I promised a couple posts back that I would tell you some crazy ass stories about my mother’s obsessive worrying, so here comes one. When I was in the second grade sleep-over birthday parties were all the rage. Unfortunately for me, my mother wouldn’t let me attend any because she was worried about me being away from home overnight. This was very frustrating for the seventy pound version of myself to say the least.
I finally had enough one Monday at school when all anyone could talk about was Timmy Sullivan’s Ghostbusters themed sleep-over party. Over and over they re-hashed every glorious minute of the sleep-over, and all I could do was listen in silence, or go talk to the only other kid who hadn’t attended, “pee boy.” As opposed to “pee boy,” however, I was invited. I had gotten the invitation with the Stay Puffed Marshmellow Man on the front and everything!
On the drive home from school that day I gave my Mom the cold shoulder. When she questioned me about what was wrong I exploded with famous kid catchphrases including, but not limited to, “You’re ruining my life!” “I hate you!” and “I’m going to run away, and when I do you’ll wish you’d let me go to the sleep-over!”
Slowly but surely the thunderstorm of guilt I was throwing down got to my Mom until she yelled, “We’ll discuss this with your father over dinner!”
That night my father listened intently to both sides of the argument, then weaseled out and said, “There’s no point in arguing over this until there’s another sleep-over party. So let’s just drop it for now, okay?”
My mom was clearly pleased by this which only pissed me off even more. I wanted justice, damn it! If I had been a character in Amistad I would have stood up and chanted, “Give me free! Give me free!” but alas, I was not. Consequentially, I just sat there and refused to eat my vegetables as my mother fought a grin, totally thinking she had came out on top.
The next week, however, an envelope arrived in the mail with a “Transformers” insignia on the front. My Mom darkened upon seeing it, then tried to slide it into a magazine. I snatched it away before she could, ripped it open, and… Oh, glorious day! Abe Rubenstein was having a Transformers‘ themed sleep-over party in just two weeks!
“I am going to this one,” I thought. “NO MATTER WHAT!”
That night at dinner I laid out my case once again, and my Dad admitted that maybe I should finally get to go to one of these things. The writing was on the wall…I was going to win this thing, but my mother, like poor Hillary Clinton, just wouldn’t accept that she had lost. For the next two weeks she made my life a living hell. She cried, laid guilt trips, even tried to bribe me with trips to Toys ‘R Us, but I wouldn’t give in. Finally, the night before the party, she conceded. I was going to my first sleep-over birthday party!
The next night my Dad parked in front of Abe’s house as my Mom rattled off a laundry list of things that could go wrong and how I was to be prepared for them. I kept nodding until she stopped talking, then gave her a kiss on the cheek and popped out of the car.
Soon I was having the time of my life. There was a dude in a Transformers’ suit walking around, more snacks and soda than a boy could ever dream of, and an awesome tent in the backyard. Abe’s Dad had even set up a TV and VCR in it, and in the middle of the night we were going to watch “Conan The Barbarian” on VHS. (In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes, I do find it weird we were going to watch “Conan the Barbarian” at a Transformers’ party.)
A few hours later I was sitting Indian style in the tent with my pals and cheering on Arnold as he kicked butt. I was having so much fun, in fact, that I didn’t even notice when Abe’s dad entered the tent with an ashen face and hit “pause” on the VCR. All the kids protested, then quieted when he shot them a look of intense seriousness. He cleared his throat and said, “Mike? Can I talk to you outside a minute?” I nodded and left the tent, frightened.
“I have some terrible news,” Abe’s father began after he had seated me on a lawn chair. “Your parents just called and said that your Grandfather has passed away.”
“What?” I gasped. “He…died?”
Abe’s father nodded, solemn. “You’re all driving down to San Diego tonight to be with your Grandmother, so pack up your things. Your parents will be here any minute.”
I nodded as tears welled in my eyes, then gathered my stuff and went outside with Abe’s Dad to wait. It seemed like an eternity before my parent’s car finally pulled up.
I got in the back seat and immediately started bawling as we pulled away. My mother was silent until Abe’s Dad was no longer in sight, then said, “Relax, honey. Grandpa isn’t dead. We were just worried about you!” She then turned around in her seat all smiles and raised a bag of Baskins & Robbins. “We got ice cream! Chocolate Chip! Your favorite!”
This is where my memory of the night ends. Did I eat ice cream with them? I don’t know. Did I tell the kids on Monday my grandfather was alive or keep up the lie? I don’t remember. What I do know is that after going through this kind of thing with my Mom as a child (and believe me, this is just the tip of the iceberg) I am lucky that the weirdest thing I can imagine is a scaily, puss filled monster stealing my baby.