Charles Dickens and Sleepovers

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.”

I’m speaking of course about childhood slumber parties.

This was indeed the best of times. In our small town, slumber parties were usually celebrating someone’s birthday, with a brave mother acquiescing to her daughter’s desire for an overnighter.

There was the one at Becky’s house, where we all practiced ariel flips off her twin headboard until someone bumped their head and we had to calm down.

There was the one at Debbie’s house, where we all “slept” in tents and snapped photos of the sunrise from in the middle of her remote two-lane highway.

There was the one at Sydney’s house, where her mother made fudge and we snacked on it all night until we were a little sick.

Yes, this was the best of times.

But, this was also the worst of times.

There was the slumber party where we decided to test the mouth-shrinking power of alum on the resident little sister. Without precise measurements, someone managed to go a little overboard with the dosage of this pickling spice. The incident caused such choking and gagging that we thought we’d killed her, which kinda took the cartoon element out of the event.

And, of course, every single gathering included girl drama: the overreaction of underdeveloped adolescents which were characterized by intense emotions and raging hormones. We never grasped the concept that exaggeration and estrogen don’t mix well in tight quarters.

Yes, this was the worst of times.

But this was also the age of wisdom.

There was the soirée planned in Annie’s garage, the largest place available so we could all overnight together. But, as we settled into our sleeping bags on the cold concrete, someone started coughing. Annie’s mother brought out the humidifier which so humiliated Annie that it put a damper on the entire party.

There was the overnighter planned in Valarie’s front yard, in which someone had arranged for the boys to drop by in the middle of the night. But just as they showed up, Valarie’s dad did too and that pretty much broke up the whole shenanigans.

This was definitely the age of foolishness.

We experimented with black light, lava light, and then sleeping light, which was important if your hand was chosen to be the one immersed in water while you slept. Martha and I usually were selected for the latter, as neither of us could ever seem to stay awake for the duration of the event. Fortunately, we never had to change underwear in the middle of the sleepover, so maybe this trick actually doesn’t work after all.

It was the epoch of belief.

Once it got dark, someone always decided to recreate a terrifying story they’d heard from their older sibling. The “thump, thump, drag” tale scared us so badly that not even Martha or I slept that night. In fact, we were all so frightened that Baptist, Methodist and AOG girls all joined together in a rousing rendition of “Put Your Hand in the Hand of the Man” to help calm our nerves. We found Who you believed in was more important than what.

And it was the epoch of incredulity.

Annie’s cat graced us by giving birth during one sleepover. Except for the farm girls, most had never watched the incredible wonder of new life entering the world. Mesmerized by the miracle, we bonded together that early morning as we remained transfixed on the delivery of “The Tale of Two Kitties”.

“In short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” 

Sleepovers. You either loved them or hated them. But no one can deny, every one of them were full of unforgettable memories.