September 30, 2008

Die Another Day

My brick-and-mortar friend (term credit: Marie) Mairzy is perhaps wondering if I am going to suddenly confess a childhood crush on another old classmate of mine, her husband August. We were in a combined-grade classroom, and August was in the younger grade while I was in the older grade. A grade makes a huge difference at that age, and I don't remember any of the younger boys even being on our Crush Radar--even though there was such a shortage of boys in the older grade. The grade-younger boys just seemed sooooo much younger.

I will, however, tell a story that involves August, and it is a story of an incident I consider one of the most mortifying situations of my entire childhood. ...How's THAT for a sure-to-disappoint build-up?

My family occasionally went over to August's house to play games in the evening. (Yeah, NOW the roller rink looks pretty fierce, doesn't it?) This was a ton of fun, and 99% of the reason is that August's family is the kind of family that, if you were going to have an arranged marriage, you'd be slipping the matchmaker bribes to marry you into it. They are NICE and FUNNY and SMART (also healthy and attractive with good teeth and hair!), and totally righteous dudes overall without being, you know, all treacly and lame about it.

One evening as we were saying our goodbyes, August's little sister (who was and is the sort of person you'd describe as Bringing Joy to the World, she is such a cutie/sweetie/sunshine) asked if I could sleep over. My parents had a policy for these situations, and that policy was No Spontaneous Plans: it's too difficult to arrange these things on the spot, and too hard for parents to say no if they want to. But for some reason they let this offer stand (THANKS), and four adults and four children waited to hear my RSVP.

I am not sure you know this about me, but I am not a "go with the flow" type. And so the thought of changing course like this and spending the night was...startling. My first protest, in fact, was that I didn't have my THINGS with me, and of course August's mother said that was no big deal and that they could even rustle up a brand-new toothbrush for me. And then everyone waited again.

But here was my REAL reason, the protest I couldn't say: "SPEND THE NIGHT??? In the house of a BOY from my CLASS???? Wearing PAJAMAS?????"

I mean! Imagine! BRUSHING MY TEETH down the hall from A BOY! Having him see me in the morning with Sleep Hair!!! PEEING IN THE SAME BATHROOM. It was unimaginable. Or rather: far too imaginable. If I had previously considered the grade-younger boys "SO much younger," I suddenly felt they were in fact my exact same age.

This is, however, not the kind of reason you can give when four adults and the boy in question are waiting for your reply. And here is another thing I'm not sure you know about me: I don't think quickly on my feet. Early in my educational career I considered law, but rejected it because a trial lawyer (which was the only kind of lawyer I knew about) needs to think quickly on her feet. Well, and also I was scared of the bar exam. Because I like to fear things way in advance if possible.

And so I needed an excuse, and I needed one fast, and I am a rabbit-in-the-headlights thinker, and so what I said was that I thought I was coming down with a cold. I believe I added a little fake cough for emphasis. This was so patently an Excuse Lie, especially when offered after the objection about not having my Things, it was insulting to all present. Like saying, "I can't---I need to wash my hair." I'd just spent the entire evening with them: if I were indeed coming down with a cold, I'd just given them a hostess gift of GERMS. And I'd betrayed no symptoms of said cold, not in several hours of visit. LIE LIE LIE GLARING LIE. I knew instantly, but there was no fixing it: even if I could have gone back in time, I still had no good reason to give in its place.

All the way home, I died. I continued dying when I should have been sleeping. I died over the next several days, and then periodically--to this very day--I revisit that scene to die some more. (STILL have no good reason.)

26 comments:

bessie.viola said...

Oh, this makes me laugh and laugh. I was that same painfully analytic child - I had a moment like this shortly after I got my first period and a friend invited me swimming. I calmly demurred, dying inside all the while, as she continued on asking me why until it was BLATANTLY obvious the only reason.

And then, like you, I died for about a week because someone I KNEW knew I had my PERIOD. The time is burned in my memory...

You tell such a great story, Swistle!

Lawyerish said...

OH, THE DISCOMFORT. I am dying FOR you. I am irrationally angry with everyone involved for putting you on the spot like that. Someone should have STEPPED IN when you hesitated! They should have made up an excuse FOR you!

I have more moments like this than I can count, ones that make me flush with embarrassment even now.

Oh, and I am totally not a go-with-the-flow person, either. Am rigid and unyielding.

Jenni said...

Oh, god, I'm dying and I wasn't even there. How mortifying on so many levels.

Can I just say how much I'm LOVING all of your grade school memories?

Anna said...

This is so funny! The worst is, you know that SHE doesn't even remember it.

suddensilence said...

Sleepovers! OMG I hated them. I was cringing right along with you as I read this.

My mom always tried to push me into them, wanting me to socialize. I was hearing impaired though, and the big thing with sleepovers is talking and whispering after the lights are out. My biggest nightmare. I could never hear and stressed about it constantly. That and the telephone game (for slumber parties).

BTW, we also had the No Spontaneous Plans rule with my kids! :)

~ Wendi

Erica said...

Oh how I love these "memory lane" stories!

I would call August's parents and sister and explain yourself. Then you can stop being mortified over it. Sure it happened 20 years ago, but who cares? They'll get a big laugh out of it, I'm sure.

d e v a n said...

Oh yes, mortifying. Oh dear. If it makes you feel any better I'm sure THEY have forgotten all about it!

Jen said...

I agree with Erica - they'll totally get a big laugh out of it and then you'll have some way of reframing/deflating the whole memory and its associated dying-ness. Maybe?

That said - I would have TOTALLY died too! OMG, what if he peeked in when you were changing into your jammies?! NO. WAY.

My parents had the same rule, only it was called Plan Ahead and involved a 24-hour grace period. It was uber-annoying and frequently stomped about once I hit 12 or so.

Whimsy said...

It makes me feel so good to know that a whole pile of the neurotic as children, can't make last minute plans, the stuff that has carried us through adult hood-- the whole BUNCH OF US has congregated here.

Like so many others, this story could have been about me. I was not an on-the-fly type of girl. And I'm afraid I'm still not, though I'm trying.

Alice said...

i once had a friend decide to come over for a sleepover, and during dinner her parents called to check in and say hi / goodnight, and she started crying at the dinner table and whispered into the phone that she wanted her parents to come pick her up.

i'm not sure if *she's* still mortified by it, but *i* was SO MORTIFIED that it was SO AWFUL being at my house that she had to leave a pre-planned sleepover. SO EMBARRASSED.

Saly said...

I agree, mortifying. I think we should all start posting such stories. We must all have them.

Leticia said...

Swistle, you crack me up! Have you ever said what astrological sign you are? I am dying to know if you are a virgo....dying....

Brooke said...

I hated sleepovers. I hate being out of my comfort zone. I'm sorry your folks totally left you dangling instead of enforcing the No Spontaneous Plans rule.

I can't really think on my feet either, but I would have just gone along to avoid confrontation/awkwardness. I hate awkward situations v. much.

Shelly said...

Oh I can so relate. Except I was that kid who thought sleepovers were GREAT! And would join in and beg to stay and have a great time until the middle of the night, when everyone else was asleep, then would lay there and cry until I was miserable enough to get up and ask my friend's parents to take me home. I was a beloved houseguest, let me tell you.

Mairzy said...

I'm laughing so hard I have tears in my eyes. I don't know about my mother-in-law, but I'm willing to lay bets that August has absolutely no recollection of the incident.

It's the fake cough that sets me off every time.

el-e-e said...

I, too, am just DYING for you. And also, laughing really out loud. Poor you! WHY didn't the Policy apply in this situation?? WHY?

Jeninacide said...

LOL! I totally had a situation where I was sort-of pressured into staying the night at this girl's house that I didn't really like (she was a bit of a bully and really annoying and hyperactive and sometimes mean)and I really didn't want to go- but like I said, I was pressured! So, on the way there my mom told me that if I "didn't FEEL WELL (wink wink) later that I could call her and she would come get me." Well, wouldn't you know,I came down with a stomach ache right around bed time. The girl and her grandma were SO PISSED that my mom came and got me.

I was never invited again. THANK GOB!

Hairline Fracture said...

Poor young you, on the spot like that! Your parents' original plan of "no spontaneous plans" was much better.

And what is it with the way one's brain will revisit mortifying events from twentysomething years ago? I hate it when that happens.

Lise said...

Ah yes, the trip down mortifying memory lane. I know it well. If only our brains came equipped with a delete key!

J from Ireland said...

Oh how mortifying for you. Its crazy that things that happened years ago can still feel the same all these years later. Love how you tell your stories, very funny.

Bird said...

I became friends with the wife of a guy a worked with and we decided that our families would go camping together. Ummmm. . . horror. A co-worker seeing me in my morning glory--hair crazy, general funk of bug spray and sun screen, and a mile to brush my teeth. NOT COOL and I was like twenty-seven.

Michelle said...

Hey that wasn't so bad. c'mon everyone gives kids some slack. It's better than forgetting gym clothes AND getting your unexpected period the day of high school softball tryouts where you sort of needed to stand bent over with your legs spread wide to scoop up the grounders. That day ruined softball for me until after I graduated college.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

Oh man! Great story! I love you reliving your childhood!

I'm not great with my plans changing today, as a 23-year-old. LOL. So I understand, my dear Swistle, I understand!

I didn't know you went to school with Mairzy's husband... did she grow up with you too or did you just meet her because of you knowing her husband's family? Now you've gotten me completely curious about your relationship ... as if it's any of my business. LOL.

Thanks for sharing this story!!!

Swistle said...

Steph- I didn't grow up with Mairzy, but got to know her a couple of years ago.

Marie Green said...

HA! Term credit! Thanks for the link.

Oh, pretty much ALL of middle school makes me blush. I was a complete and total idiot at ALL TIMES. Jesus.

Mairzy said...

Steph - Swistle was actually my husband's family's friend. But I stole her.