Hen dos. Where do we stand on them honestly? Once upon a time, it was enough to march off to Strawberry Moons, with phallic whistles hanging around your necks, and make the bride dance around a pole after forcing her to down many many tequila shots in quick succession.
But not now. A night out clubbing? Not a chance. Hen dos now are strategic operations that take months of planning, days (if not weeks) from your holiday allowance, and more than just pennies from your pocket.
There's a ticklist too - a hen do in 2013 must include:
a) a 'girlie night in', gossip and discussions of the groom's penis size mandatory, facemasks optional
b) an activity of some kind - think dance class, spa visit etc
c) afternoon tea - mother of the bride's attendance often required for this bit, naked butlers are also a popular guest
d) a posh dinner - van-loads of Prosecco mandatory
e) the 'classic' aforementioned phallic-sponsored night out getting drunk/dancing like a loon in front of YOUNG people who titter behind their hands at all the tragic oldies in their thirties
I've never been lucky enough to be part of a big group of female friends, who all met at the same time, know each other really well and all get on. Instead I seem to have developed pockets of friends over the years, who may have met a few times at my birthday parties etc, but who don't know each other really. So at every hen do I've ever been on, I'm kind of on the outside - really close to the bride but rather more unfamiliar with my fellow hens. Which can make them exhausting affairs. I've actually ended up feeling really guilty about it, and can put it down to my allergy to 'organised fun' but the truth is, I've often approached hen dos with a sense of dread.
I recently discovered a fantastic and brilliant excuse for my general Scrooge-like feelings about them however: namely, I'm an introvert. Who knew? Introverts are people who find other people EXHAUSTING. An introverts idea of 'fun' is a night in, with a bottle of Chanel nail varnish, a bottle of ice-cold Sauvignon Blanc and a boxset. Oh, and most importantly, no guests.
So last weekend I trotted off to Bath for my friend Sophy's hen do, with a little trepidation. Now, I love Sophy to bits. She was one of my flatmates in my first year at uni and I doubt I would have survived the Leeds experience if it weren't for her. And thankfully we have two friends in common, so I was literally among friends this weekend. But still when I turned up on the Friday, there was a sense of 'first day at school and I'm six again and wondering what the other girls will be like'. And of course they were lovely, and I was being an idiot. But I still felt shy.
Shy, that is, until the Saturday, when we went BOATING.
I've now decided - every hen do should involve the risk of drowning. It's a little bit like the advice (bear with me, this is obscure) they give you when you're trying to bond a pair of rabbits. Stick them in a cardboard box together and drive them around in the car. They'll be best friends for life after.
So forget the spa visits. Boating is where it's at. Fearing for your life (or maybe just your handbag) is a great leveller. Suddenly, we're all equal.
From now on, if a hen do doesn't involve a boating trip, I may have to decline...