5th-Grade Death Race

Slumber party. 5th grade. Cray-cray.

I was not popular. I was on the fringes of popular. And that’s okay.

My best friend in 5th grade was invited to a sleepover. Quite a few of the 5th-grade girls were invited to the birthday party, but I was not. I felt left out and disappointed. But as I look back, it shouldn’t have been such a big deal, I wasn’t good friends with the birthday girl anyhow. But FoMO. Am I rite??

If my best friend was going to an overnight slumber party, would she still be my best friend??! Also, looking back, my best friend? She was close friends with everyone. BECAUSE! she was so great. I was just clingy. I mean, she was funny and cool and comforting. The person you can’t live without because they entertain you. The person who draws fake boobs on everything. The person who shares your first fart joke. The person who finds your eyes when something’s funny. The person who can make you feel like you’re the only person in the room. Everyone wants that.

“So don’t go without me!” is what I was screaming. In my mind.

My friend could tell I was tormented, so she begged Birthday Girl to invite me. I’m in! Who’s birthday is it now? lol (I loathe my childhood self. Needy, demanding and oh-so tragic brat. I’m better now.) 🙂

We all arrive that Friday evening to BG’s house. She lived in the country and had a house with a downstairs rec room (split-level ranch). I was always fascinated by basements because our house did not have one. Basements were the first whiff of independence. Parents directed minors to the partially-finished basements of their homes, never to check on their welfare again. It was a laissez-faire lounge of anything goes. What happens in the rec room, stays in the rec room.

Most rec rooms were designed for active children. You usually couldn’t break anything, even if you tried. There was usually an old TV and stereo. Outdated pieces of furniture, matted and discolored carpets, junk-food snacks and unheard-of board games. A pleasure-dome palace of epic proportions for preteen parties. Perfect.

When most of us had grown bored of board games and bedlam, in the strained hours before pretending to go to sleep, someone suggested Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board. A new “board” game?

“What is it?”

Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board is stupid. That’s what it is. A girl is supposed to lie down in the middle of a circle. Each circle member puts two fingers (index and middle) from both hands under the body of the immobile girl in the middle. Everyone’s supposed to concentrate and quietly chant, “Light as a feather, stiff as a board.” (At a 5th grade slumber party? Fat chance!) And then the girl should rise effortlessly off the ground and levitate.

LOL

It could happen. In 5th grade, anything was possible.

So, we turned out all the lights in the already-dim basement and made a skinny girl (better chance of lifting her) lie down in our covenly circle. I was serious, but most were not. There were titters and giggles from every participant at one point or another. It was hard to tell who was breaking, but from the sounds, it was practically all.

After minutes of trying, I got frustrated. Not so much at the gigglers, but having all the lights out. I didn’t like being in the dark. In my previous story, I explained. I just hated being completely blind. I had a terrible fear of someone sneaking up on and grabbing me, attacking me, biting my toes, killing me, whatever. Irrational and overwhelming. I had to have all of my body parts under a blanket at night or I freaked out. Even if it was dead of summer and I was sweating bullets. I slept with a night light until the age of…last night. I know, it’s stupid. But I just accept it. Everyone hates it, but it’s just who I am. You’re welcome, for not stubbing your toes at night when you patter off to the bathroom.

So, after several minutes of quite seriously trying to lift a girl off the floor in the complete black of BG’s basement, I freaked out and went to the top of the stairs and flipped on the light. Phew.

Then all hell broke loose. It sounded like hell anyway. All I could hear were girls voices whisper-screaming at each other to:

Try again.
Calm down.
Turn that light off.
What’s going on??
Lay down!
Use your fingers.
Stop laughing.
*Gasp* Did she move?
Who farted??

LOL

I also heard shuffling, scurrying, stifled sighs and laughter. After a few minutes, some of my more concerned friends (or other dark-fearers) softly approached me on the stairs.

“You okay?”

I nodded.

“Coming back down? Come back down!”

I vigorously shook my head no. And they stayed for a while, attempting to comfort me.

Inevitably, some noise would draw them back down at a chance for fun or fright. But I stayed at the top until they eventually tired and turned on a light. If this was a horror movie, I would have been the survivor.

I don’t think the game, or anyone, got off the ground. A few people claimed that so-and-so moved slightly, but that was a stretch. Others denied it. Others were confused. “No one will ever know if it worked or not.”

Yes. We will. It didn’t. Pretty sure! LOL


This story was mainly to show the ridiculous nature of preteen girls and the power of suggestion. Most primary-school slumber parties ended with a horror movie and/or dabbling in the occult. We watched Death Race 2000 with Sylvester Stallone and David Carradine. A Friday Fright Night TV airing of a cross-country automobile race where the drivers try to hit people and kill them with their cars. For points! We also listened to a spooky radio show on the stereo while trying to drift off to sleep. Stupid! Not going to sleep! Ever.

Some people just like to be scared. I’d rather have another slice of pizza, please.

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