sleepover-friends-fight-club-2

If Chuck Palahniuk wrote Sleepover Friends

Stephanie Green’s parents built her a detached apartment in the backyard. Stephanie says she’s been living there six weeks.
I’ve known Stephanie for three years.
This is the first time I’ve heard of the apartment.

On Friday nights, the Friday night Sleepover started. Kate. Patti. Me. The apartment in the backyard. We’d watch tv, make prank calls, apply makeup on each other, and gorge ourselves with food and Stephanie would regale us with questions we didn’t want to think about.
What were we wearing to school on Monday?
What new boy did we like?
….Be careful, she warned. The people we liked may end up liking us.
Instead of answering, we just gorged on fluffer nutter.
Better to fill up the despair with food than think inward to our own existence.

Next Friday we gathered. And the next. Friday Sleepovers became our new unit of time. It was getting harder to live my non-Friday life. One Saturday my mother sent me away from the dinner table because I almost fell asleep in my PB and J sandwich. I sneered at her and a snot bubble exploded out of my nose.
he didn’t mention it to me after that.
At lunch one day Patti pointed out that my sweatshirt had some dried up guacamole on it.

The school cafeteria doesn’t serve guacamole.

The days in between Fridays didn’t seem to matter. Nothing mattered anymore, except Sleepover Friends and her apartment in the backyard. I began to keep track of the days of the week by the color of the jumper our fifth grade teacher wore.

Red. With the little flowers. It must be a Wednesday.

Stephanie and I sit on the stoop outside the school way past the last bell, drinking Capri Suns. “We could make more Sleepover Friends” she tells me with a belch. “We have the people. They’re talking about them at the junior high now.” She throws the shriveled Capri Sun in a perfect arc, landing directly on top of a discarded Lunchables Tray.

I silently seeth. I am filled with rage and bile. What is this? It’s jealousy. I didn’t like the feeling. Sleepover Friends was ours and ours only. It was like a beautiful, individual flower. And Stephanie wanted to make it into a Walmart- franchised, copied, ordinary, with every common kid, jock, nerd….and boys.

It’ll be the first coed Sleepover in the history of the school, Stephanie says. It will be something everyone will remember.

I stand up and begin to aimlessly write on the basketball court with chalk. Where did I get chalk from? We weren’t aloud to take it outside.

Stephanie’s fingers are already stained with chalk.

I write out “eskimo”, “lunchbox”, “parabola”, “starfruit” like they mean something. Like it’s the answer to the whole fucking universe.

“Pete Black wants in” Stephanie says to my back. My bile creeps up to my throat.

Sleepover Friends was feeling less like friends.

—–

On Friday, Patti and Kate are standing outside Stephanie’s private apartment in the backyard,, screaming at Pete Black as he stands perfectly still.

“Go home, you can’t be here” screams Kate.

“We don’t except BOYS in this club, asshole” Pattie says into his ear.

“Stephanie’s parents won’t ALLOW boys to sleep over, you disgusting miscarriage of a deformed elephant” Kate screams in his face.

Stephanie is standing in the doorway, wearing her signature black, white and red and eating S’mores. “It’s part of the ritual,” she tells me, already sensing what I was about to ask her. “You tell them to leave and if they stay, they are ready to be recruited.”

After an hour goes by, it starts to rain. Patti and Kate and I go in, but Pete Black stands in his same posture, even though the rain is gathering in puddles in the pockets of his Bugle Boy pants.

We stay inside and play truth or dare, Two Truths and a Lie. We don’t mention Pete Black.

—-

Pete didn’t show up to school that Monday. Monday meant the blue jumper with the gingham trim. We were studying vocabulary, but I was writing meaningful limericks and handing them out to the class.

There was once a girl who was told to study math
But in protest she refused to ever take a bath
The world’s going to end
Why can’t you comprehend

That everything you do and say doesn’t fucking matter anyway because ot all sounds like the whining of corporate drones sent out on a ledge to junp off like a group of pathetic lemmings

Mrs. Blue Gingham found the Limerick and told me she was calling my mother.
Mother, I repeated the word. I didn’t know the meaning. The only family I knew was Sleepover Friends.

—-

The third Friday after the Limerick incident Pete Black was in Stephanie’s backyard apartment when I arrived with an industrial sized can of Chex Mix..
Pete’s new, Kate said. The first rule of Sleepover Friends is that if you are new, you have to make a prank call..
The second rule of Sleepover Friends is that only one MASH game at a time, Patti added.
The third rule of Sleepover Friends is no shoes, no school clothes, just pajamas.
The fourth rule of Sleepover Friends, snarled Stephanie, is don’t talk about Sleepover Friends.

Just as Pete was about to pick up the phone, it rang.
Lauren, said Stephanie. Pick it up. My hands are covered in cookie dough.

When Stephanie asks, I can never refuse.

Hello?
“Hi honey”. Mrs. Green sounded like she just came from a tupperware party that suddenly turned into an orgy and they all took a blood oath not to tell anyone. “Don’t stay up too late, you have an orthodontist appointment in the morning.”
“Sure.”
“Stephanie, I mean it this time. Be in bed by midnight.”
“What did you call me?” Throats sure can close up quickly.
“Don’t be fresh with me, Stephanie.”

I looked down. My hands were covered in cookie dough.

Sure, mother.Whatever you say.

[Photo made by my friend John.]

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Sleepovers and the City



My first thought for a title was Sex and the Sleepover, but hey, we are dealing with fifth graders. My theory is that every time you have a fictitious group of women who are friends, they all have to fit into certain archetypes. The Madonna/Whore, of course, then the anal retentive one, the nerdy one, the smart one, etc. See The Fabulous Five, Golden Girls, etc. Can’t the smart one also be the whore? I’m just saying. In real life in groups of friends, each person may have a distinct thing about their personality, but hopefully it’s not the only thing about them. And reading this installment of Sleepover Friends, I’m realizing we have a little Sex and the City-ness going on.

Lauren = Carrie. Our fearless narrator. Someone who always relies on their friends to define them as a person. Has lots of boy drama (so does Pete Stone like Lauren or not?). Both have a gluttony for their favorite thing. Carrie: shoes; Lauren: Whatever type of food she can shove down her throat.

Kate = Miranda. The anal retentive, snarky one. Miranda, the high powered lawyer. Kate, the high-powered film expert.

Patti=Charlotte. Okay this one was a bit of a stretch. But, both are the reserved, conservatives of the bunch.

Stephanie= Samantha. Both are, er, shall we say, a bit boy-crazy and always up on latest trends and hot spots. Both also seem to flaunt their wealth. [Steph has her own fricking apt in her backyard, Samantha has a pricey loft in the meatpacking district).

I am glad I reread this one, Stephanie Strikes Back, because otherwise I though the events in the book were a weird acid trip I had as a kid. There’s a new video club at school. [What a totally random idea for a club. These are kids, why not have an art club or something?] but the Mean Girl of the book, Wendy, a sixth grader, doesn’t want babyish sixth graders in the group. The task? Make a documentary? Mmm, kay. Wendy makes a video about her junior high jock boyfriend that sucks.

Meanwhile, the SFs get into zany adventures of their own. They bake a cake for Patti’s brother’s birthday, but Lauren fucks up the recipe and it bakes with a huge crack down the middle. So they make it a dinosaur landscape with volcanoes and shit. Steph bought these cool new products, Sliders, at the mall, which are  zinc oxides in different colors. Why would this product even exist? For lifeguards in 90s movies? The gals paint their faces and act like clowns, and hence Sprakly and Barkly are born, who are Lauren and Patti telling corny jokes. They perform at children’s birthday parties. Gah! How BSC of them!

Stephanie orders a camera from QVC without telling her parents to film it, and of course she does not get in trouble because she’s a spoiled brat and her parents enable her. They show their video at the video club and everyone loves it. And then, the video club is never mentioned again.

Can we talk about Lauren’s pixelated Mickey Mouse sweatshirt?

Best YA Boy Toys, Part One

I’m getting ready to move, and my book collection is all packed, so I can’t read anything this week. So, I’ll combine my two favorite things: countdown lists and horndogging on male celebs.

Best YA Boy Toys, Part one:

10. Jeffrey French, Sweet Valley High; okay, so he makes it on this list from sheer comparison. He’s not as annoying as Todd, he and Liz fight about 2% less, and he actually has some valid interests (photography) and can be rational when Liz gets mad at him. I’m kind of ignoring the whole situation when he reinvented himself as DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Celeb who would play him:

MPG!

9. Pete Stone, Sleepover Friends; feeling kind of weird having a fifth grader on here, but it’s not like I said “hottest boys” or something like that. Pete was man enough to talk to girls like real people and be cool with talking to them. He did have a fling with Jenny Carlin, but then went back to liking Lauren again. No idea why, she’s got zero personality.

Celeb who would play him:

Cody Linley! Holy shit why do I know who this person is!

8. Trevor Sandbourne, Baby-Sitters Club. We don’t really know much about him, but with a name like that, how can you go wrong? He took Claudia to a couple of dances, but I think early on he prank-called her. Oh well.

Celeb who would play him:

One of the Jonas Brothers. I think he’s the oldest.

7. Ernie from Breaking Up With Ernie. This book is kind of obscure, but it’s about this girl who finds her boyfriend Ernie so annoying, she tries everything to break up with him, only to find when he breaks up with her, she wants him back. Supposed to be slapstick, came off more as the gal’s a beyotch and Ernie is just lovable.

Who would play him:

Seth Rogan (xoxoxoxo)

6. Damien from The Vampire Diaries, because he’s the bad guy and way more exciting than that boring Eurotrash Stefan. At least he did something about the gal he wanted, instead of mopey Stefan.

Who would play him:

Louis Garrel: ooh la la!

Stay tuned for the top 5!

Steph’s Big Binge Fest: Sleepover Friends #15 Stephanie’s Big Story

Sleepover Friends is like food and outfit porn for kids. I mean that in a really not sexual way. That’s really the basis for most of them.

The fifth grade is putting together a newspaper for their class. They act like it will be the Wall Street Journal, and not some dinky two-sided xerox that you know it really will be. They all conveniently get jobs that fit their one -dimensional personalties. Lauren will be the restaurant reviewer. Kate will write the advice column (although her identity is a secret), Patti is the editor in chief, and Stephanie will right the “society column. BWAH! Like she will be on the fifth grade party circuit. Well, I eat my words because apparently this school has lots of parties.

Everywhere Steph shows up, Karla Stamos is there, and you know she is a drip because she wears brown and doesn’t have a super-exclusive annoying clique that names themselves. Steph is mad that Karla always has the inside scoop because her aunt and uncle own the party supply store where everyone in Riverhurst goes to get their supplies.

We also get a gastro-sickening account of everything that Lauren has to eat for her review: pizza, pasta, Chinese food, burgers, fries…all in one day.

Barf.

There is a big fight among them for some reason too stupid to get into and they plot to get Stephanie talking to them again while fake-inviting her to a party to cover that they cooked up pretending that their lines got crossed on Stephanie’s wireless phone (this is 1990, cordless phones were like iphones back then).

The girls are spending their first sleepover in Stephanie’s “apartment” that her whipped parents built for her. Then again, they may be smarter than you think because they don’t have to hear her screeching once a month at the sleepovers. I wish I had a place like that. I sometimes think about how my teen life would be different if my parent’s house had a finished basement. When I was at my friends’ houses, all the good stuff happened down there.

The artist on the cover is a genius, because she has captured all of them in poses that totally describe exactly what their roles are.

What an ass, or Sleepover Friends #12 Kate’s Sleepover Disaster

This was a follow up to Lauren’s Sleepover Exchange, where the farm kids from Walden stayed with the gang in Riverhurst. Now they get to go to Walden where taking a week off from school is apparently okay with everyone. What if someone isn’t allowed to go? Do they just not go to school for a week? Anyhoo, they mostly run around the farm and eat like pigs. What a letdown.

The book before this is the one where they all thought that Stephanie’s dad lost his job, when it turns out that Ms. Green was knocked up. So the gals entered all sorts of sweepstakes and they didn’t realize that they ended up winning a burro. Instead of giving the girls a good slap to the back of the head for doing that, the Greens kept the burro for a while, let it destroy their garage and yard, and pay for it to be in a stable. And basically bend over and take it from Stephanie.

Rebecca Newman from Walden agrees to take it, and Mr. Green is all “yay! I’ll rent a trailer and drive five fucking hours to drop you off and deliver this damn animal and then turn around and go right home! Just what I wanted to do!” Because Stephanie is the most spoiled child ever.

So they are at the farm and the stupid donkey (is that synonymous with burro?) keeps escaping. Also, Kate is staying with some girl Wanda whose family are atrocious slobby pigs, which is explained because their mother is away. Which is totally sexist. Stephanie claims she knows all about controlling kids and comes by and bribes the kids to behave by giving them lots of her stylish black, white, and red clothes. I guess Stephanie learned from her parents about buying children’s respect when they gave her her own fucking house for her birthday.

And they eat…a lot. These books are like food porn. They have pancake breakfasts and go to donut shops, have huge turkey dinners and talk about how they constantly eat until they feel sick and want to burst. Can someone teach these girls healthy eating habits? And to stop eating when they are full? This is going to give them problems later on.

And still, parents let these brats get into all sort of mischief and never get mad. During a truth or dare game, Lauren is dared to sneak out to a haunted cabin, and then Stephanie falls in the lake and screams and wakes everyone up at like 2am, especially the farmer parents who have to be up at 4am. And no one is mad. Parents are doormats in this world. apparently.

Sleepover Friends #6, Kate’s Camp-Out

You know, sometimes it’s just really hard to be snarky, because the SFs books are sometimes quite endearing. This time Kate’s family takes the fab four to a lake cabin. Again, with the parents taking their kid’s friends with them. Did anyone ever get so lucky to mooch off their friend’s family vacations. What’s more is that Kate’s dad is all, why don’t you girls have the whole upstairs? The rest of the fam will sleep crammed together downstairs. Whatever.

So, they tell ghost stories, pull pranks on the neighbors kids, hold seances, and solve a crime. Yes, all in about 50 pages. The only thing snark-worthy about this one is after they all sit by the lake eating bagels and cream cheese for breakfast. Lauren suggests a hike and Stephanie gets up and says “I could stand to walk off this breakfast, before it collects on my hips”. Hon, you’re in fifth grade!

Also, the girls look different from cover to cover. And is that Steph with a BLUE nightgown?

Overeaters Nonanonymous, or Sleepover Friends #3, Kate’s Surprise

I would describe this one as CLASSIC Sleepover Friends. As in, has all the hallmarks of the series. Unhealthy amounts of food, sneaking out, parents enabling behavior, fights, parties, shopping, outfits…wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The gals are making avocado face masks, and of course, Lauren wants to eat all of it. They also sneak back to Lauren’s house to watch her brother’s girlfriends’ surprise party. But Bullwinkle, Lauren’s scary Newfoundland dog, sees them and pins them and licks the masks off their faces. That dog scares the crap out of me. Of course, they get locked out of the house and they have to wake up Kate’s parents to let them back in. And of course, the parents don’t seem too mad. Why do they put up with the antics? These girls are not exactly evil, but they do wreak havoc when they have their sleepovers.

Meanwhile, the three are planning a surprise party for Kate, so they have to sneak around and get her present. Kate wants to go to the mall on Saturday morning but the other three were planning on going to get her gift. Steph lies and says she is getting her haircut. Well, the other three go anyway and Kate sees them there Steph has to keep her promise and get her hair cut! The horror! But, she ends up liking it because she thinks it makes her face look thinner. Oy, you’re ten, Steph.

The girls want to buy Kate a Calico kitten from a pet store, but it is expensive (so go to a shelter and get one…this annoyed me) so they get odd jobs to raise the money. Kate sees them hanging around together and gets more and more angry. Sally Mason has a party with seventh graders (WOW!) and they all go, but Kate ignores them and hangs out with the bitchy Jenny Carlin. In fact, the SFs planned on wearing “pants rolled up, two shirts (?) and colored sneaks.” Kate however, hangs with her new friends and wears “colored leggings and dangling earrings”. Um, that’s kind of how I dress everyday.

The kitten was sold so Lauren’s mom adopts a whole boxful of kittens. Because it’s all about their parents catering to every whim and then some. They use their hard-earned money to get Kate a singing telegram, a heart shaped pizza, and an ice cream cake. All is well and they sleep over Kate’s house the night after they had their sleepover. How is this healthy for children to stay up all night two nights in a row?

I saved the best part for last- the disgusting amounts of food that they consume. It’s really ridiculous and I never realized it the first time around. So, at the first sleepover of the book, they have marshmallow fudge, Lauren’s bacon and sour cream dip, a basket of BBQ chips, and an extra-large bottle of diet pepper. Haven’t these girls ever heard of popcorn? Or veggie sticks? After Kate gets mad at them, they do some comfort eating: two big bowls of Caramel popcorn, Dr. Pepper ice cream floats, plates (plural!) of nachos made with corn chips and nacho cheese, and a plate of chocolate chip cookies. For three girls! And then the next day, they all eat the pizza and entire ice cream cake! I especially love consuming food, but I got nauseous reading this. I am not saying that they should all be on diets, but all this sugar and fat plus the lack of sleep every weekend can’t be good for growing children. Again, can the parents step in and monitor this? Probably not. They are too busy building houses in their backyard for their eleven year old daughters.

Edit: I had a conversation about this post with someone, and I just wanted to add that I am criticizing their food consumption from a health and reality perspective. When I hear about eight year olds on diets, I want to rip my hair out. But when these girls do this, it will set them up with a really unhealthy relationship with food.  And they always seem to eat until they feel sick. Wtf is that about? Clearly, as if you couldn’t tell already, I am far from a Wakefield figure. Actually, I am the same size as the Wakefields, maybe both of them together.

I also foget to comment on the cover! Ummmmm, Lauren and Patti look 18. We finally see the infamous Roger, who looks younger than the gals. He’s the one inside holding the cake. I’m not impressed.

The farm kids come to visit, or Sleepover Friends #10: Lauren’s Sleepover Exchange

The gals’ school is having their penpals from Walden stay with them during the week. First of all, why? They claim it is for the Walden kids to each them more about their farming life. Also, are they allowed to miss of a week of school to do this?

There are like thousands more characters in this one. All of them get to host someone except Patty. Lauren’s guest is some girl named Annette who is totally prissy and snotty. Turns out she is just sheltered. Patti and Lauren teach her to play baseball and all is well. Jenny Carlin has Rebecca Newman and acts like an ass and Rebecca ends up staying with Patti. Steph’s gal Molly is a perfect fit: They are both airheads who love shopping.

The girl had black hair in a braid and round glasses with red frames. She was wearing high-wasted black paints with yellow suspenders, a white sweatshirt with yellow polka-dots, and yellow sneakers with a red stripe around the soles.

It’s clown couture!

Oh, also there is a guy named Reggie Bennett who is from Walden who everyone has a crush on. In the descriptions, he seems to look exactly like my elementary school crush, so I squeeeeeed when I first read this.

Oh, and of course they have a big sleepover together in Patti’s attic. Rebecca tells the scariest fucking story ever, about a big fat white hand that haunts a young woman and eventually strangles her. Also, Patti’s parents are on crack.

I finished this one in 14 minutes and 45 seconds. Even as a nine year old, I felt they kind of skimped on these. They could certainly add more plot twists!

The Quarks Club, or #13 Patti’s Secret Wish

It’s a small pic, but the cover of this one blew my mind. The gals are spying on Patti from a book store, and you can see the books displayed are popular series books from the same era, like the BSC, the Gymnasts…and the Sleepover Friends. Wait, HUH? How is that possible? The book that they are in is a book in their world? Does that mean if they see that book a vortex to an alternate universe will open up? It blew my mind when I first saw that.

Anyway, Patti is being all secretive and sneaking off somewhere after school, and won’t tell the others, so they spy on her. She is spending time at the University, with an older, cute man and they think it is because Patti lurves him. Turns out she’s in the Quarks club, a special science club for smart kids and the guy is their teacher. Go, Patti! I love how they assume that Patti is meeting up randomly with some twenty-year old guy.

Also, Stephanie’s birthday is coming up, and she thinks her parents forgot because they are too busy thinking about their new baby and the addition they are putting on the house. Turns out that they surprise Stephanie with…her own separate house in the backyard? WTF? Why would you give that to an eleven year old? They say it’s so she will have a place of her own when the baby comes. AND they rent out the Pizza Palace for her surprise party. I know Mr. Green is a lawyer, but come on now. She is so spoiled. Also, once she becomes a teen, she will basically be bringing her friends back there and doing god knows what.

I was so jealous of Stephanie.

Hey Dude! or Sleepover Friends #16, Kate’s Crush

Just some SF tidbits: Merrie was gracious enough to dig up the recipe for Lauren’s favorite dip, from the Super Sleepover Guide:

Lauren’s Onion Soup-Olives-Bacon-Bits-and-Sour-Cream Dip

1 envelope onion soup mix

1 small can pitted black olives

1/8 cup prepared bacon bits or 3 strips bacon, fried crisp

2 cups sour cream

Slice 10-12 olives into small pieces. Mix together everything and try not to eat it all before your guest arrive. The Sleepover Friends like this dip best with barbecue potato chips, but try corn ships or chopped veggies.

Sounds like the appetizer at a bulimic’s convention. Just sayin’.

Also, I just bought these new Vans (I own like eight pairs of Vans) and I actually thought, “hey, these look like something Stephanie would wear because it looks liker her bedspread”. I am going to die alone.

I just reminded myself of that show Hey Dude with Blossom’s boyfriend and Christine Taylor and some gal named Brad. Anyhoo…

The gals are off to a Dude ranch with Stephanie’s grandmother. Why in the hell in YA novels did families take their kids friends on vacation? And why the hell does Nana want four girls with her? Anyway, they do fun dude-ranchy stuff like ride horses and take a boat out to an island and get semi-stranded on an island with tarantulas. They also meet a boy named Keith who is with his family who is really mean and never talks to them.

Stephanie gets the black and white horse to ride, natch.

The gals get riding lessons and every time they go Kate gets a headache and leaves to go to the lodge. The other gals think it is because she has a crush on Keith and is going to hang out with him. Turns out that Kate is just scared of the horses and is afraid to admit it. She also finds out that Keith just got braces and is embarrassed by them and doesn’t want to tell anyone. Actually, he and Pattie hit it off and talk about fossils.

I love how these fifth graders are more successful and proactive at meeting men then I am.

The cover: Patti (who I am assuming is the one on the left) never looks the same from cover to cover. Lauren looks annoying. Kate looks like a celeb I can’t think of right now. Steph’s wearing her favorite colors of course!