Moms need chill time, time alone with other moms to recap, reflect and rejuvenate. Whenever I hear the old adage “Happy wife, happy life”, I envision Ren & Stimpy dancing around singing “happy happy joy joy”. In my version, however, Ren is a 42 year old mother of two and Stimpy,, her bestie, a mom of three. Together, they dance around, pinot grigio flying out of their glasses as they plan their weekend getaway from their brood.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my little hellions and sometimes I’m even fond of my husband. But I also know at the core of my soul that mamma needs a time-out once a year and I intend to make this a tradition, squatting on a massage table, much like that poor turkey on our Thanksgiving table.
The tradition began this year when an invitation arrived for a wedding in Sonoma County, a destination wedding, how fun! I was sure my husband would want to go. Nope! The thought of driving 16 hours in three days shockingly didn’t appeal to him. But to me, hitting the road meant FREEDOM!! So, I asked my girlfriend, Nicola, if she would “Thelma & Louise” it up with me to wine country. After clearing it with her husband, she agreed to be my wedding date. My husband tried one last tactic before giving me his blessing…guilt. “You know, the kids start school the day after you get back!” he proclaimed. I feigned a look of concern, but heck, I was already buckled in my seat.
We broke dust early on a Friday and hightailed it to the Central Coast. We met up with yet another pal, Theresa, and hit two wineries for tastings. At the first place, the wine was dreadful and the pours, seriously frugal, which brings to mind a Woody Allen joke from Annie Hall: Two elderly women are at a Catskill Mountain Resort and one of ‘em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible”. The other one says, “I know, and such small portions!”
The next winery more than made up for it. We got an older Irish gentleman, who was generous not only with his tastings but with his tales. The wine was delicious. We sipped countless extraordinary wines and laughed with our wine barista for a solid hour, and then picnicked out on the benches. Heaven. Was I missing the fam? Heck no. This was more peace than I had known in a decade.
Before heading north, we all got a tea in town to sober up. Then, 4 ½ hours later, Nicola and I pulled up to the Doubletree in Sonoma County. There was a big sign outside the front entrance that read “Welcome To Dork Fest.” We did a double take and then laughed ourselves silly. “Clearly, they knew we were coming” Nic said. We asked a woman in the lobby (seemingly not a dork) to take our picture by the sign. This was too good a Facebook post to pass up. It might even be profile worthy. We checked our emails and went to bed, determined to check out Dork Fest the next day.
Dork Fest is an annual gathering of mostly men and a few women who bought the M/Z3 Coupe during the only couple of years it was available. While some might say this limited vehicle was a dud and the BMW’s version of the Edsel, these folks adore their unique wheels. They proclaim themselves “dorks” for their infatuation. That, and many think the car looks like a Blue Whale’s penis (also known as a “dork”). I know, how special. And even though you didn’t ask, I will share that the whale dork is 15 feet long, the testicles weigh approximately 22 pounds and can produce up to 20 gallons of sperm. No wonder these folks are proud! In the parking lot of the Doubletree, Nicola and I found the Dorks admiring their vintage vehicles. There was no food, drink nor music, just Dorks, a sea of them in all different colors. “Are you kidding me, this is it?” we thought aloud. But before we headed off to explore the sweet town of Petaluma, we took half an hour and interviewed some of these Dork Fest attendees, making a mini mockumentary, just for our own amusement.
As it turned out, the Dorks were lovely people…eccentric, but sweet. Their passion for their cars was rivaled only by their admiration for each other. Through the years, these self-proclaimed “Dorks” had forged strong friendships and their fondness and respect for each other were evident. They had begun their own tradition, just as I was hoping to do with my mommy pals.
That afternoon, Nicola and I raced off to Santa Rosa, to attend the wedding of my old neighbor from the Venice Canals. We made it in the nic of time, pun intended. Nic was flooring it, while I let my toe nails dry in the sunroof of the car. Nicola is a Brit and it felt like we were in one of those English movies, speeding off to a wedding (or funeral). I glanced back but, pity, there was no Hugh Grant in our backseat. We pulled in to discover a stunning vineyard property, intimate, cozy and picture perfect. There were even two gorgeous young flower girls to seal the effect. Nicola, a consummate photog, became the undesignated wedding photographer. We danced, we drank, we ate, we took selfies. It was relaxing and indulgent.
That night, in the Doubletree lobby, some Dorks, wanting to chat, approached us with the offer of a beer. They had seen us filming, heard Nic’s accent and wondered if we were from the BBC. “No!” we laughed, “We’re just dork filmmakers, out to capture a slice of Americana.” Suddenly, it felt cool to be a Dork, a badge of honor. I wanted to use it in every sentence. “Man, it’s been so nice chatting with y’all, but this Dork is shattered!” And with that, we retired to our room, waving goodbye to our new Dork friends. Some people have Coachella, some people have Paris, but we’ll always have Dork Fest.