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:
NOT this kind. Eweweeweweweweeweewwerffdsgdfjkgbdfkjghdxjfhl
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.
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.
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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