over with the enemy|
by John Gosselink
you’re reading this, it means I didn’t make it.|
I knew I was going to
a place that no man had emerged from alive, or if living, sane, but I thought
I was different. Was it arrogance? Probably. Stupidity? Definitely. A bad case
of athlete’s foot? Yep, but I got some ointment for that. Whatever the cause,
I agreed to help host a sleepover for 9 seven-year-old girls. What a fool this
I was caught in a trap actually. Our group of friends being
teachers forces us to be in a seasonal birthday trend that there is really no
escaping. You see, after putting up with you all’s kids for nine months, it takes
a couple of months of decompression before the thought of bringing more into the
world seems desirable. So late July till the start of school is our natural mating
season. It’s a pretty small window, but we seem to be genetically programmed to
make good use of it. Teachers are a lot like salmon, except without all the swimming
and grizzlies eating us.
All of our kids are born in April and May, our
people have a birthday party every weekend during this time, usually with a recurring
theme. This year, somebody thought sleepovers would be a good idea. That somebody
is now living in Arizona under the federal witness relocation plan because the
rest of us put a mob hit out on her.
After I told the wife my plan of
leaving that night, and after she quit beating me with a rake, I was appointed
entertainment director. Okay, I can do that, I thought. I just need some time-consuming
activities. Let’s see, prison tattooing seminar? Nope, too messy and could cause
party to degenerate into gang warfare. Tequila drinking contest? No, 7 year olds
are mean drunks. Roundtable discussion of 21st literary theory? But a deconstructionist
might show up and their pseudo-nihilist approach to author intention gets on my
So I started with the classics. We’d have a piñata so as to encourage
violence against flamboyant animals and cartoon characters; you can’t have enough
of that in society. A case of silly string. Not sure why, but kids love anything
out of aerosol cans that they can spray in each other’s faces. Note to self –
tell wife not to include cans of mace in goody bags.
That eats up about
20 minutes, so I needed something that will take a while and wear them out a bit.
I came up with a treasure hunt that was a series of riddles that had them run
the length of the property several times. Brilliant, except for the fact I stole
the riddles from “The Da Vinci Code.” It was a lot of confused kids standing around
in the backyard as I shouted, “What do you mean you don’t know the Aramenian word
for “wheelbarrow” the Knights Templar used as a password? What are they teaching
you in school these days?”
That messed with their heads for an hour, then
I handed them over to the wife for feeding, birthday singing, and gift shredding.
These kids are at an age where the gifts are placed in the middle of a room and
it looks like a cow carcass being lowered into a piranha pond, which looks cool
except that I was supposed to take the thank you note notes. At that speed, it’s
impossible to tell who gave what. I just wrote “Barbie” by each name.
Things were calming down when the wife uttered a statement to which, weeks later,
I still haven’t come up with the proper response. “Honey, with this many girls,
I may need your help doing their nails.” Obviously, she had suffered a small stroke
and lost the rational part of her brain. First of all, my clumsy hands would make
them all look like Iraqi voters. Then there’s the polish fume huffing temptation.
Not to mention that it’s DOING NAILS! What, is she trying to get me kicked out
of the guy club? I’ve just re-upped my dues.
My hissy fit got me out of
it and then it was bedtime story time. My kids are used to my stories, but the
others were a bit nonplussed. We all know how unpleasant nonplussed girls are.
I’m great at starting stories – the kids are the characters in magical adventures
– but I always seem to talk myself into narrative corners and the whole thing
implodes under it’s own illogical weight. “So the nine girls have entered the
magic cave and are surrounded by mushroom people when they hear the heavy stomping
coming down the tunnel and….hmmm….how about President Chester A Arthur and…let’s
see… and funny man Flip Wilson entered. Yeah, and with big bowls of clam chowder.
The end. Good night.”
I made a beeline to my bedroom before the nonplussed
It was a good run, but a night of giggling, squealing,
and endless potty trips pushed me over the edge. I’ve already got a theme for
next years’ parties – a marathon version of the quiet game. Parents, please plan