I can’t believe it. Elise didn’t show up for my slumber party. And she didn’t call either. Supposedly, her mother phoned my father at the office on Friday afternoon to let him know that Elise wouldn’t be able to make it to my birthday party this year, but that was it. No explanation. No excuse. No apology. Nothing.
When my father told me that she wasn’t coming, I wanted to call the whole thing off. How could I possibly celebrate my birthday without my oldest friend? Elise has been to every single birthday party I have ever had!
But, despite some very intense begging and pleading, my father refused to let me cancel the sleepover. “You haven’t had any of your friends over to the house since school started,” he said. And, he was right. I just haven’t wanted to spend time with any of my friends since I had my epiphany.
Who wants to hang around with a bunch of people who wear pity on their sleeve like it’s some sort of fashion accessory?
Unfortunately, I didn’t seem to have much choice. At quarter to seven on Friday evening, the doorbell started to ring. And it didn’t stop ringing until seven-ten, when the last of my five guests had arrived.
At the beginning, the evening seemed doomed. First, Elise cancelled on me. Then, Ellen’s mother walked her daughter and her suffocating cloud of pity to the door so that she could say hello to me, “because we haven’t seen you at the house in so long.” (I haven’t been back over there since “the note.”) I thought that I was going to gag on the fumes of pity she left in her wake. Needless to say, the whole “slumber party compromise” suddenly seemed like a really big mistake.
But, thankfully, Ellen, Emily, Natalie, Leah, and Stacey all decided to leave their pity at home for the night. Once Ellen’s mother left, there wasn’t a cloud in sight. And, much to my surprise, the party was a success after all (by “success” I mean that it was perfectly normal in every way).
First, we had pizza for dinner (plain and pepperoni). Then, we had birthday cake. And, then, my father set out five different kinds of ice cream (vanilla, chocolate-chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip, coffee, and strawberry) and about a zillion toppings so that we could make our own ice cream sundaes.
And even though Natalie and Emily both claimed to be on diets (DIETS!! How insane!!), we all filled our bowls to the brim with ice cream and piled on the toppings. I had mint chocolate chip ice cream with hot fudge and a mound of real whipped cream.
After we’d licked our bowls clean, we went into the playroom and put our sleeping bags in a circle with our heads facing inward, toward one another, so that no one would feel left out. Once that was done, we just hung out for a while and talked about school and stuff. But, before long, Emily and Leah started droning on and on about all the “cute boys” in our class (yuck). I was desperately trying to figure out a way to change the subject, when my father suddenly called us back into the kitchen for a surprise art project.
My father had cleaned up what was left of the cake and ice cream, and put sheets of newspaper out all over the kitchen. As we entered the room, he handed each one of us a large white t-shirt and a bag of rubber bands. We were going to tie-dye. There were five buckets of different colored dyes lined up in the middle of the kitchen. And, after my father gave us all a lesson on the fine art of twisting and tying, and tips on dipping and dying (where in the world did he ever learn such a skill?), we got to work.
I must admit that, at first, I was kind of annoyed with my dad for not consulting with me before planning the whole tie-dye thing. I guess that I was afraid that my friends would think that they were too grown up to do an “arts and crafts” project. But, you know what? He really pulled it off. I mean, I don’t know where he got the idea, but it certainly was different. And my friends all thought that it was really cool.
They also thought that my dad was really cool. Which – I hope – will result in their pitying me a lot less in the future. Because, I think that if they would all just stop feeling sorry for me, then my life could go back to normal (and I could stop being so obsessed with my status as “the girl with the dead mother”).
Anyway, by the time we were done putting the finishing touches on our masterpieces it was almost midnight. So, after dumping out the unused dye, and collecting the newspaper that he’d spread all over the floor, my father said goodnight and went upstairs to bed.
After he left, we all changed into t-shirts and sweatpants. And, then, we turned off the lights and played “Light As A Feather/Stiff As A Board.” One person lies flat on her back with her arms at her side. The rest of the group gathers around, and puts two fingers from each hand under her. And, then, everyone – except the person lying on the floor – chants, “light as a feather, still as a board” over and over again. And, amazingly, we are able to suddenly lift the girl high in the air as if she’s “light as a feather” even though, of course, she isn’t. If you’ve never tried it, you should. It’s pretty neat.
After that, we got in a circle and played “Truth” for a while. But, it wasn’t as much fun as it could have been because Emily and Leah just wanted to talk about boys again. After a while, one by one, we dropped off to sleep.
It felt as if we had only just closed our eyes when my father woke us with the smell of pancakes and the sound of happy kitchen activity. Exhausted, but suddenly starving, we dragged ourselves to the table and wolfed down the pancakes as fast as my father could cook them. After that, we went back into the playroom and everyone got changed and packed, and the girls were all gone by ten-fifteen (their tie-dyed t-shirts blowing behind them like flags in the wind).
After they left, I helped my father clear up the breakfast dishes. When we were done, I thanked him for a great party. Then, I went upstairs, dragging my gifts (five cuddly stuffed animals) along with me.