I have a childhood memory that doesn’t surface often, but it surfaces with regularity, and when it does, it is vivid.
It is a memory of a night I spent at a friend’s house when I was in middle school.
It still gives me the shivers…
A favorite pastime for young girls everywhere is the sleepover, and I was no exception. It starts at about third grade and continues until college, and sometimes into adulthood for various reasons.
It is a time to share dirty little secrets, discuss who we like and don’t, bond while our favorite pop star squawks in the background, and ultimately catapult our relationship to BFF status.
This particular sleepover, however, didn’t go quite that way and to this day still haunts me….
I had become friends with a girl who I didn’t know well, but had always seemed to be “waiting in the wings” ready and available to swoop in when my “best” friend hated me. She was the “rebound” friend. Sounds crazy, but all girls have one. It’s the girl who isn’t really popular and kind of keeps to herself
preying on praying for the day two best buddies will have a falling out so she can step in to sop up all the hurt feelings and insert herself into your life. It happens all the time with girls. One day you have a best friend, and the very next day they are sticking their tongue out at you upon your arrival at school–true story.
Well, during one of those times, I gravitated toward this particular girl, and she invited me to come home with her from school one Friday night and stay over.
Sounds great, right?
I honestly don’t remember all that the afternoon entailed because it was probably just a normal afternoon, but that night and the next day is what I will never forget. It is a sort of series of happenings that were just weird.
That evening we were getting ready for bed and changing into pajamas. I threw my jeans on the back of a chair in her room and went to brush my teeth. When I came back from brushing my teeth, I jumped and then froze at what I saw.
There were a couple of roaches meandering about on the jeans that I had just left on the chair.
When I looked to my friend with horror, she irritatedly said, “What?”
I said, “There are roaches crawling on my jeans!”
Still no reaction. Oh good Lord was all I could think. Here she was offended that I was freaking out about roaches crawling on my jeans.
I looked back to the jeans as the little critters (who had apparently invited some buddies to join them) were currently inspecting my jean’s pockets. I stifled a shiver and a “yulchk” sound, looked back to her, and to my second wave of horror saw more roaches crawling on the bed she was now in and I was about to be in.
Holy crap this isn’t happening!
Clearly the roaches were not guests. They were housemates, and she was embarrassed and trying to act like she wasn’t. I approached the bed to get in just in time for her to introduce me to her friend, “Fred,” that was now crawling on top of her hand.
(I am itching as I write this.)
I stifled another shiver and “yulchk” sound and slowly (never taking my eyeballs off of “Fred”) slipped deep into the covers desperately hoping there were no more “friends” under the covers since that would be where my entire body would be residing for the remainder of the sleep portion of this sleepover.
I thought I would never get to sleep, but it finally came after the continuous loop of thought about Fred using my ear canal as a nest during the night stopped, and I was momentarily relieved of my angst.
When morning came, I eagerly jumped out of bed, quietly gave my jeans a very good shakedown, and covered my entire body with all the clothes I could put on. I quickly went to the kitchen to call my mother so she could come and rescue me from this critter cage.
When I rounded the corner, my friend greeted me with, “Make me French toast.”
My plan to leave immediately would have to wait.
I felt like I was being held captive, and if I didn’t do what she wanted, I may never be heard from again. Clearly she was crazy. I just wished I had realized that before agreeing to being taken away from The Land of Normal and taken to The Land of Strange.
I hesitantly looked around the kitchen wondering which roach infested cabinet to open first, and to my dismay she went straight to a door that surprise number two was behind, reached in and grabbed a lard covered iron skillet that she thrust into my hands.
As I swallowed back the vomit making its way to my mouth and an overwhelming wave of nausea, I made the mistake of saying the obvious.
“There’s lard in it…and several roaches just ran out of it”
Again, she came back with that indignant attitude and said, “You mean my friends? We don’t wash dishes because it takes too long and you are just going to use them again.” That was followed by a small laugh and a death stare that had me quickly looking for the eggs and bread.
Oh my gurd.
I made her the French toast and asked her if she would like me to clean the pan. When she took the pan from my hands and put it back under the counter, I realized that was a ridiculous question.
After that trauma, I was ever so eager to call my mother, but that wasn’t part of the plan just yet since the next show was just about to start.
As I was putting away the last of the dirty dishes, she called me into the living room where I was again given yet another command. This time she told me to find the channel Menudo came on. Menudo (in case you weren’t a thirteen or fourteen year old girl at the time) was a Puerto Rican boy band that was in their height of success.
It was Saturday morning, and this is when Menudo would come on television and sing their little Latino hearts out; and this girl was obsessed with them.
I quickly started flipping through channels, and when I looked up to see her angry little face I realized she had most likely already done that, so I frantically went to search the TV Guide and (Whew!) found the listing. I turned to that channel and to my dismay, there were no pubescent singing Puerto Ricans to be found anywhere.
She decided to call her mother at work. The phone conversation went something like this.
Her: “I can’t find Menudo on TV!”
Her mother: “Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah” (All I could hear was the same sound Charlie Brown’s teacher made.)
Her: “You better come home and fix this NOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW!!!!!”
Her mother: “Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah”
Her: “You better figure it out or I’m going to kill you!!!!” (In an ear shattering scream followed by a fast ball pitch of the phone across the room.)
Are you kidding me? I mean, they were cute, but not scream at your mother like a little #%$*! cute.
Me: “Check please.”
I went to go pick up the phone she hurled across the room, and I called my mother.
As I waited eternally for my mother to rescue me from Satan, she had one more surprise for me.
When I came out of her roach motel with my bag on my shoulder, she stood between me and the door with a can of hairspray in one hand and a lighter in the other.
Oh dear Jesus help me.
She said she wanted to show me something.
“You mean there’s more?” (I’m going to die here.)
Then she proceeded to take the can of hairspray and spray a large circle on a wooden door. She took the lighter, and she lit the circle.
As I’m watching with wonder the flames lick the door frame mocking and taunting me, telling me I won’t ever see my mother again, and seeing her laugh like an evil villain that had just blown up an entire city, I realized that she had not been the best “go to” person when my mean little best friend and I were on the “outs” after all. Oh, how I missed my mean little friend.
As I feel the tears of defeat welling up behind my eyes, I hear the distant sound of gravel crunching beneath the tires of a car slowly pulling into the driveway.
There may be hope. This had to be either my rescue wagon or her mother coming to make Satan happy.
It was my mom.
I can’t even begin to do justice in describing the pure feeling of relief as I rode away in the safety of my mother’s car farther and farther away from the sadistic likings of one little she devil.
And what I realized after that sinister sleepover, was that having no friends at all was better than making a deal with the devil anytime.