Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Ah, slumber parties.

My daughter recently celebrated her tenth birthday and we had a few too many girls over for a slumber party. To be fair, though I was almost tearing my hair out by 2 am, this one was tame compared to slumber parties I attended as a kid.

The most memorable was at Pam's house, when we were in the fifth grade (probably 1979). I only remember seeing her mom at the beginning of the party and briefly in the morning (never even glimpsed her dad, who probably left the house for the night!). The rest of the time, we had the living room, kitchen, and dining room to ourselves and we spread our sleeping bags everywhere. We giggled when her cuter than hell 17 year old brother came through the house on his way to or from somewhere (17 was SO OLD! He was like, a MAN!). We watched silly stuff on TV, but no DVDs or VHS tapes OR cable. We made prank calls. One girl bragged about seeing the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High even though it was rated R. She told us about the scene where Phoebe Cates' character walks in on Judge Rheinhold's character in the bathroom. The girl telling us was giggling so hard that she never told us what was so funny, so we all assumed he was going to the bathroom and agreed that would be pretty embarrassing.

We played "Red Rum" in Pam's hall bathroom. You know, go into the darkened bathroom, shut the door, rub your eyes, look at the mirror and imagine you can see the words "red rum" on the mirror. ("Murder" backwards.) Scream like you are being killed until the girls let you out.

Then you HAVE to play that levitating game. One girl lies on the floor while the others gather around her, place only TWO fingers from each hand under her, then everyone chants "Light as a feather, stiff as a board" as she is magically lifted into the air. Everyone stays pretty serious until one girl realizes we really ARE lifting her with only two fingers on each hand and giggles, thus breaking the spell and spilling the poor girl to the floor. And everyone volunteers for it, amazingly.

The Oiuja board has to be busted out so that you can commune with lost souls. And mostly freak each other out. "It's moving, it's really MOVING!!!!! I'm NOT moving it!!!"

Someone's bra (tiny thing that it was then) has to be stolen, completely soaked in water, then thrown in the freezer while the rest of the girls act very innocent as to where said bra is. (Guess whose bra was stolen and frozen.)

First girl to fall asleep gets mustard between her toes and jalepeno juice on her lips. (Guess which girl fell asleep first.) Someone just has to put Redi-Whip on the toilet seat. (Guess which girl sat on the Redi-Whip at 4 am.)

Oh fun times.

Monday, December 06, 2004

I didn't catch the 60s.

I didn't get here in time. But I did catch the 70s. And that decade, from my kid point of view, was both wonderful and hellish.

What do you remember of the 70s?

My stepfather had given my younger brother and I his old record player that he was given in high school. It was the kind where you could latch the lid shut and it had a white plastic handle. He told us about taking it over to his friends' houses to play records and dance, hang out and smoke in the driveway. So we thought it was cool, and took it with wide-open eyes and our mouths dripping with thank yous. He also handed over his entire album collection, in a wooden Peaches Records and Tapes crate. His alcoholism was just starting to get bad at that point, and I think he was having morbid thoughts of his own end.

But as a kid, I had no idea of all this. I just knew I had in my possession something truly exotic. So on rainy days, my brother and I would plug it in, open it up and argue over which album to play first. We'd shut his door, in the hopes of not waking our mother, sleeping with Prince Valium. Would it be the Rolling Stones? The Beatles? Willie Nelson? The Temptations? Buddy Holly? Dr. Demento or Tom T. Hall?

The last two deserve special note. There we were, a five and seven year old, listening to and memorizing the words to Dr. Demento. "Dead Puppies" was one of our favorites, as was the song that went "They're coming to take me away, ho ho, hee hee, to the funny farm, where life is beautiful all the time...." "Fish Heads" was another favorite. You simply can't spend too much time singing loudly to Dr. Demento albums.

Tom T. Hall wrote a song called "I Like Beer." The chorus, our favorite part, goes like this:

I like beer.
It makes me a jolly good fellow, I like beer.
It helps me unwind and sometimes it makes me feel mellow (makes him feel mellow).
Whiskey’s too rough, champagne costs too much, vodka puts my mouth in gear.
This little refrain should help me explain as a matter of fact I like beer(he likes beer).

A good rousing bar song. THAT'S what little kids sang in the 70s!

The stepfather also gave us his 45s and the little adaptor thingie. His 45s were mostly from the 50s and early 60s and they were like curious museum pieces to us. Songs about a car stuck in second gear (beep, beep, good fun), a Purple People-Eater, a teeny tiny bikini and other assorted topics that made us really wonder about the 50s and 60s.

But occasionally we'd play one of the slower songs and I'd insist on teaching my little brother to slow dance, so he'd be popular with the girls one day. He'd protest, but then give in. Older sisters ALWAYS won.

He'd lay his head on my shoulder and I'd take in that wet puppy smell that all little boys must have and we'd just shuffle around on the green shag carpet in his room. Sooner or later, he'd realize he was dancing with his SISTER and he'd cut it out quickly. Then it was back to the funky stuff, jumping on his bed so hard we almost hit the ceiling with our heads, giggling ourselves sick while the rain poured outside.

Blogs are all the same, aren't they?

I mean, sure, a few stand out for their usefulness, or consistent humor, but for the most part, do you really want to read about what a total fricking stranger ate for lunch yesterday?

No, I resolve to have the most unread blog in the universe of blogs. I think it's a realistic goal.

I also resolve never to post an entry on what I just ate, or how cute my cat is.

Now, to get started. The main point of this blog is to tell stories of my life. Not my present life so much, but my past. I noticed when I have told people about my past, they either tear up and try to hug me, or laugh uncomfortably, or announce, "DAMN, THAT'S SOME MESSED UP SHIT!" I love the last reaction best. It makes me laugh. And I have to agree.

But first a story from my first year of teaching. I was teaching high school English in Georgia. Supposedly one of the best two high schools in the county. I was a stupid, young teacher and had a hard time keeping track of whether I already had a kid in the bathroom, so I said yes to one when I already had one out. Old building, old vents. Vents connected from bathroom to classroom. Soon my room smelled....herbal. Kids began to try to get a contact high. I went to the door of the boy's bathroom, asked the two of them to come out and a coach happened by. Not knowing the official procedure for dealing with pot smoking on campus (this was the early 90s), I asked him what to do. He puffed himself up, yelled at the kids, demanded they HAND IT OVER, which they did. He sent them huffily back to my class. I asked him what I should do now--write up a disciplinary report, what? He shoved the baggie of joints in his pocket, winked at me and said "Don't worry, I'll take care of it." He giggled and walked away. I stood there stunned for a moment. The coaches....got their stash....from the kids.

Don't worry, people. I'm just getting started.