Sunday, December 11, 2011

Whatever you do, don't fall asleep

My four year old niece wanted to have at least one 'sleep-over' as she called it when she visited here from Virginia over the summer.  In her case, that just meant staying at her 5 year old cousin's house overnight or, possibly, even staying at my house or Pam's apartment for one night.  I don't really remember staying at anyone's house, outside of family, at that age but I was really into slumber parties later on. 

Pam and I always asked for a slumber party for our birthdays instead of just a regular birthday party.  Our parents, especially our mother, allowed us to have one about once per year.  It meant a lot of work for Mom since she usually ordered a big sheet cake, made sandwiches and had lots of snacks and sodas available.  Of course, our friends all came with their pajamas and presents for the birthday girl.  Some even had their mothers make a treat to bring with them.

After we had eaten dinner, opened presents and cut the cake, the real fun started.  My parents always made it a point to stay upstairs in their bedroom for most of the night.  Also, our two younger sisters, Carol and Heidi (who had their own parties when they got older) were, mercifully, kept out of the way since Pam and I considered them persona non grata at our slumber parties.

I've always wondered how they got the name slumber party since the idea was usually to stay awake all night, eating, playing games, playing tricks on each other and talking incessantly -- usually about boys.  There was never much sleeping going on.  We always had music blasting and it consisted of a real mix.  From Bobby Sherman to Santana to the Cowsills, the Beatles and the Stones plus the one-hit wonders.  Songs like Tommy Roe's "Dizzy" and "Red Rubber Ball."   It was all on vinyl, of course.  Lots of 45's included.  One of the albums that was really popular during this time was by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.  A friend had the album we all called "Whipped Cream" because there was a girl on the cover wearing nothing but what was supposed to be whipped cream.  Our favorite song from the album was their cover of "Love Potion No.9."  We loved to pretend to strip to that one.  Considering that most of us wore bras that weren't much more than two triangles and some elastic bands, there wouldn't have been much for anyone to see even if any boys had tried to crash the party.  (My dad was always on the look-out for that.)  My choice of bra ran to white like the one pictured on the left.  I was a purist.    

I remember one party where we spent a lot of time practicing standing on our heads because that's one of the things we were currently doing in P.E. class -- that and tumbling.  It was great until someone threw up.  That kind of put a damper on the fun.  At another party, a girl showed up with her little brother's can of Silly String.  My friend Kathy ended up with it all over her hair.  That must have been around the time Silly String first came out because it only came in white then.  What a mess.  None of our parents were crazy about having that stuff around.

We also engaged in more somber activities like seances.  It didn't take much to scare most of us.  A couple of girls were usually freaked out just from turning out the lights before we'd even started.  I have no idea how our parents lived through the screams.  Occasionally we'd try to 'lift' someone.  This consisted of one girl being the 'body' and laying on her back (in the dark, of course) while the rest of us gathered around her and put the index and middle fingers from both hands of each of us underneath her.  Then we all concentrated on feeling that whoever was being lifted was 'light' and attempted to pick her up with our fingers.  Depending on the size of the girl, sometimes we could get her a couple of inches off the floor before we dropped her.

Another game we loved to play was Blind Man's Bluff.  Not only would we blindfold the girl who was 'it' but then we turned off all the lights to make it even harder for everyone.  This was a great game because there were always girls who simply could not keep from either giggling, squealing or even screaming when the 'it' girl came towards them with her arms outstretched trying to tag someone.  This game was also tricky because it was the activity most likely to cause damage in the house of whoever was having the party.  The worst thing I can ever remember happening at my house happened during a game of Blind Man's Bluff.  In that particular house, our family room and breakfast nook were all part of one long room.  The food was on the breakfast table but we had moved it to the sides because a couple of girls decided to run across the top of the table to get away from whoever was 'it.'  It was bound to happen -- the center of the table where a leaf usually went gave way and the table collapsed in the middle.  It looked like the letter 'M.'  Pam and I were freaking out.  My parents didn't hear it crash (their bedroom was at the other end of the house) so we were all trying to think of a way to fix it.  Since a couple of the wood pegs that connected the 2 sides of the table were damaged, it wouldn't stand on it's own.  This called for duct tape.  Luckily, my dad kept some around.  I snuck out to the utility room and brought back a big roll.  Several of us held the table up and together while I went under it and taped it up nice and tight.

We wrote a note explaining what happened.  Of course, we lied.  We said that the table just fell when one of us leaned across it to get a snack from the other side.  The next morning we were all asleep when I woke up to the sound of my dad (I was very still and slightly opened one eye to see him) reading the note, muttering to himself and then looking under the table at the tape job.  We all felt awful, especially Pam and me, but we stuck to our story.  My parents didn't push it since they couldn't really prove anything.

However, that wasn't the end of it.  Over the years they had various ways of punishing us.  We were usually grounded, but one Christmas Mom and Dad gave Pam and me our own TV for our room.  It was heaven.  Nineteen inches of black and white on a rolling cart.  We loved it.  Our parents probably did too since we left them to watch the bigger TV in the living room.  But they also found that taking it away from us for awhile was a great way to punish us.  If we were in the doghouse, we'd wait for the inevitable sound of  'roll, eek, roll, eek' as one of them rolled it out of our room until they decided our punishment was over.  This was bad.  It meant we had to watch TV in the living room.  With the family.          

I was usually pretty good at staying awake most of the night or sometimes all night because of what would happen to the first girl who fell asleep.  She'd wake up the next morning and find her bra frozen in the freezer.
I remember one party at my house where my friend Angie was the first to drop off and we found her training bra, got it nice and wet in the sink, then squeezed out the water, rolled it into a ball and stuck it as far back in the freezer as possible.  The next morning, she had to put it in our dryer.  Because it was so thin, it got pretty icy.  You could hear the thunk, thunk of it rattling around in the dryer but, luckily, it dried pretty quickly.  As for me, I never took any chances, I slept in mine.

The incident with the breakfast table was one of the last slumber parties I remember having.  I don't think it was because of the table as much as we were getting older and wanted to start having boys at our birthday parties, too.  Still, the table may have figured into that decision somewhat.  The inevitable happened.

'Roll, eek, roll, eek...'


  1. I went to a lot of pajama parties but I don't remember very many specifics. We were a pretty well-behaved group for the most part. We had snacks, watched TV, listened to records, tried out new hairstyles, talked about boys, and yes, tried to stay awake as long as possible. If there were punishments for those who fell asleep early I don't remember them, but I'm sure they weren't as drastic as bra-freezing. Oh, yes, and using the Ouija board. (Are you pushing? I'm not pushing.)

  2. Oooh! I forgot about the Ouija board! Lots of fun with that. :)