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scary menopause I’ve spent considerable time over the years pondering the mysteries of the universe, but the one I truly can’t solve is why it takes four women 80 emails to find a mutually-agreed-upon date for lunch.

Of course, that also applies to movie groups, book clubs, bridge dates, and pretty much any activity where more than three women are attempting to congregate.

I know there are digital applications where everyone can post her available dates. But it doesn’t matter. By the time everyone does, someone is already not available.

A friend belongs to a theoretically-weekly bridge foursome that only ends up meeting about 10 times a year. Hoping to improve that, they enacted a policy about requiring a replacement to be provided should one not be able to attend. That lasted until four subs showed up to play.

Now, I’ve never belonged to either a bridge club (can’t count cards to save my life) or a book club but I have belonged to a number of movie groups. One that I belonged to had eight members. Deciding on a movie was complicated enough, so to keep the logistics down, we decided we would always meet on the second Thursday of the month. We saw lots of movies over time but the one date on which we never saw one was the second Thursday of the month. Because as soon as the long-suffering movie group organizer sent out a query as to what we wanted to see, someone invariably responded that she wouldn’t be available on that night but would be available on these nights. And then we were off and running. Eighty emails to find a new date would have been optimistic.

The organizer of that group, who valiantly hung in there for years and for whom I have nothing but admiration, is now rumored to be in a home for the organizationally frustrated, sipping umbrella drinks on a bucolic lawn and being tended by white-coated professionals.

Because even when we finally agreed upon a new date (which curiously always seemed to be a Monday even though we’d all decided earlier that we shouldn’t meet on Mondays since it was a bad day for everyone), we had to pick a movie.

Now, these were women who liked movies (and hence why they joined such a group) and some of them belonged to film societies as well. So we couldn’t see any of the upcoming film society picks, or anything that anyone had already seen, or was being reserved to see with a husband.

One of our members would only see “important” movies, defined as being well reviewed by the New York Times film critic and thus having socially redeeming value. I myself am a “fluffy” movie person but movie groups are not generally fluffy movie crowds. In fact, we didn’t see movies; we saw “films.” The end result was that our selections were often three-hour, black and white, graphically-violent war dramas in Hungarian with subtitles depicting (way too successfully, in my view) the misery of the human condition. But no one had already seen it. (I think that statement may apply globally.) I spent many of these with my jacket over my head. However, I adored the other women in the group and we always had dinner afterwards, often with enough wine to blot out memories of the movie, which usually caused me screaming nightmares for weeks.

I would also mention that the person who threw out the first volley about changing the date usually cancelled at the last minute. And don’t even ask how many emails it took to decide where to go to dinner.

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