My mom and her friend recently went to a bar hopping event dressed in floral smock dresses with big pearls and red wigs. At first glimpse, you would think they had gone as middle-aged Annies, but nope, they were dressed as Mrs. Roper. And they weren’t the only ones. Turns out, this is a thing. That a bunch of people, like 50 to 100, will dress up as this woman and party it up. This has been going on for a decade; I’ve just learned about this now, and it’s a new favorite cliche bit of happiness to look at.
The romps began during Southern Decadence, a gay pride week event in New Orleans when 50 people dressed up as this woman in a parade. From then, 50 has turned into thousands of participants in bar crawls or as a party theme. No longer restrained to New Orleans, you can find the “Ropers” romping it up in California or New York.
Now, if you were like my cousin and I, you also would have no clue who the fuck this woman is. And why has she become a gay icon? Mrs. Roper is a character from the 1970s-1980s TV show “Three’s Company.” You can see where the confusion began. Having heard of the show, like just heard of the name, I knew nothing about it. Turns out, she and her husband were the landlords of the building the main characters lived in. They even got their own spin-off show that lasted one season. The concept of the show is that two girls end up living platonically with a straight man. Mrs. Roper’s husband does not approve of the situation because he does not think that unmarried men and women should live together, so they tell him the man is gay, and he thinks nothing of it. Mrs. Roper sees through their lie but could give two shits because of her attitude towards the homosexual community, which is vastly different from her husband’s opinion. Some might say she was ahead of her time; others would call her a badass, making her an icon to the gay community.
So how did my mom and her friend fare amongst the twenty-somethings? Well, enough that my dad and sister had to pick them up from the bar. I thought it was hilarious, and my mom had a great time, which is great to hear. But it got me thinking about bars in general and the community it brings. It’s a place where people gain the confidence to talk to strangers when they wouldn’t have the courage to do so otherwise. It’s a place that can go south real quickly if people want to ruin it for everyone, or it could be a place where people share ideas and gain connections. It could be a place where everyone knows your name, so to speak. The variety of bars is endless, and there is something for everyone. No wonder it’s one of the categories country singers sing about.
The University of Maine college campus has maybe one bar, OHOP, and at least five frats throwing on Friday or Saturday nights. The typical college student will not want to party at a brewery; they want their community. A place that will lay the hammer down when needed and keep the place a place where people want to keep returning to. Something that’ll help with the drinking issue or contain it instead of eliminating it altogether. It could help take the stress off of binge drinking and alcohol poisoning. Take it from someone who is of that age of wanting independence, wanting to have fun, that if someone tries to take it away, we get pissed. Think Footloose: Kevin Bacon is a hero to a lot of people. An icon, one might say.
I’ve mentioned before that there should be over 18 clubs or bars for people to go to have fun without having to worry about the dangers that come with a sketchy place. But who am I to say? I just think people would prefer drag shows in a bar or live music in a venue that has a quality atmosphere that everyone can enjoy, or even a Roper Romp with people who are also interested in doing it. Compromise is important when it comes to wanting to start to accept something, and it may just be having a little faith and making good from a difficult situation. And I think that is the message that Mrs. Roper is trying to convey.