Step One to Beating the Childhood Doldrums: Summon the Dead

When you are a kid, sleeping at a home other than your own is a welcomed break from the norm, despite the apparent lunacy of the practice. I mean, seriously, your odds of contracting childhood lice are high enough as it is just by attending school. It seems like you would want to avoid any opportunity to contract them off-site. But I guess that’s more your mom’s problem than yours? Ei yai yai.

The thing is, you do it. You carry your overnight bag to the stinky kid’s house like you’re Little Orphan Annie going to spend the night at Oliver Warbuck’s. If you think that your adulthood routine of drinking your coffee at the exact same time each day just so you can schedule a predictable poop in-between meetings at work is sad now, think back to your childhood. Back then, you didn’t have that kind of control. Your parents packed your days full of lessons and playdates, and even if you expressed interest in piano lessons, you had no choice of when you actually received those lessons. You didn’t know it yet, but you were a morning person, and you would have preferred Chopin at 10AM rather than 3:30PM when Salute Your Shorts came on. I mean, GAH: what is that Budnick going to get into next? I need to know.

But sleepovers. They were a pleasant interruption. The parents there weren’t your parents, making you a free agent for twenty hours. You went to your pal’s house and got to play until you passed out on top of your My Little Pony sleeping bag, not even bothering to zip yourself in.

THIS kind of My Little Pony, by the way:

my_little_pony_and_friends-show

Nost-AL-gia!!! *Sung in Zooey Deschanelish voice*

NOT this kind. Eweweeweweweweeweewwerffdsgdfjkgbdfkjghdxjfhl

images

What is this? Drugs?

It was a less-than-pleasant experience to sleep on a hard floor next to my friend’s clawed cat, but it sure beat the minutiae to be had at my own home. I could only wake up each Saturday morning to watch Paula Abdul dance with DJ Scat Cat so many times before snapping from the absolute 80’s predictability and OD’ing on Fruity Pebbles in a moment of bleak desperation.

So I got invited over? Oh, I’m coming over! With bells, dawg. I will punch holes into that cycle of childhood ennui like a mofo!

Along with eating Little Caesar’s pizza for dinner, playing 9,000 rounds of MASH, and kissing my friend’s Donnie Walberg poster in a totally uncreepy way (no, really), the best way to beat the childhood doldrums at a slumber party was to contact the dead by means of Bloody Mary or a Ouija board.

"Silly rabbit! The occult is for kids!"

Silly rabbit! The occult is for kids!

Despite my good protestant upbringing to shun all evil and ask myself “What would Jesus do?” looooong before a plastic bracelet nagged me, I watched on in horror and fascination as a slumber party I attended when I was nine quickly transitioned from a game of Girl Talk to a seance. A friend of mine invited all the girls in our class over to celebrate her birthday with her, and me being the festive type, I was so in. I looked forward to a round of Sweet Valley High: The Board Game, maybe a quick glimpse at MTV, and if we got really rowdy, a late-night foray into Truth or Dare. Livin’ la vida loca.

Not so. As the midnight hour came closer at hand, the girls pushed childish things aside and became possessed by Beelzebub himself. Someone suggested that the birthday girl – a preacher’s kid, of all people – be put into a trance where she would admit who she had a crush on. If she floated off the floor and her head started spinning too, well, BONUS. I opted to watch the battle of good vs. evil be played out from the safe zone of the family sofa (AKA Purgatory Corner) with Kendra, who was equally intrigued with the shenanigans.

My friend sat upright as another girl chanted the incantation of the Devil: “There’s a knife in your back and the blood’s dripping down….There’s a KNIFE in your back and the blood’s dripping down.” How being stabbed in the back could unlock one’s subconscious was beyond me at the time, but then again I also believed that Madonna and Miss Piggy were the same person.

This is so confusing if you are nine.

This is so confusing if you are nine.

All of a sudden, the birthday girl started yelling out all the names of the boys in our class in a fit of demonic possession. And what’s more! She said that she didn’t like the lunch lady and that the vocabulary quizzes on Wednesday were the worst things ever! It was a truly horrifying moment in my life because at that point I had never looked evil in the face, but this surely was it.

But then, just as soon as the spiritual possession had occurred, the birthday girl’s mom appeared with a box of ice cream and a VHS copy of Drop Dead Fred. It appeared that the army of the Underworld could not stand up against B-list 90’s movies and frozen milk and sugar. Legion, be gone!

We had contacted the spirit world that night, but I still slept soundly. During the monotonous piano lessons, dental appointments, and Sunday School functions of the following weeks, I recalled my night where I saw the battle of good and evil played out in my classmate’s living room and I remembered that sometimes you have to cash in your boredom for absolute terror and possibly your soul too.

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70 comments

  1. Gah! Those ponies have creepy eyes!!
    I loved the Ouji board at sleepovers. It was all those other games we played that I hated. My friends were “preparing my dead body” once and slathered mayo all over my legs. I hate mayonnaise! Blech! But we did put my mom’s bra in the freezer once…which was pretty sweet.
    I’m so in this time.

    1. My husband HATES mayo with a passion too. I’m pretty sure being slathered in it would be his worst nightmare.

  2. We used to do levitations at slumber parties…that whole “stiff as a board” thingamarole and were amazed–AMAZED!–that 10 girls could lift another 50 pound girl. Magic!

    1. The only explanation is that the devil is involved. Seriously, that MUST be it.

  3. Ms. Roberts · · Reply

    I never had slumber parties when I was little. I think that was because I was very tomboyish. But when I got in High School, I slept over my girlfriend’s apartment. We never raised the dead or invoked a demon but we smoked a lot. I loved your story. Thanks for writing.

    1. Smoking is a better activity for teenagers than most of the other things they do. Listen to Justin Bieber, for instance.

      1. Ms. Roberts · · Reply

        My generation is kick ass that way :P

  4. It sounds like we had very similar experiences during sleepovers. Ha! Drop Dead FRED!!!
    The new My Little Ponies creep me out with their tramped out eyes. And the Ouji boards…
    I’m still going to try to write something for this link up, but K is still sick with fever, so I don’t know how successful I will be today. If this will be an ongoing segment, I will link up next week if I can’t finish a post today.

    1. I’m sorry she’s not feeling great! This is for sure going to be a weekly thing, so whenever the topic appeals to you, please feel free to bestow your awesomnity on us ;)

  5. Yep, I remember the ouija board…

    1. That comment is so esoteric. It makes me want to know more….

      1. Let’s just say I was younger, foolisher, just as stupid, and I don’t think anyone has touched that board since.

  6. Bringing back memories – only dabbled with the Ouija board once and it scared the crap out of me. A girl I was dating wound up sitting in the cemetery rocking herself to sleep that night and her best friend saw a vision of a girl in a not-so-family-friendly position. It was just bizarre and scared me away from those things forever.

    1. Now I’m scared! Honestly, they scared the heck out of me as a kid too. I make fun of Ouija boards and those stiff as a board games in this post because I copped out on describing how petrified I was of them. Creepy.

  7. […] you have a memory of a sleepover that you would like to share? Head on over to see Emily or Ashley to grab your badge and get linked up or to check out the other posts in the blog hop! […]

  8. Clearly, I participated in very boring sleepovers, as they never involved MTV or the occult. :-P They did, however, involve lots of My Little Ponies (the REAL ones), and staying up late watching a Star Wars marathon (only 3 movies for the marathon back in those days). Great post, as always. :)

    1. Thanks, Grace! Old School MLP forever! Do you remember the movie?

      1. I’m sure I saw the movie, but I was more into the toys. Now the Care Bear movies, those I remember vividly. Watched most of them a gazillion times. :-P

  9. My folks did a ouija board seance once, scared the absolute crap out of them. As someone who’s had a couple of really quite terrifying run ins with ghosts I’m not going to tempt fate like that!

    Sounds like your little friend was quite the go getter if she named every boy when asked about her crush! Oh and Drop Dead Fred was one of my fave flics when I was around the same age, and my sense of humour hasn’t developed much since then!

    Rohan.

    1. I am so glad you got my reference to Drop Dead Fred! Most of thetime when I talk about that movie (which is often because, I mean, it’s Drop Dead Fred) people have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about.

      Ouija boards are totally freaky! I stay away from them too now. I don’t need any ghosts in my house!

  10. I would never touch one of those boards. I don’t believe in that stuff, but I do believe that insanity can be triggered pretty easily and I know I’m leaning up against the asylum door. Girl sleepovers sound so much scarier than boy ones. All we ever did was play video games. You ladies had to use your imaginations.

    1. Adolescent girls have really scary imaginations. Their minds are truly twisted places. How else could have Justn Beiber gotten so famous? (I’ll be here all week.)

  11. Ashley Austrew · · Reply

    “I watched on in horror and fascination as a slumber party I attended when I was nine quickly transitioned from a game of Girl Talk to a seance.”

    Wasn’t that, like, every sleepover ever? lol Your post is so much better than mine. I was having the hardest time thinking of what to write about, and now, reading everyone else’s, all of these memories are flooding back. I love this game we invented. haha

    1. I feel like we are the hard-boiled editors making all the reporters pump out 500 words on whatever topic we please. As you can see, my Napoleon complex is alive and well.

  12. Okay your story is wayyy more exciting than mine! LOL about Madonna/Miss Piggy (they do kind of look similar) and about My Little Ponies. WTF.
    Ouija boards are sold in Toys R Us so you would think that they wouldn’t be that scary. But my brother and I (like 3 years ago) set one up in a dark room of our house and I could barely even look at it scared me so much. What a brave soul you were!

    1. Honestly, they scared the shit out of me too. I still kind of believe that if you use them sincerely, you can tap into a whole plethora of mess that we are not really equipped to deal with. Toys R Us can keep them. Pass the Barbies.

  13. Hahaha! Yes! Girl Talk! I vaguely remember some bloody Mary stuff going on when I was a kid, which as extra taboo in our Catholic schoolgirl circle. But then again, one of the moms dressed up as a fortune teller for a Halloween party when I was about 9, and, fueled, I’m sure, with info from our moms, told us how many brothers and sisters we had and what our favorite activities were. She told me I’d have two boys and one girl, and that my husband would treat me like a queen. Well, at least she got one thing right so far:)

    1. She is a seer! Very impressive call on her part! ;D

  14. I don’t miss those days. My first sleepover we watched Poltergeist and Twightlight Zone and I think I’m still traumatized today.

    1. I watched the Exorcist at a slumber party once and had to call my dad to get me. I was 16. It was bad.

      1. I’m not one for horror movies. And now they are completely associated with slumber parties and sleepovers for me. So when my daughter asks for a sleepover I think: Don’t bother — you’ll be scared.

  15. Every fantasy I had about sleepovers just came true for me, and the fact that it involved My Little Pony just made it that much better. But since it’s not a sleepover if it’s at my house, I’m not into it. (Because then I’d have guests that won’t leave until morning, which is gross.)

    1. It IS the worst! I am always amazed when our friends who live far away will have us for overnight house guests because for me, the socializing ends at 10:30. I wouldn’t want me around. I always eat all the good cereal.

  16. I feel like I just spent fifteen minutes back in 1987. And you used the word ennui. I think I need to go have a moment.

    1. 1987 was a good year. Kindergarten treated me well.

  17. […] by the sleepover tale I read on The Waiting‘s blog, I felt the need to join the sleepover reminiscing […]

  18. This blog post should be called ‘a list of my favourite things’ My Little pony! Sweet Valley High! Drop Dead Fred! The only thing missing was troll dolls

    1. Yes! Troll dolls! In an interesting twist, my brother had a way better collection of those odd little figurines than I ever did. I loved calling them “dolls” to him and then hearing him yell at me, “They’re FIGURINES!”

  19. Amazed to find out that sleepovers or slumber parties as we called them in NZ are the same in different time-zones. We didn’t have a board but got a milk bottle, all put our little fingers on it and it started to move to Yes, No etc … candles blew out on their own etc etc – Freaked the crap out of me … also had some more innocent ones with involved numerous viewings of Princess Bride and copious amounts of chocolate … Gotta love growing up in the 80s / 90s!

    1. I think I am the one and only girl who grew up in the 80s who never actually saw The Princess Bride. I may have to save it for when my daughter is old enough to watch it and we can marvel in its apparent glory together ;)

  20. […] that Emily at The Waiting is one of the coolest bloggers I know, I will follow, sheep-like, any suggestions she […]

    1. YOU DID! YOU DID! Hurrah! (I am going to comment later today when I’m not knee-deep in luggage and travel playpens, as I’m packing the fam up today for a ten-day roadtrip to see the grandparents.) Now, all you need to do is add the link to your post to the little blue monster box at the bottom of my post so that all the other participants can read your post and you can see theirs ;D

      1. Oh. Um. The monster box? Link it?…. *awkward silence*

        1. There’s a little blue guy at the very bottom of the post. Click it and then fill out the form that will add your link to all the other posts ;)

          1. Ohhhh…. I missed it, didn’t I? Shit.

  21. I love everything about this post. YES! My Little Pony (the real kind)! YES! Drop Dead Fred! YES! Ouija Board! YES! Knife in your back game! (Where did that even COME from?!) I’d like to add that I had a She-Ra sleeping bag. It might still be at my parent’s house…

    1. She-Ra was my original hero! My mom has a video at her house of me when I was four running around the house yelling “Princess of Po-WEEEEEEEEER!”

  22. Oh, wow, YES I remember these “magical” sleepovers. Get a bunch of little tween girls together and watch the heck out. We did the “Bloody Mary” thing in the bathroom mirror. Sure, if you stare at something and chant long enough you’ll start seeing all sorts of stuff. And you could NOT go to sleep without fear that the other girls would do something with your sleeping body. I remember sitting on my sleeping bag with my eyes wide open the entire night. FUN!

    I also ended up watching lots of parent approved nightmare fuel. Who thinks Firestarter or Flowers in the Attic is a good idea for young kids? These people did! Wow, how festive to see the mom hanging in the closet or the kids eating poisoned cookies. Yum, yum. Of course I still wanted to go back, every time.

    My daughter hates sleepovers. She said “Mom, they won’t go to sleep.” I’m like, yes, dear, that’s sort of the point. She just looks at me. “But I need my freaking sleep.” Such an oddly practical 13-year-old.

    And yes, the ponies have gotten progressively creepier and trampier. Sexy ponies? There is something very disturbing about their evolution there.

    1. I was the same way as your daughter! I always felt like such an oddball for getting tired at 10PM when the other girls were still rarin’ to go, and then waking at 7AM and just lying around in my sleeping bag for another couple hours waiting for them to get up. It almost made the whole experience not worth it for me. I was too rigid for my own good.

      1. Oh, yes that is my eldest for sure! There are RULES people, RULES! I remember getting ill at more than one sleepover because I was that much of a homebody, so I can’t really talk either. Meanwhile, the youngest loves sleepovers and wants one every single weekend. Her motto: ENTERTAIN ME.

  23. Sleepovers had no appeal to me whatsoever until high school when they took on a whole other connotation when being a lesbian teen worked to my advantage because parents in the 70s did not suspect ANYTHING. And I have no intention of writing anything further about that. Somewhat back to the topic or at least the Ouija board part of the discussion; those I remember well. At first, they scared the crap out of me, too, until my sister said they were pure nonsense, there was no force field spelling out anything, but just kids being mischievous intentionally pushing that planchette to spell out messages. That was one of the many great things about having a sister seven years my senior. She taught me how to be cynical.

  24. […] am participating in Ashley and Emily’s Summer Blog Hop. Their ongoing theme is Remember That Time… an opportunity to draw upon […]

  25. Emily, love this… as I can relate to every detail.
    I wrote a piece and finished at 9:45pm my time… when I went to the link on your page, to add mine, it said I had 14 minutes before admissions closed. However, it would not let me upload the link to my post. I added a ping back to both you and Ashley to my post; is there any way to add mine to the list? Not sure why it wouldn’t load, but I made several attempts, until it said admissions closed. Thanks for any help you can offer… Had fun writing this, either way. :-)

    1. Sorry for the whiney request… I was sitting in a bar in Olympia (the start of a song?) and hoping you were on, and would see it. I really enjoyed that last prompt, and regardless of making the list or not (and now I know to not push the time limit…) happy I joined. So many of the others were really fun to read too! You guys rock for putting this hop together! :-)

      1. Dawn – sorry to jump in here, but you and I would have had amazing sleep overs. Don’t you think? :D

        1. NO doubt! Still might… ;-)

          1. Yes. We will have our sleep over and it will be the bomb.

            1. I’m totally serious.

  26. My daughter LOVES the new My Little Pony comic books, but I don’t think she’s too jazzed about the cartoons.
    Great trip down memory lane, my beautiful friend!

  27. OMG! This was so satisfying and hilarious! I come from a different generation, Dawn and I would have had a sleep-over fo shizzle, but the activities and feelings are exactly the same. Just insert our generation’s Partridge Family, Spirograph and Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers and you have essentially the same thing. Time away. Time to enjoy being a free agent. Time to contact the “other world” with a Ouija Board. Yes, yes, and yes. The only thing we didn’t have were videos/ DVDs. Instead, we ran around the neighborhood and bothered people while scavenging.
    This was brilliant. A flood of memories.
    Thanks, Em!! xoxo

  28. […] to think of it, it was the girl who hosted the sleepover party where I almost got swallowed up into Hell. This girl is clearly becoming one of the supporting characters of my Remember the Time posts. That […]

  29. Firstly, I love that I can hold the magic talking stick. This post made me laugh SO MUCH. Its so true! Gangs of girls high on sugar is so not my thing, but at 10 I would have been devastated not to be invited to one of these parties.
    PS the new my little ponies? What the actual heroin went on there?!

  30. This is wonderful :-)

  31. My friends and I still participate in sleep-overs… but, nowadays they usually include alcohol ;)

  32. […] BLAAAAAAAARGH I love her. She is super delicious. She auditioned with this piece about childhood sleepover party. […]

  33. This is sooo funny. And I’ve TOTALLY been to the exact same sleepover!

    1. Thank you! Isn’t it funny how all slumber parties are kind of identical?

  34. Oh wow did I love this. I clicked on your post from Pile of Babies’ list of fellow Blogger Idol losers (ahem – I mean posts that were obviously amazing and therefore didn’t need to be included in the top 13) and I just love it with all my heart. I’m pretty sure we could have been at the same sleepover sometime in the past. Were you friends with the girl who kept her My Little Ponies in a pillowcase? She had good sleepovers. I don’t know why I never got lice there.

    1. Haha! Thanks! That little girl was a genius. Pillow cases are ready good for hoarding a lot of things other than pillows.

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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