One of my best girlfriends moved away about 20yrs ago. We caught up with each other over the weekend and laughed for an hour reliving our night of The Slumber Party. I have to tell you all the story…, at least part of it.
It was a perfect storm of coincidences.
Because we owned a B&B, it was almost impossible to take a vacation. By the time Gunner was 3yrs old, we planned to take an extended Labor Day vacation. Therefore, for months, when guests called to book reservations for that weekend, I politely declined, hoping they would understand and stay with us in the future. Every reservation I cancelled meant lost income and made me wince. On top of that, my husband owned a construction company. Although taking time off was not as serious for him, it left him apprehensive. Nonetheless, we had decided. Vacation it was.
At the same, my stepson’s boy scout troop had their big outing to Shiloh Battlefields scheduled. It was the BIG annual trip for the troop, planned for months. Troops from 5 states would attend, a big meet for the boy scouts.
At the last minute, three Dad’s backed out of the weekend, meaning the troop could not go. My husband received a desperate call to chaperone from the current troop-master. Understand, my husband WAS the troop’s Scout Master but resigned after an argument from an over-bearing mother….. whom today we would call…….a…… “Karen”. And my step son was looking forward to the trip……
Vacation = foiled.
By Friday afternoon, I had packed the boys, added a few treats to their stores, and waved goodbye to the bus. I walked home, the troop building is just down the street from our house. I kicked stones along the street, thinking about the spa massage I would miss, and the chance to put on a decent pair of Cinderella slippers for a magical evening with my husband. Oh well.
At home, it was just the baby and me. Gunner was toddling, but not verbal enough for a decent conversation….. and he slept a lot. It sure was quiet in that big ole house……. Alone….. I went to bed early.
Next morning, I was up like a shot. I wandered into the kitchen, but had no breakfast to make and no guests to talk to…. More wandering around my big empty house…… I went out to the gardens, but had pretty much made them ready for me to be gone for days….. And it was sooooooo quiet. I came back up the yard to the side porch to sit awhile….. but there was no one at the school….. and barely a car on the streets.
By 8:00am, I was bored out of my mind.
I called Heather and she popped over for a few minutes. We sat on the side porch. “What do you want to do?”, she said. “I don’t know, but we need to do something big. Husband gone…. no guests….. when will I ever get a chance like this again?”, I replied. “You wanna go shopping? Maybe to Memphis?”, she queried. I wrinkled my nose, “Not with the baby.”, and “What do we really need?”. Retail shopping was never a form of therapy for me.
As we sat and talked, I told her about how big and quiet the house was at night….. kind of eerie. “OHHhhhhhhhh,” she said, “We need to have a slumber party.” My eyes flashed. Why couldn’t the moms have a slumber party? The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. We started calling other friends to join us.
- Me to Girlfriend #2: We’re having a girl slumber party at my house tonight. You wanna come?
- Girlfriends 2,3, 4, 5, 6: Daughn, that sounds like a great idea and I would love to, but I have the kids Daughn…. and you know Jack/Joe/David/John/Mark….. if I leave those kids in his hands to party at your house all night….. I might as well call a divorce lawyer…..
Back to the side porch with Heather. We hit a stumbling block. We thought about it for a minute, and called the two daughters of one girlfriend most of us used as babysitters. We bribed them to spend the night and handle ALL our kids. It worked. We called back….
- Me to Girlfriends 2-20: Slumber party at my house tonight. Bring your kids if you need to, we worked out a babysitter who is spending the night with the kids.
- Girlfriends 2-20: OMG, that sounds like fun. What can I bring????? What do you need???? What are we going to do????
Back to the side porch with Heather. We needed a menu. I would make it simple, big batch of spaghetti, big salad, garlic bread. Another batch of plain spaghetti and chicken nuggets for the kids. Simple menu, don’t bring anything. That way we won’t have to figure out whose casserole dish I have. I decided to make Mai-Tais as the house drink for the evening in a big bucket. They were blue, fuzzy, pretty, and besides, I happened to remember I had a gross of those lil paper umbrellas left over from a party. Perfect choice.
- Me: Umpteen phone calls back to Girlfriends 2-20. Food was settled, bring an overnight bag, bring your kids and their overnight bag, WE’RE HAVING A SLUMBER PARTY.
- Girlfriends 2-20: Ooooo, that sounds like fun. What are we going to do?
- Me: It’s a surprise……
Back to the side porch with Heather. We needed something to do. My mother was crazy as a loon but gave fabulous parties. She had a rule = Anyone can provide good food and liquor, but you have to give your guests something to do, something which engages them. I always followed Mom’s rule of party giving. We needed something unusual….. to do.
We thought and thought…. we sat and drank tea, and thought some more. I paced the porch…. Came up with one idea.
Every southern women would have loved to have been a Homecoming Queen… and many of my friends were. But let’s admit it, we all wanted to ride atop the back of a convertible and wave……. right? Parade wave??? Come on, admit it. It’s a little guilty pleasure. I would give my girlfriends, ALL OF THEM, the chance to be a Homecoming Queen.
A quick trip to the Farmer’s Coop and we enlisted Pork Chop, my seed salesmen, who was young/single and happened to drive a ’66 Red Cadillac Convertible with white buck leather interior. He was going to be our driver. Throughout the afternoon, I made Homecoming Queen sashes out of wide ribbon and glitter paint. Perfect. Pork Chop was thrilled with the idea – He would be at our house at 6:00pm sharp, to drive bands of women, a few at a time, all around town.
But we needed something else….. something really good. Girlfriend and I thought hard. “What are we all afraid of?”, I said. Heather was confused. I explained, “If we’re all afraid of the same thing, then we have courage when we are all together and can overcome it.” She was still a little confused and I wasn’t explaining it well, but replied, “I don’t know, but I remember a slumber party with my cousins one time….. they played with a Ouija Board and I SWEAR that damn thing moved.” Perfect idea…., something mystical, we expanded on it.
Since we’re in the middle of the Bible Belt, all my girlfriends were honorable Christian women. All of us had been to New Orleans at some point, and frowned at anything related to voodoo or mystical. We didn’t cross that line. Yet, the idea was whirling in my head….. a slumber party…… and a lil’ bit of a walk on the wild side….. would be perfect, especially if we were all together…… and it was our secret.
I looked at Heather and said, “We need to find a gypsy, with a crystal ball………… to tell our fortunes….. It would be so cool….. and a little dangerous…..”
Her face spasmed a little, “You can’t do that!!”, she said, and then she thought about it. Her face wiggled some more, then she said, “Where in the hell are you going to find a gypsy in northern Mississippi????”
Yeah, finding a gypsy with a crystal ball, who was mildly convincing, in northern Mississippi, who did not already have plans for a big Holiday weekend…….. with about 6hrs notice…. that was going to be a stretch.
But I found one.
Only one problem…. She had to bring her baby with her as she could not find a babysitter. I laughed, like it was meant to be. We were all moms anyway.
Throughout the day, other girlfriends phoned Heather, “What is Daughn up to? I thought they were supposed to be out of town this weekend? How come she’s having a slumber party? Why didn’t I get invited?” Word got out……. “Did you know Daughn is having a gypsy at her party tonight????” The news spread like a wildfire. The women were having a party. We picked up a few stragglers, and the party grew a little bit.
We also planned a few games for the kids while moms were driving around town and playing with the gypsy. We wanted the kids outside, playing, and incredibly tired so they would all fall asleep early and not give the babysitters too much trouble. That worked out quite well.
The girls all arrived around 5:00pm. They all settled in and the kids were THRILLED. A little nosh tray for hors d’oeurves and we plunged headlong into the Mai-tais and white wine. I even had funny green glasses which looked like Easter Island statues. We went with the theme…
The girls had a blast pinning on their Homecoming sashes. I had assorted crowns, left over from another party. No problem. They drove all around town with Pork Chop – I swear I think he spent all afternoon washing and waxing that car just for us. We fawned all over him. We all took turns and everyone in town wondered what in the heck was going on this weekend that they were missing…. Funny. Nothing was going on, it was just us. They went all over the country club, through down town, grocery store parking lots, waving at everyone.
We had dinner, but by 8:00pm, I announced that we had a special treat.
The gypsy had arrived.
We set her up in our library….. It was fun, hilarious, and kind of spooky at the same time, confident and rational women – tip-toing into the library.
Our library has 9’6″, 7 panel oak sliding doors. Inside, two walls have enormous windows, but it was dark outside. One wall has beautiful tall oak bookcases which are rounded on top. The desk, husband’s desk, is a semi-circle, old oak, looked like it came from an English Lord/Spanish Conquistador or a Pirate Ship, with faded olive green leather inserts. The desk sits perfectly between the two bookcases. We put the gypsy behind the desk…….. crystal ball in the middle atop her red silk scarf……. and two enormous silver candelabras on both sides of her with LONG tapered candles as the only light in the room. I could not have done any better if it had been a Hollywood movie set.
One by one, we all filed into the library to spend a few minutes with the gypsy and have our fortunes told. Some of my girlfriends were reluctant “You know what the bible says about this….“, but they did it in good fun. They all came out and compared notes with each other. Half them, mildly believing what she said. I laughed. By the time it was my turn to go in, the gypsy’s baby was fussy. She told me I was a naturally happy person and had no problems. Oh well….. She was a good actress and played her part perfectly. She even had olive skin and long dark hair.
After the gypsy left we drifted to the game room, which is a hazard. There is no clock in the game room and the space has strange powers. It’s some kind of a time warp and it’s a consistent problem. We laughed and drank. We ate chips and drank more Mai Tais. We told stories about parents, relatives, husbands, kids….each other…… and my sides hurt from laughing so much. At times, we had to go outside to catch our breath from laughing too hard. If we went to the bathroom, we couldn’t close the door, cuz we might miss part of a story…….. We shared secrets, things we NEVER told anyone else. We shared fears, stupid things, but it was okay. No one judged. I’m laughing right now, just thinking about it. We howled with laughter, and slapped each other to stop laughing. There is one person, here in town, I can’t look at but laugh, 20 years later, because of what was said that night. It was a weird evening, but we all remember it in the same way.
Years later, when we talk about that night, we give each other a knowing nod. Our eyes light up, and we can’t help but grin.
A few of the women drifted back to the house to sleep – could not stand up anymore, too tired. A few walked home, as NONE of us were any condition to drive. One girlfriend had to cross Main Street to walk home. I told her I would call her husband and tell him to expect her – that way if she didn’t make it, we would go looking for her. I picked up the phone to call Sam, her husband, and apologized for calling late, but told him Deb was on the way home and be on the lookout for her. I thought I called him about 10:30pm from the game room phone. It was 4:30 in the morning…… She never made it home, stopped at the end of the driveway and came back, too confused to figure out how to get home. I called Sam and told him she was back at our house. Sam chided me for years about that one….
The girlfriend who has now moved away, one of them, told a funny story about her husband which was the best story of the night. I am cackling with laughter, right now, just thinking about it. I can’t repeat it, dammit. It’s a secret. Just like the boys were sharing secrets around a campfire, some secrets cannot be betrayed. Special times, special friends.
I woke up the next morning with a massive hangover. I didn’t remember going to bed and thought about staying in bed, but I needed aspirin and eggs. I moved to put my feet on the floor but my feet were filthy. Where had I been? What had I done? I vaguely recalled dumping the kids plastic pools before I came in…. as the sun was coming up. I looked around the bedroom to reorient myself. The door was open to Gunner’s room; he was asleep. I checked the clock, it was almost noon…. boy scouts would be home in an hour. I thought about the gypsy and candles in the library….. Did I blow them out? I had to go and check… Who was still here? I better find out.
I wandered to the library, candlesticks gone, everything back in place. I went through the dining room (located candlesticks) to the kitchen but stopped for aspirin, first. All the dishes were put away. Looked like nothing happened at all – but the laundry was running with sheets. I went upstairs to figure out who was here. All the room doors were open, beds remade, nothing out of place, no one here. Where did everyone go? Did we have a party? Or was is a dream? What day was it? I was confused, but I had dirty feet. Before the baby woke up, I wandered out to the game room…. and there it was….
A bamboo serving tray loaded with Easter Island tacky green glasses and a note, which read, “We’ll talk later. Luv ya.” I crinkled up the note and put away the tacky glasses. No other semblance of a party remained. It was like it never happened.
But, we did have a party. I thought we did.
Back in the house, Gunner awake, we both took a shower and ate. Men came home, normal Sunday. Husband outside, puttering in the lawn, asked me about all the plastic pools behind the game room. I told him we had a bunch of kids over…. which was true.
Monday morning was Labor Day, we BBQ’d along with the rest of the world.
Tuesday…… most of the girls dropped off their kids and raced to my house. The sight of some of them made me laugh all over again. One of them was wearing her Homecoming Queen sash. It was a heckuva party but like some kind of unwritten law, no one was talking about it. Fine with me, our secret. A few of them explained they cleaned up that morning and decided to let me sleep. Wonderful girlfriends.
We rarely spoke about that party again, and only to each other, but every now and then I hear one of them slip up in a normal conversation……. when they say….. “I had a gypsy tell my fortune one time and she told me……”
And I laugh all over again.
Sometimes, you have to make your own fun. count yourself blessed if you had good friends to go along for the ride.
And never, ever, settle for being bored.