GENTLE READERS: I am getting deeper into my novel. So I am cutting back on the blog, and from now on will post one a month.
For Amanda’s 11th birthday Joe and I planned a slumber party. The girls were to arrive at 6 on Friday, and leave at 10 the next morning. As I always do, I fretted considerably over the details.
Sleeping (hah!) arrangements:
Last year we had a small slumber party, with four girls, as a kind of trial run. This year I had allowed Amanda to invite eight girls, betting that only about five would come. (In Gainesville it is considered rude to reply to an invitation.)
With two twin mattresses, an inflatable mattress, and two foam camping pads, we turned the living room into one solid bed in front of the couch, with a space left open in front of the fireplace to avoid disasters. I was sure that we could get two on the very deep couch, others could sprawl crosswise aross the twins, for a ratio of three girls to two beds, and someone could sleep in the recliner. But seven of the eight girls came to the party. They had all grown about three inches since fourth grade. And they snubbed the foam mats.
The inadequate bedding may have been the reason several of them never went to bed. When I told one father that his daughter claimed to have stayed up all night, he said cheerfully, “Oh, she’s ADD, she never sleeps.” Now I understood why he had not lingered when he dropped her off.
Fried chicken, baked beans, canned corn, chips and dip, cookies, s’mores, ice cream cake, and six liters of soda pop. Of course they didn’t eat the corn, my one pitiful attempt at sneaking in a vegetable.
We didn’t have them when I was a little girl, but now every child leaves a birthday party with a bag of gifts. Fortunately Amanda reminded me of this a whole day before the party, and I had a lot of fun at Dollar Tree. Nail polish with decals and glitter, a candle in a glass, a box of skittles, and mardi gras beads.
One girl was going to be late, so we decided to delay dinner until 7. Joe was concerned: what would they do before dinner? I assured him that they could entertain themselves. And they did - as each guest arrived, she joined the pack who were running and screaming from the living room, through the kitchen, down the hall, to Amanda’s room and back again. They settled in Amanda’s room for awhile with the door closed, doing God knows what. Then they returned to the living room to eat an entire bag of Doritos with cheese glop.
For the most part, Joe and I stayed out of the room and within hollering distance. I walked around cleaning up messes more or less as they occurred. I overheard hideous mean girl gossip about the girl who arrived late, a lot of “well she told me she doesn’t like you,” “she thinks she’s so hot...”
Amanda is mercurial in her friendships, and two days after inviting everybody, decided she didn’t like that girl, supporting her dislike with a long list of hateful remarks. So I was worried that the girls would be cruel, but when the latecomer arrived about 8, the party gained new energy, all of them tumbling and wrestling on the mattresses. I was such a goody-goody little girl. These girls are much rowdier. They all play sports, and their play is rough and physical. Not a lady in the bunch, thank God and Title Nine.
image:thegraphicsfairy.com pk yonge blue wave team. image:preps.gainesville.com
They ate almost all the chicken, most of the cake and all the cookies. They drank six liters of soda and belched magnificently. They lay on the mattresses and watched Like Mike (an orphan’s magic sneakers make him an NBA superstar), farted and accused each other of farting. When they weren’t shrieking, yelling, screaming, belching, farting, they were laughing or whispering.
At ten o’clock I went to bed, leaving Joe in charge. At 10:30 the laughing and screaming was even louder, and woke me up. I went out to see what was happening, and found they were all in the pool. We hadn’t told them to bring bathing suits, because the temperature was in the 60's, the water temperature 70. But they pleaded with Joe to let them swim. Some of them borrowed Amanda’s bathing suits and the rest swam in their clothes. They batted beach balls around and screamed until I came out again and asked them to keep it down because of the neighbors.
They stayed in the pool about half an hour, and then took hot showers. I put all the wet clothes in the laundry, and at about midnight Joe lit the fire. They made a million s’mores and watched Joyful Noise (Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton and teen romance).
They dropped one by one, until at 4:30 I came out and told the last two to go to sleep (they were yelling), and found them beds in the front room.
When I got up again at 7:15, three were up playing hide and seek. By 8:30 all but Julie were up - we couldn’t get her out of the recliner. Somewhat subdued, they ate huge amounts of waffles, eggs, sausage and juice for breakfast. As their parents came to pick them up, they searched the wreckage for their clothes, stuffed animals, and dvd’s. They succeeded in finding almost everything - I had to sort through a few socks, bras and t- shirts later that day.
In my eavesdropping I had overheard plans for pranks involving syrup and mayonnaise. At one point they emerged from Amanda’s bedroom and I heard, 'What if her grandma finds out?' 'Just don’t say anything.' In the end, there were no serious problems. They left a door unlatched and Trisket got into the atrium and ate most of the dog food. After each girl fell asleep, the wide-awake ones scribbled on her arms with marker. And they apparently took one girl’s retainer from her purse, hiding the case under the couch, and the retainer under the cushions. It was a couple of days before we found them. Luckily, the retainer wasn’t damaged.
It helps me to observe other girls in their natural habitat. Like many American preteens, Amanda is precociously sexual, slathering on makeup and sulking when I make her clean it off, begging for the shortest shorts and tightest shirts, bragging about all her boyfriends, dirty dancing at every opportunity. Her seven friends are similar. But at kissing scenes in the movies they yelled 'Gross!' and dived under the pillows, and their favorite activity at the party (aside from eating) was hide and seek. All their pseudo-sophistication fell away, and they seemed like little girls again.
Amanda had an over the top party-girl weekend. At 2 o’clock she had a volleyball game, and to my astonishment her team won, though five of the players had been at the party. They had a team party afterwards at Stevie B’s (a pizza and games joint with the nastiest pizza in the southeast) and of course Amanda couldn’t miss that. From 5 to 8 she had another birthday party, this time at a Karaoke club. She got all tarted up in leggings and spangles and earrings, but no way was she going to sing, she told us. By the time we picked her up from the karaoke bash (the birthday mother told us she had to make Amanda give up the mike) she was a rude and sullen mess. But I held on to the memory of her snuggling back into bed at ten that morning, mumbling ‘thank you, Grandma’ before she fell asleep.
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NEXT POST: December 27.