We all know what a hen is — you couldn’t miss those girls in the trashy pink feather boas, fake wedding veils and sashes staggering down the street with their hysterical hangers-on. Generally, these parties involve lots of excitable girls, lots of drink and lots of loud silliness; hens getting sozzled and falling asleep in hotel foyers and pub toilets; Mister and Missus Quizzes, blow up dolls, strippers, fortune-telling and the like.
But when I read a Top Five list of the most popular Hen Party games of the moment, I hadn’t the first clue what they were, and when I realised what was involved I wanted to hide in a cupboard under my duvet.
The top five most popular stag activities were dead easy to understand. They involved simple, wholesome fun. Stuff like paintball, funballs, clay pigeon shooting, surfing and coasteering.
This is because, on the whole, men are simple creatures (until you marry one of them) and you can see the attraction of these physical, healthy sports carried out in the fresh air and involving lots of happy, healthy male bonding.
But the hen activities!
Some of the most popular games seem to be rooted in TV-based programmes — there’s The Cube Challenge, which, on investigation, turned out to be a game involving swapping balls from one box to another. Another big one is the True Detective search for the groom, which involves the kidnap and eventual rescue of a groom who has foolishly spent the Wedding Fund. There’s even a garda inspector and a videotape of all the fun and bonhomie involved. I really cannot imagine the sheer awfulness of participating in something like this.
Worst of all, and, in my view, justifiably placed at the bottom of the list is the Life Nude class where a bunch of women sit around and sketch a naked man. Could you honestly think of anything more cringe-making?
The only one of any real interest is the Crystal Maze Game, or Boda Bord (from Sweden of course; they’re so sensible.) This, it transpired, following some research, is a kind of indoor puzzle house filled with activities, puzzles and enjoyable tasks) including 50 or so different challenges that are split into 15 quests. The Boda Bord, according to the survey, was the most popular game, though to be honest it still left me cold.
But what this all really makes me wonder is where were all the fun-loving brides-to-be back in the cash-strapped 1980s when I was getting married?
I recall looking on enviously as a friend and her new husband helicoptered from the church to the hotel on their wedding day.
This was the ‘in’ thing at the time, apart from the mandatory ‘big’ hair, frothy, complicated wedding dress and two weeks in Lanzarote. However, I don’t recall any of this hen stuff going on and I don’t recall seeing pre-wedding hens whizzing around in pink feather boas and fake veils out of their minds on drink.
Is it fun?
It doesn’t sound like fun. But, then, girls are always so much more complicated and demanding than boys.
Certainly, the survey findings released on behalf of HenandStagSligo.ie, one of the country’s main package providers for hens and stag parties, would tend to underscore that.
It asked ‘hens’ for their views on the perfect hen weekend. A solid 55% of respondents agreed hens are wilder than stags when they’re let loose for the night. I wouldn’t disagree.
However, I’m with the third of respondents who said that the arrival of a stripper was the most embarrassing thing they have ever seen on a hen — especially when the hen herself was uncomfortable with it.
Other embarrassing moments relayed to the researchers included the bride’s skirt splitting in two on the dance floor, Mr & Mrs quizzes and people generally getting drunk. Not just drunk though.
Somebody mentioned the discovery of a Wedding Princess fast asleep and drunk out of her hen-splattered little mind on the floor of an airport toilet — after her flight had departed.
God, I couldn’t think of anything worse.
Man; I really am past it. Thank God.