talking till the wee, wee hours

by bam

i’m thinking slumber parties for grownups are the next big swell idea. or, at least they should be, if we give a dang for the continued tick-tock-tick of that ol’ vessel keepin’ time, just beneath our jammies and our frayed and flannel robes.

oh, i don’t mean yakkin’ the night away with whoever it is you’re shacked up with. that’s all well and good (although there are the toothpaste blobs in the sink to contend with, and company seems to know to refrain from that. or at least wipe ’em down with a wad of toilet paper). in fact, some nights when i find me and the tall-guy-with-glasses laughing ourselves silly at 2 in the morning, i really do think marriage–on a good day–is like your mom telling you your best friend can have a sleepover all summer long. and then, poof, the summer never ends.

what i’m talkin’ here–sorry, boys, you can go play all-night poker, or whatever it is that would float your so-called boat–i’m talkin’ havin’ your best girl friends, one at a time is how i like it best, come knockin’ at your door, with jammies, mouthguard, heck, even pimple cream tucked in some little over-the-shoulder satchel.

i’m talkin’ curling up on the couch, armed with bowls of popcorn to punctuate the most important points–you can bite it hard and loud, if you need to, or let it linger on your lips, for effect; it really is the perfect conversational accessory, salted, greased or plain old plain.

i’m talkin’ whispers when the rest of the house is filled with zzzzzzs. i’m talkin’ getting past the ancillary business and boring straight inside the heart.

i’m talkin’ saying things you can’t say out loud to barely any other soul on earth. but you can when you’re with a best friend, because she knows it all already. and she can fill in blanks no one else would every guess.

what makes me think all this is i had a slumber party just the other night.

one of my oldest, dearest, wisest friends was in town from california. she stretched her trip just to spend two nights, one day, with me and my boys. once again, i was humming as i readied her room, blew up the air mattress, put out a little vase of white tea roses in winter, laid yummy soaps and lotions on her tall stack of fluffy towels. i even plunked a toblerone chocolate on her pillow. there is nothin’ like spoiling your best friends.

the first night, after fish soup and black cherry pie, we stayed up for hours, accompanied by the boy i call the manchild. he adores her too. she is pretty much his auntie to the world. she knows more about everything than most anyone i know. she’s hip. she’s cool. she wears her hair in dreadlocks (not a lot of which you see around this leafy shore). and she’s the one who taught him how to take whatever’s in the fridge, add rice, one egg, and call it “ghetto fried rice.” a dish he could eat five times a day, swooning every time.

oh, and besides, she went to the school he’s set his sights on, so he had hours’ worth of questions. right down to subway stops, and profs.

that night, as you might figure, it was all PG, content approved for family audience. (with just a few racy winks and nods, perhaps, since after all, he’s a manchild now, and she was easing him into the club.)

the next night, though, once home from a rousing dinner with old newsroom pals, we paid no mind to the clock telling us–in no uncertain terms–that anyone with sense would be in bed, tucked beneath the puffy covers.

nope. we were two old, old friends who’d had to keep the lid on all the really pressing stuff the night before. so this night, we were all but yankin’ that old clock right off the wall. it ticked, we talked. ignored its insistent gongs, every quarter hour, like a toddler tugging on our sleeve.

we got down to business. we got down to girl talk–and i’ll not spell that out. you’re either of the double-Xs (i’m talkin’ DNA, not ratings, here), and you know of which i speak. or else you’re not, and forgive our exclusionary ways this one time, but there’s no translator in the house.

here, though, are some hints: dreams, drama, heartache; repeat, repeat. how’s that for what it was us girls were digging into, besides the mound of exploded kernels that stoked our late-night talking binge?

oh, yes, there was something to the sleepiness that crept in, as that ol’ clock kept burping up its teeny-tiny numbers. not unlike wine, it made the room all gauzy, almost blurred. i was bleary-eyed, all right, but that only oiled, loosed, the conversation.

like a stream that rushes, sends its waters down and in, rinsing ’round the rocks, bathing every crevice, that late-night hour propelled the words, the thoughts, down deep to all the nooks and crannies of our souls.

we went to places the daylight does not allow. only the long blank slate of night, with dawn the only end in sight, still miles out beyond the eastern sky.

in fact, at one brief synapse, when some wayward thought was trying to take the leap from nerve to nerve, i did think, oh heck, let’s just go all night. let’s watch that rosy-fingered dawn reach out and try to tap us on the noggin.

but at last, when every chamber of our hearts had been unlocked, laid bare, when eyelids were truly slipping, and yawns distorting words, we succumbed.

we did what grownups do: we got off the couch, and sensibly climbed the stairs (if 2:30, maybe 3, has any sense at all, what with a whole sunday just ahead).

we kissed goodnight, for that’s what best friends do.

and then we dreamed. of the next night when we’d unspool our hearts and souls, join hands and sail to places that can only be discovered when it’s dark and quiet and you pay no mind to midnight chimes on busy-body clocks.

have you had a slumber party lately? with your oldest bestest friend? or with, perhaps, the ones who shared your dorm, or house, in college? or, maybe, you lucky duck, you have a sister who brings her jammies for the night…
to mix it up here, do you ever think of being married as the longest lasting slumber party in the world? oh, one other thing, i hated slumber parties as a kid. hated the way it made me feel the morning after. hated being the only one who wanted sleep, and didn’t like to get in trouble, despised the scary movies. did you like ‘em? or were you, like me, more inclined toward the one-on-one, more tame, sleepover?