around 11 pm.
It all felt homey and warm and protective, especially on freezing winter nights. All the moms gathered around the small octagonal-shaped Formica table in our small dining room. “The women” lived within a block of each other, none of them worked and they all could talk endlessly about absolutely nothing of consequence.
I started a monthly book group that lasted for a few years. There were about seven of us but not everyone showed up because our jobs were pretty demanding. Each of us brought a dish and we had great dinners. We also drank a ton of wine. We’d talk about sex, marriage, our jobs, travel, movies…and even the books.