I am actually typing this myself and not dictating from a room without sharp objects. In short, the party is over, seemed to be successful and was relatively painless. But, best of all, it was the last one! The kids can have a single friend sleep over in the future, but as far as sleepover parties go – screw that! We are done.
The plan was for the boy to spend the night at his best friend’s house, and spare him from what would surely be misery (it would have been). About an hour before I was to take him, the dad called and said he was doing the responsible thing and informing us of his wife’s official flu diagnosis earlier in the day. Peachy. Now, I knew the extent to which I dreaded those girls coming over, so could easily empathize with what a 10-year old would feel were I to tell him he had to stay.
I listened to the dad, a good friend, explain the medical situation. I offered the appropriate level of sympathy, but really only cared whether or not my son could still come over (better to deal with a miserable child with fever and diarrhea than listening to endless bitching about girls messing with his shit). The answer was yes since his wife was going to sequester herself in their bedroom while he bleach-bombed the rest of the house. Whew!
As proof of how horrible it would have been had he been forced to stay, on the way to drop him off, he insisted that we turn around because he thought he had not locked his bedroom door (he hadn’t). When I refused, he demanded that I call the house and ask his mother to check. I didn’t do that either but assured him I would check when I got back (I didn’t but his sister had – awwww). I dropped him off in the hot zone and headed for home, resisting the urge to stop in a bar for several hours.
As I pulled into the driveway I could see through the front door that there were already four of the “guests” there. The fifth was walking toward the door just ahead of me. My daughter flung open the door and that’s when it hit me. Had our front door been made of crystal it would have shattered. A piercing wall of sound that quite literally took my breath for a moment. The volume wasn’t constant, but it didn’t matter. The baseline noise was like a industrial saw spinning furiously, drown out only when the blade cut into steel. This went on for 60 minutes virtually without a single lull. Brutal.
Of course, this shrieking was not done while stationary. No, no, they dashed and darted through the house playing any number of variations of Tag, most of which involved one or all of them heaving themselves on to the new couch, which they were explicitly asked not to do. Even my daughter was in on that rule and could be heard on several occasions imploring her guests to “not jump on the couch”. Had she been channeling her mother she would have said, “Don’t jump on the couch, assholes!”
I’ll introduce the cast since pronoun overuse is boring and confusing. First, of course, there’s my daughter. The others are all from her school. Obviously, to protect me, the names have been changed. We have…
Laura Ingalls – a precocious, athletic girl who is quite funny. Her volume goes to 11.
Cindy Brady – I named her after a character who had her good points but was generally irritating. ‘Nuff said?
Violet Beauregard – loud, large,no filter, doesn’t follow instructions, would benefit from liberally administered corporal punishment. I had no prior exposure to her.
Lucy van Pelt – mostly sweet, smart girl but I’m not sure I’d let her hold the football.
Sally Brown – sweet, quiet, missed her Mom, slow to join the chaos
When reminded by Mom to please not “jump on my new couch”, Violet responded with a snotty, “How new? Where did you get it?” (a swift backhand right then would have set a good tone for her). The screaming and running continued, and the new couch slid closer to the wall with each body that crashed into it.
We noticed that Sally was being a wallflower, watching the craziness with a look that said, “I would prefer to be somewhere else” After pulling her aside, she began to cry and said she missed home and didn’t want to stay. Wifey turned on her Mommy charm, calmed her down and got her to only as long as she wanted. No pressure. A recent grandparent’s death had her worried about being away from Mom and Dad, but I think it more likely it was something Violet did. Hell, I wanted to leave when she walked in the door.
Meanwhile, Bear, our 100+ lb, slightly neurotic but always sweet dog was starting to show signs that he wanted to put a stop to all the insanity. That or he was heading for a nervous breakdown. Since he outweighed all the guests (except for probably Violet, of course), we sent him to our room after Mom shoved a Xanax down his gullet.
After 90 minutes of brain-shattering screaming, pizza was ordered and the bar opened. Finally, with mouths stuffed with pizza, the cacophony began to lessen. Mom & Dad were able to sigh deeply and really enjoy the alcohol going to work. As the ringing in our ears faded, we sipped our wine and listened in on some of the 9-year old dinner conversation in the next room.
Farts. Farting. Farted. That’s what they talked about. Boys who farted in class. Girls who farted in class. Who farted at the table just then. Who denied farting at the table or in class. It went on and on and on and on. We listened in, semi-amazed that they were actually taking up this much time talking about it. Predictably, some contributed more to the conversation than others (Violet), but my darling daughter had plenty to say, too.
Time for cake and ice cream. The birthday girl wanted chocolate with chocolate icing (that’s my girl!), so I picked up a lovely 9″ triple layer cake. More than enough for six 9-year olds and ample room for nine candles.
Light candles. Carry to dining room. Begin song. Finish song. Place cake in front of smiling birthday girl.
“That’s a really small cake”, Violet says.
Screw the backhand. I was thinking jab, jab, uppercut, cross. See what I mean by no filter? What kind of kid disses the birthday girl’s cake before the candles are blown out? The kind that doesn’t get asked over again. Brat.
I was told to pick up some ice cream for the cake. I’m an ice cream snob (along with hot dogs and pizza), but I wasn’t going to waste B&J’s New York Super Fudge Chunk on six girls who furiously shovel it into their faces just so they can ask for more. And I can’t bring myself to just buy vanilla no matter who makes it because what’s the point. So, I threw aside my snobbish standards and bought that birthday party classic, Neapolitan. You’d have thought I brought out a half-gallon of uncooked haggis. “What is that?” and “That is gross. Who would eat that?”
I didn’t like telling my wife to shut-up in front of the kids but, Christ on a crutch!, it’s just strawberry ice cream!! The girls didn’t complain. Too much.
They got into their PJ’s and then moved on to the ceremony of presents. Sally had decided to stay, which was good because her relative quietness, theoretically, offset the din from the others, especially Laura and Violet. Plus she’s a sweet kid.
Video I took of presents being opened consisted of back of heads. The girls were literally 6 inches from whatever present was being opened, so memorable photo ops were few for that part of the party. After that, bedtime was in sight. They settled into their sleeping bags and I told them 10:00 was fast-approaching, so it was time to wind down. Had I know it would be another three hours before they went the fuck to sleep, I would have had a lot more to drink.
Periodic checks of goings-on downstairs revealed traditional sleepover rituals like sitting in a circle talking about crushes (3rd grade??), and non-traditional like resuming the activity they had started some 6 hours earlier. By now, it was pushing midnight and even though I didn’t actually listen to their crush stories, I told them if they didn’t go to sleep I would reveal all of them on the next school day. That worked and I went back to bed.
“It’s After 1:00!! Go To Sleep!”
Yup. That was me. The grumpy father who’d had enough. The grumpy father I could never have imagined I’d be when I was 9. Guess who was up, jumping around and generally being an ass? Right, Violet. She said something to me about making noise and I assured her that I could yell louder than all of them put together. She stood in the middle of the floor and started to say something. I glared at her and said, “Violet. Be. Quiet. And. Go. To. Sleep.”
Silence is indeed golden.
The murmur of voices started about 7:00. Better than I had hoped. It didn’t get loud enough for us to get out of bed until about 7:45. They were to be picked up at 9. Just over one hour to go.
I made some kick-ass blueberry pancakes – fluffy, perfectly browned, ample size. On the table was warmed, real Vermont syrup (not that they’d notice). Crisp, thick bacon was put on each plate along with a delicious pancake; a plate placed before each child.
“I don’t like blueberries” rushed out of Violet’s mouth before the next plate hit the table.
“I don’t either”, said Lucy.
“Who doesn’t like blueberries?!”, I huffed from the kitchen. “Who the fuck…” really and truly almost came out.
I just sucked it up as I watched 50% of them pick at my pancakes like I made them with flies. Violet wound up being in the half that ate them. “They’re pretty good”, she said, as she polished off her second one and second helping of bacon, thus proving that she’s just a brat that likes to complain about everything. We don’t know the parents well, so she could just be a difficult child. Still, I doubt very much we’ll be spending much time with her parents socially.
“Ding-Dong”! 9:00! Hot damn. It’s 9:00. They were all gone by 9:10. It was over. Yeah, yeah, it wasn’t a total nightmare, I know. Nevertheless, it’s the last one.