About two years ago I was invited to join in a book club. I should mention that we use the term very loosely, and that my mother refers to it as The Wine Club.
I’m not all that big on wine myself (which should not be confused with not being big on cocktails, for example), so for the first couple of meetings I took some juice. By the end of the first year they had remedied that though.
Generally we meet on the second or third Saturday of each month, at about three o’ clock in the afternoon, and it is held at one of the members’ homes – usually H, because she is the ringleader, is centrally located, and makes yummy snacks from scratch. Oh, and they also have a wine cellar. C has moved to Canada, and we only once met at their place before they left. One of the M’s (there are three of us) also hosts our meetings from time-to-time.
We are a difficult bunch to get together though. Last year for our first meeting only H and I were available, and we decided to go shopping instead. This year I was looking forward to going over to M’s place again, but woke up without a voice and had to cancel at the last minute.
But contrary to popular belief, we don’t just sit around drinking wine and skinnering. At least not the whole time. When we’re all present, since C’s departure, there are five of us. I’m the youngest. The others all studied together – making for great trips down memory lane. H and I have been friends for ten years this year, and considering that after our first meeting she thought I was bipolar, I think it’s a good thing – the decade friendship, that is.
We often take our meetings to little coffee shops, like the farewell for C at Josephine’s Tea Room. (Brilliant idea on my part since C loves teas, and has since Uni stocked a great variety of them).
A typical meeting would start with me showing up early – I cannot help it, try as I might. We’ll get some drinks, snacks, catch up on how everyone and their families are doing, and then discuss the last book we read. This could last up to half an hour! We are very specific in what we like and what we don’t. Often though, I’m a very bad member and don’t always read the book. Once we even chose a book I recommended and I didn’t read it – not for lack of trying though. I’ve been improving as well.
After the discussion of the last book, we’ll throw around ideas and suggestions for the next month. I’m partial to suggesting books I already own, since I need to read them sometime, and my finances don’t always allow for such luxuries. But even if it’s not something I have, I don’t need any excuse to buy a new book – it might mean I go hungry for the foreseeable future, but at least my priorities are sorted.
By this time the snacks are likely to be finished and we’ve moved on to a second, possibly even third bottle of wine. And then we start skinnering, commiserating, reminisce, etc. Usually around five we’ll make some coffee, throw out the several empty wine bottles, and have something sweet with our Java. By six we’ll all make noises about going home – feeding families and significant others, etc. Sometimes the significants will join us afterwards for a braai. (Sometimes they take initiative and feed themselves as well as any kids involved – they seem to have learned).
It’s really such a nice time. You get together with friends you don’t see often – if at all outside these gatherings – talk about something you all like, or dislike as the case sometimes is, fatten up on lovely snackies and wine, and after a good afternoon of bonding you go home and relax a little more there.
Yes, ours is a very informal club. We don’t quote from the books – that would require us to put our wine down, and our lovely finger-snacked fingers will leave marks on the pages. We do have a journal that I got at my favourite bookshop in Cape Town a previous time I went there, where we all write something about the book of last month – if you want to. Maybe we do use this “club” as a pretense to buy (more) books, drink wine and bond with like-minded women. I don’t see that as a bad thing.