The most successful covert operations take place under cover of night. Measures of success include: the target subject has been brainwashed with the appropriate propaganda; an environment has been plundered; booty is recovered; that these activities have not been captured on film; and all soldiers return home safely.
Bachelor parties are infamous for providing the groom with his last hurrah as a free man. Typically this party involves interaction with members of the opposite sex. As no self-respecting female would want to be any man's toy for one night, let alone a soon-to-be-married man surrounded by his lecherous pals, the women are usually of the bored, hired variety—strippers, hookers, exotic dancers at topless bars and so on. Although the groom pretends to relish the prospect of a sordid night out with his rowdy chug-a-lug buddies, it was one too many of these nights that sent him to Tiffany's engagement-ring counter in the first place. Most men come home from this primitive rite of passage relieved that it is over and convinced that their single friends' personal lives are pathetic. A lot more drinking goes on than real sweaty action.
So why should the guys have all the fun? Especially when, as in most things, women can do it better. Whether you choose port and cigars over damask-covered tables, or tequila and dancing on the tables, treat yourself to a girls' night out. A bachelorette party for the bride can recreate those bar-hopping nights during which you had to fend off men after accepting the drinks they bought and the days spent gossiping about the professional basketball player Cheryl made out with in a banquette. As the bride's mother is usually at the bridal shower, the bachelorette party is the ideal time to give the bride the sexy lingerie she'd rather not display in front of her mother and to reminisce about past boyfriends. All sorts of venues are available and can make for a memorable nighttime or weekend getaway.
1. A new trendy restaurant. This is a great, harmless place to play eye hockey with handsome men and flex your flirtation muscles while looking your best.
2. A favorite restaurant. If the group has a tried-and-true hangout, why not go there? Order artery-clogging foods that the health-conscious groom won't allow the bride to ingest, like cheeseburgers and fries. Wash it down with plenty of cheap beer and then pick out names for the next generation.
3. A weekend getaway at a spa. If you can afford it, this is really the luxurious weekend you'll want to make a tradition. Gretchen in the white coat will knead the tension knots out of the bride's neck and Lya will repair the bridal party's chewed fingernails. Pear salads and eucalyptus steam baths for everyone!
4. A weekend at a beach house or ski resort condo. Before she takes the big final step, the bride will appreciate the beach for long walks or the fresh air of an alpine mountain to clear her head. Rum is the preferred all-weather drink, whether mixed with Coke or hot buttered, and an excellent catalyst for mischief. Throw some Jimmy Buffett CDs into your duffel bag.
5. Disco night. Break out the satin and the platform shoes for a feverish night with the Bee Gees, the Bay City Rollers, and the Icon of Love, Barry White. The bride can bury her face
in a hairy chest under a multifaceted globe and come home with serpentine gold chain indentations on her cheek.
6. A cultural field trip. The bride loves Seurat; the groom is a contractor who would rather watch paint dry than contemplate the chromo-luminism of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Treat her to tickets for the most exciting museum show of the year in New York, Philadelphia, or Boston.
7. Brunch with the body builders. After Bloody Marys and eggs Benedict, take a road trip to watch men you'd never dream of marrying flex their biceps and twist their slick torsos at an out-of-state competition. Ask if you can feel their muscles. All of them.
8. A wine tasting. Occasionally vineyards hold wine-tasting nights, as do some restaurants. Under the starlit skies, sit at a picnic table with congenial strangers and sample the five main categories of wine. Start with a Bordeaux, sip from your neighbor's Meursault and reach for the Zinfandel. The food is an afterthought.
9. A cowboy bar. Go to the real ones where the men know how to line dance. Feel the reverberations of the sawdust floor as 50 couples kick up their boot heels. Feel your heart pound as Marlboro Man pulls you closer with callused hands. He rustles steer during the day and the pickup truck is parked just outside. He's called "Tex," and you never ask for a last name.
And then there's ... 10. The strip joint. Find an imaginative skin show that features men in uniforrn—doctor, lawyer, Indian chief—who take it all off. Peel a Ulysses S. Grant from a wad of bills and hand it to the bride to stick in a mustachioed policeman's holster. You know all these cheesy men are gay, but it's fun to watch their naked bodies gyrate and to shout, "Wag it!" The flower girl stays home.
It's usually wise to make this outing a couple of weeks before the wedding. Allow the bride time to recover from her night of reckless debauchery. Dark undereye circles diminish in two days. Bruised lips take longer. Throw her bachelorette party on the night the groom plays stupid drinking games with his ushers. You'll distract her from worrying about Fred hurting himself, and imagine how he'll feel when he climbs into bed at 3:00 a.m., calls Betsy, and gets no answer. If they are already cohabitating, he'll pace until she bursts in the front, door at 7:00 a.m., whistling Joe Cocker's "Feeling Alright." He'll comprehend that his future wife's friends know how to show her a better time than his own friends do him, and that she can handle it. He'll respect their joie de vivre and never extend a business trip.