Thursday, September 26, 2013

Miss Popularity

As a new kid in elementary school, I always made lots of friends. A nomad, an exotic, I knew some tricks. And there's probably no greater testament to my consistent popularity than to say -- other kids traded lunch with me. 

Lunch trading was rather a big deal; it solidified your membership in a crowd. 

And I knew when I hit the sweet spot, the inner circle, because my new friends would slide their fluffer-nutter peanutbutter on Wonderbread in my general direction, in exchange for a sandwich of hard salami on pumpernickel slathered in Dijon mustard and topped with Roquefort. 

Nothing spelled devotion like trading a Twinkie for my apple, a bag of Fritos for my hard boiled egg.

What can I say? My mom's idea of a school lunch could have taken three sherpas up Mount Blanc and back.

At the end of lunch period, Kim and Mary and Lynne would surreptitiously wrap the remains of my trade, and almost all of it remained, in a napkin to toss away when they thought I wasn't looking.

(What they didn't know is that a new kid in a new environment is constantly on the alert.)

I didn't like their fluffer-nutter either, so we probably all would have starved had it not been for the deliciousness of chocolate milk in a melting wax pint container.

Most of all, though, perhaps my popularity had something to do with my slumber parties.

Everyone came to my slumber parties, and not for the food, They knew I'd have nothing on offer but sliced pears, apple quarters, and grapes. 

They came for the horror-fest. The promise to plunge the thumb of the first girl sleeping into a cup of water. Guaranteed to make her pee in her sleeping bag. (An urban slumber party myth, as this never actually worked).

And the Closet of Terrors. Whoever lost some game or other would get locked in the closet with three sadists and tickled until she peed. (Now this one may have actually worked.)

But mostly the popularity of my slumber parties hinged on my story telling abilities.

Because at midnight, I'd tell this tale:

A girl married a man and this girl always wore a blue ribbon around her neck. "Why do you always wear that blue ribbon around your neck?" her husband asked. And she said, "Someday, I'll tell you." So every year he would ask "Why do you wear that blue ribbon around you neck?" And she'd say "Someday, I'll tell you." And then when she was dying, her husband asked, "Why do you wear that blue ribbon around your neck?" And she said, "Pull the ribbon." And he did, and her head fell off.

I held a flashlight under my chin. As though, as though, such terror would need a prop; an extra drop of drama.

And then, almost as if on cue, my mother would enter the room.

"Anyone for more grapes?  Peaches? Some knockwurst? I can also whip up some blue cheese on Parmesan crusts, or a fig-compote."

Between me and my mom, we horrified these kids all night, and then from midnight to morning.


29 comments:

  1. I wished I had known u back then!.. That's one cool horror story! :-) Bet u had quite a few bugged eyes and wide open mouths. LOL

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  2. Noooo, not the knack-worst. Spare me.

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  3. Oh yeah! A fig compote and anything with Roquefort on it would scare the heck out of me also! (I actually liked knockwurst, liverwurst and any other "wurst") when I was a kid.

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  4. I never traded a lunch nor hosted a slumber party in my life.

    I guess that explains a lot.

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  5. I KNOW you didn't have any ASD friends cuz you would have been totally busted on the fluffer-nutter peanut butter thing. We are also constantly on the alert.

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  6. Ah! I spent a lot of time being a new girl too, and I definitely agree that they are an observant and alert breed. Alas, I was never Miss Popular. Sniff.

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  7. Oh Lord, I went to those parties, and hosted a few of my own. We did the hand-in-water thing, and cut a set of bangs or two after the lightweights fell asleep.

    Fortunately I was usually the last one to fall asleep, not because I tried to stay awake but because I was naturally a night owl.

    I remember that story, too, but the more popular ones at our parties concerned a hitchhiker and a couple on lovers lane and their encounter with an escaped mental patient.

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  8. We hit that story hard, but not until 4th grade. The radio said there was a madman on the loose. When the lovers got home, they opened the car door and there was a severed arm, hanging on to the handle, right?

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  9. We recited the Lord's prayer backwards at midnight and a huge bat flew in front of the window - I kid tou not! It was terrifying. As a mother, the slumber parties my daughter had were very annoying as the girls stayed up talking ALL NIGHT and I didn't get any sleep either. My son's slumber parties were such a relief. The boys fell asleep before midnight, and slept like puppies until breakfast.

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  10. Passing your finger through the candle's flame.

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  11. Ah, yes. The madman and the severed arm. I remember it well.

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  12. lol...my slumber parties weren't nearly as exciting as that. Although, there may have been a few flashlights held under chins.

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  13. What's the one about Bloody Mary and the mirror? My mom packed us ding dongs in the tin foil & they were a hot commodity on the playground.

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  14. Your mother's lunches sound delicious. Except for the Roquefort.

    As a practical joker myself, I think your slumber parties are a hoot!

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  15. Aah, I remember that story ~ our regional variation had the escapee standing on the roof of the car waving the arm around. Scared the willies out of me!!! Yours would have too, KB.

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  16. I remember different variations on the story. One had the severed arm on the door handle, another one had them hearing something on the roof and getting outside to find the guy hanging from a tree above the car, with his bare toes scritching and scratching the top of the car! Gasp!

    Then there was the vanishing hitchhiker who turned out to be either an angel or demon, depending on the context of the story. Definitely a demon for the slumber party setting.

    Thankfully (very thankfully) my kids had one or two boys sleep over at a time. They never did slumber parties here. Whew ... I remember mothers dragging themselves out of bed in the wee hours to turn on the lights and yell at us! I wasn't sympathetic at the time, but now I feel sorry for them. :-)

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  17. Bec, you went all out, because that required an addition prop -- a lit candle.

    John, when we were a year or two older and the boys found out about our slumber party, they'd come by and try to peek through the windows. We'd either scream or say, "I see you, Jim Stark."

    Shell, see above -- our ace reporter Karen has the scoop. (And fig compote scares me to this day.)

    Karen, a mother yelling was total social death. I guess my parents resigned themselves to a sleepless night, because they never complained. Wealthier friends had their own separate structure, far away from the main house, and in such a place, we went wild.

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  18. And your story telling abilities still delight. I went to 12 different schools, 3 in Kindergarten (but only one high school, thankfully), and I never fared as well as you. Except for the time we moved into a town where a friend of my idiot mother lived, and her kid Bert was in my grade. Bert was a doofus, but at least I knew someone on the first day of school, and that was huge to me.

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  19. Marjie, yes, knowing someone -- anyone -- when you walked in the door for the first time, that was huge. My first-day strategy: Whatever else happened, make sure I had someone to sit next to at lunch.

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  20. Filled a baggie with water, and made an ice cube out of Carolyn's bra. She was not amused

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  21. Your lunches and your storytelling skills were so sophisticated! But no Ouija Board?

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  22. A horrific tale. hahahahahahahaha

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  23. Love kid memories, Karin.
    The "blue ribbon around the neck"
    story make me laugh!

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  24. This post brought back memories. I often had friends sleep over but remember only one big group, so big we needed to sleep in my brothers' room with sleeping bags everywhere. There was a tree outside the window that we were convinced was a peeping Tom. I ran to the living room to tell my mom, who wanted to know why I was still up - she was reading through Playboy magazines! I went back to bed and never mentioned that to anyone....

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  25. Great stuff. Kind of goes along with those "teenage death songs" that hit the radio years ago: Dead Man's Curve, Last Kiss, Tell Laura I Love Her, Patches, Teen Angel, etc.

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  26. What a great story, the big one and the story within the story, with or without the flashlight.

    How I wish I'd known, as a little boy, that little girls were into forcible urination and such. My grandmother told me I mustn't use naughty words or jokes around little girls, or their mothers wouldn't let them play with me anymore. Hence the pedestal and gossamer wings, and I had no sisters to show me the truth. I remained in the slow class for a long time.

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  27. I'm sorry we weren't there for you Banjo, to light the way.

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