Wednesday, December 30, 2009

You Like Me. You Really Like Me.

Oh my gosh, you guys. Four of you nominated me for this award! Which makes me feel very, very special and pretty and popular (something I did NOT feel at 13)... as well as very, very undeserving considering most of you blog like 8,000% more than I do.

Because I feel so guilty, I will try to follow the rules this time, even though it makes me feel kind of like I'm sending a warm-and-fuzzy blog version of a chain letter. These are the rules:

1) Thank the person who nominated me for this award.
2) Copy the award & place it on my blog.
3) Link to the person who nominated me for this award.
4) Tell us 7 interesting things about yourself.
5) Nominate 7 bloggers.
6) Post links to the 7 blogs I nominate.

So big thank yous to the lovely bloggers below who presented me with the butterflies-caught-in-storm-of-curlicues goodness. Are you already reading their blogs? You should be:

Are You There Youth? It's Me, Nikki: Nikki recaps the best selection of raised-in-the-'80s classics and little-known gems AND she freely call characters out on their cuntery. Dare I say it's a combination that goes together like high tops and slouch socks?

Worst of the Worst Fanfiction: What's better than making fun of yourself and/or Francine Pascal's legion of ghostwriters? Making fun of pervy creative spellers who can't be assed to come up with their own characters!

Living in the '80s and '90s: I just discovered this blog and already have a crush on its snarktastic recaps of the inanity that is Bayside High, among other awesomeness. YES!

Fear Street: I have never read an R.L. Stine book, but I freakishly love this blog and its author's obsession with Stine's mole. (Really, can you blame her?)

And here are seven things about my 30-something self that my 13-year-old self would be shocked to learn—I mean, other than the obvious fact that I am using a COMPUTER to let strangers, and people I know, and BOYS read my diary:

I am not married with a truckload of babies. Thirteen-year-old me thought I'd have at least three rugrats by now, preferably fathered by Joe McIntyre; 30-something me thinks Joey Joe is a bit of a douche. To be fair, I'd still pick him as a baby daddy over some of my other 13-year-old crushes (two words: Vanilla Ice).

I actually like vegetables! When I was 13, the closest I got to a vegetable was a Claussen's dill pickle. I am not exaggerating.

I ride a bike nearly everywhere. (Actually, this may have been predicted once in a round of MASH.) At 13, I loathed physical activity so much that I managed to talk my pediatrician into write me a note excusing me from Gym for the year. True, I was having a lot of asthma trouble at the time, but really, how much running do you do in basketball elimination? Answer: next to none. Instead, my bum-kneed friends and I got to be office aides, delivering notes and forgotten lunches to classrooms all over the building. Best! Gym class! Ever!

I don't have cable. Thirteen-year-old me was committed to a rigorous weekly schedule of television viewing, whereas 30-something me watches less TV than a Scandinavian. (Honestly, 23-year-old me would probably be astonished by this as well. Sometimes I do miss me a little television for women.) However! My brain has retained a staggering amount of trivia from its years in front of the boob tube, and I dream of someday starting a band that plays nothing but '80s sitcom theme songs. No, seriously.

I kinda sorta love karaoke. Despite my yearly plan to form a band, 13-year-old me was actually terrified of singing solo. (Think of me as the Jon Knight of Girls Will Be Girls.) In 8th grade chorus, when our teacher was sussing out the altos and sopranos, I flat-out refused to sing by myself in front of the class. Now? I karaoke only once or twice a year, but I spend countless hours analyzing what makes a killer karaoke tune. Current front-runner for World's Best Karaoke Song (as suggested by my friend Alyssa) is Heart's "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You," a ballad about a woman who bones a hitchhiker when her impotent husband can't give her a baby, then leaves said hitchhiker a mysterious letter about gardening. Needless to say, THE CROWD LOVED IT! Note: "Kiss Me Deadly" and "Hot Blooded" also go over well. You're welcome!

13-year-old me LOVED this song! It was a Pizza Hut jukebox favorite.

I moved to Oregon without dying of dysentery OR a snake bite! When I was 13, all I knew about Portland was that the Quimbys lived there. And that a lot of your oxen might die before you reached Klickitat Street.

I still haven't completed book of my own. But since starting this blog, I've had an idea for one! With, like, an actual plot! And if I can ever figure out what the frig's up with my main character, maybe I'll actually write it!

Now for some shout-outs (forwarding of curlicue-butterfly magic is optional; I think half of you have already received this award):

Not That Kind of Girl: TKOG is on a quest to do 250 uncharacteristic things before the end of August 2010. If you like self-improvement that involves blow job classes, dancing like no one's watching on the JumboTron, and overuse of the word "dude" (which, dude! I totally do!), you should be reading this.

Steam Me Up, Kid: This blog is just no-holds-barred hilarity. Posts include instructions on how to improve your wonk-eye, first-base threesomes, and being the boss of your bodily functions. I kind of want to move to L.A. so I can try to become friends with Becky. Is that weird?

Dibbly Fresh: Snappy, satirical pop culture commentary AND Ann M. Martin bashing? What more can you ask for? Plus, Sadako makes me feel smart, which is not something I often feel when reading about The Baby-sitters Club.

The Diary Project: I love knowing that I was not alone in my all-consuming boy obsession, unwavering love for Beaches, and quest for permed hair—which it turns out I didn't need, as my hair was naturally frizztastic (see photo; that mess is ALL REAL, but it often fooled my hairdressers at Ye Olde Supercuts).

The Dairi Burger: I know you all already read The Dairi Burger; that's probably how you found this blog in the first place. But really, ihatewheat deserves a whole room full of awards for fearlessly reading the dreck that the SVH ghostwriters pass off as literature. ihatewheat, I salute you!

NEXT TIME: I promise to welcome you to Tademy Academy. After that, we'll finally start middle school!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Survey Says

Because we were the epitome of cool, my sister and I had lots—and I mean LOTS—of pen pals in our teen and tweenage years. Writing letters was fun, but sometimes we liked to take it to the next level by creating insightful surveys on our word processor (sample query: "Did Paula Abdul get a boob job or is it trick photography?"). We would distribute lists of these pressing questions to our pen pals near and far, and also to our friends and loved ones. Because we had to get to the bottom of this Paula Abdul boob thing ASAP.

One survey recipient was our younger brother, Will, who was 10 years old when my sister made him fill this out (my surveys had way more 90210-related questions). This, you guys, THIS is what was going on in the minds of fifth grade boys while we were writing them heart-on-our-sleeve love letters imploring them to like us more than Jessica. I offer the following with very little commentary because, seriously, this business was snarky enough already.


name: Will P.

age: 10

date: June 23, 1994

What is the best book you've ever read? Why?
Babysitters Club 9#. Because it's cool.

I don't like the sarcasm I'm detecting in this answer.

[Image courtesy of Are You There Youth? It's Me, Nikki
because my computer thinks there's something sketchy going down at Dibbly Fresh.]

What is your favorite movie? Why?
Bugsy Malone. Because they have a marshmallow fight.

What is your favorite song and album and group?
New Kids on the Block. Because their hip.

Remember, this was 1994, not 1989. New Kids on the Block were not even remotely hip anymore. Good-bye, rattails and topless hats. Hello, flannel!

Who is your favorite actor?
Steve Urkel

Working toward that Oscar nod!

Are there any famous people you despise? Who and why?
No one

What qualities in a person really make you sick?
When they drool, chug a pop and throw-up, and eat.

Who are some of the people you look up to, and why?

Would you rather be deaf or blind? Why?
Blind. Donno?

What are some things you appreciate about the opposite sex?
I don't have to have the babies.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
NO. Because I'm blind.

What is the sweetest thing anyone's ever done for you?
My mom made me.

Do you think you'll ever find anyone you'll want to spend the rest of your life with?
NO Yes

Are you going to raise your children different than your parents have raised you? In what ways?

If you could change anything about yourself, physically, mentally or emotionally, what would it be?
I want to be a Superman!

What do you think people's first impressions of you are?
I'm weird

What is something you usually don't tell people about yourself?

What do you want to be when you grow up?
A man and a dog.

Dare to dream!

What are your plans for the future?
To meet a woman and a loving dog that is immortal and will massage.

??? I don't know what that means, and I'm pretty sure I don't want to find out.

What was the best year of your life? Why?
Kindergarden because Mrs. Collins was sexy


That's kindergarten teacher Mrs. Collins with my brother's future girlfriend. Also, yes, our school mascot was a sweater-wearing falcon with a backpack. Don't even try to front.

What is your most prized possession?
My tiger.

Will had a pet rabbit named Tiger, so I think this is—dare I say?—not a joke.

If your house was burning down and you could save two things, what would they be?
Animals and family

If you were going to be sent off to a deserted island for a year, what two people would you bring? Why?
Madonna and Mrs. Collins

Ahh, the Mrs. Collins joke. It never gets old!

Who do you get along with best in your whole family?
My mom

What is something you've always wanted to do, but never have?
Been a billionaire

What is the biggest problem facing the world?

thank you. iI hope you enjoyed it.

You suck!

Yeah. He ended the survey by correcting our capitalization and then insulting us. (Don't worry, I'm going to get him back by posting pictures of him dressed up like a girl. You can look forward to that in a future post.)

However, I want you to know that it was not ALL smartassery with young Will. He had his first "girlfriend," named Morgan, around this time. When we went on vacation that summer, he made the awesome mistake of leaving his journal lying around where we could see it—awesome because we saw that he had written this: "All I can think about is Morgan, Morgan, Morgan." So I guess preteen girls didn't have the market on melodrama cornered after all. (Sadly, the journal made no mention of immortal massage dogs.)

This was the same vacation in which Will spent the entire two-day car ride home hocking loogies into a cup because he was convinced that spitting would prevent him from having to pee. I think we were all too grossed out to explain the details of his faulty logic.

NEXT TIME: Guest author Kylie teaches us that if you want to be popular at Tademy Academy, you have to prepared to dump a little chili on someone else's head. And no, that's not a metaphor.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dear Sig: The Saga Continues

When last we left the saga, Cleveland's lake effect snow had failed to providentially strand my fourth grade crush, Sig, at my house mid-blizzard. (Thanks for nothing, Lake Erie.) I was 99% sure that Sig was into me, because sometimes he would, like, look at me in class. The problem: He also tended to gaze at my friend Jessica. Another problem: Jessica liked him too. And also: Jessica was, oh, only the most lusted-after girl in school.

So we did what any girls in our situation would do: We wrote Sig a letter telling him we liked him. Both of us. Me and my infinitely more alluring romantic rival. Together. Because I was a genius. And then we were like, "Which one of us you do like—that is, like like—more? OUT WITH IT, MAN!"

But Sig was not playing our game. He wrote back saying that we were both pretty (wooooooo!), and that he liked BOTH of us and couldn't decide. Which was a) totally baffling (really? he didn't like Jessica more? JESSICA??) and b) totally frustrating.

It also meant that the letters continued. Because Jessica may have been a gajillion times more popular with the boyfolk, but I could surely win him over with my... erm... heart-shaped stationery? The following letter was typed (how casual!) on paper that looked like this:

Raise your hand if you're embarrassed already.

Pre-letter disclaimer: Obviously I never sent this to him, because I still have it in my possession. What I don't know is whether or not I mailed off a later draft. Please, God, I pray that I did not.

July 15, 1988
Dear Sig,

Tomorrow I'm going on vacation. We're going to (in order) Brockport (to see my friends Brendan and Caitlin), Canada (to camp), Gasport (to see my cousins, Bonnie and Jimmy), and Lockport (to see my cousins, Stephanie and the twins, Steven and Michael).*

*The "ports" are in New York.

Yes, my letter included a footnote. Did I know how to woo a 10-year-old boy or WHAT? Oh, and a previous letter must have suggested a picture exchange, because after the really thrilling description of my upcoming trip, I launch into this:

Oh, I don't have any decent pictures to send you right now. I'm going to try and get my mom to take some acceptable ones while we're away.

Er, like this one?

There is absolutely nothing acceptable about those bangs.

Oh, I'm sorry, did I forget to mention that this was the Worst Cut Era? Yeah. You know how people sometimes refer to giant '80s bangs as "The Claw"? Mine were more along the lines of "Satan's Gimpy, Gnarled Hand." So I had that going for me. But wait! There's more!

My boyfriend thinks I looked like one of the Ramones.
Every young girl's dream!

Oh yeah, these pictures were going to make him forget allllll about Jessica. Also, notice how I'm close-lipped in all of the shots? That's because I'd recently acquired a mouthful of metal. Hot, right? Jessica WHO??

Are you going to send yours? The three of us, you know, you, me, Jessica, should all get together soon and talk.

I'm sure Sig was just counting down the days until he could be hounded about this in person instead of via the USPS.

Have you told anyone about this? Well, Jess and I told Katie, the three of us are best friends. I doubt there's anything left to say.

Good instinct, Sada! Keep it short and sweet. The less you say, the less likely you are to utterly humiliate yourself. Just sign your name and we'll—oh CRAP—

Well, I just wish you'd like me more than Jessica.
Everyone likes Jessica. The boys, I mean. When they look at me they say, "Ew, gross, contact" or something similar.

"Contact" was something that you would say to protect yourself against the germs of unpopularity. Like, say someone's hand accidentally brushed against [Insert name of unpopular child] while waiting in line for the slide; that person would then have the [Name of unpopular kid] Touch, and would have to rid him or herself of said Touch by thrusting it upon an unsuspecting victim. The ONLY WAY to avoid getting The Touch was to yell, "Contact!" or, if you were feeling charitable, "Contact! Detours! Force field!" If I remember correctly, this was a more powerful form of Contact that would also protect any friends in your immediate vicinity.

So, to sum up: Everyone with a wang lurves Jessica, and they find me so repellent that they must verbally arm themselves against my cooties. Just, like, in case you forgot, Sig! (You guys, I don't even know. Was I going for the PITY LIKE? Oh, the shame.)

It's nice to know that someone, besides my family and friends thinks I'm pretty.

Because—news flash!—boys think I am The Ug.

I think you're cute. Us girls call boys "cute" if they look good.

Good thing I let him in on that big secret! Jessica recently reminded me of a later incident in which we were walking to her house and Sig had joined us (hi, he obvs liked us!), and we started telling him how comely he was.
comely adj. Vocabulary word courtesy of Judy Blume. According to Rachel Robinson, it means "attractive . . . good looking . . . cute . . ."
Shockingly, Sig managed to glean the meaning from context. The context being along the lines of
"Oh, Sig, you are soooooooOOOOOOOoooooooo COMELY!"

And then I ended the letter with:

L*O*V*E? I'll tell you what I loved: asterisks. Sweet Jesus.


P.P.S. If you get a letter from Rachel, don't write her back.

Because no letter is complete without a dig at Rachel! I think that ultimately only a couple of letters were exchanged (I don't see why Sig wouldn't have written back ASAP!), but I do remember that he gave both Jessica and I pink-and-purple friendship bracelets that he made for us. (ZOMG, a boy made me something! This was almost as cool as being in a skateboard gang!!)

I didn't keep a diary in fifth grade, but there's a mention in my school journal about Sig and his puppy stopping by Jessica's house while I was over (me: apparently unfazed that he was randomly stopping by Jessica's? or did we invite him?). That year Sig played the lead in our school play, The Emperor's New Clothes. Of course, he wasn't actually NAKED, but we had to pretend that he was. You can imagine the maniacal giggling that occurred.

And I would insist on going to Family Skate at the ice rink every freaking week because Sig went too and sometimes he would skate with me for a bit (woooooooo! again). The most dramatic Family Skate event involved my friend Casey, who broke her leg while skating with me and had to be carried off the ice by Sig's dad—oh, the mortification! Afterward Sig skated up to me and said, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall, huh?" I still don't know what he meant by that. In hindsight, I think he was just trying to make conversation, but in the moment, I was infuriated that he dare cast aspersions on my injured friend, and I came back with this incredibly witty rejoinder: "Well, I guess Casey must have a really big LEG then!!!" Um... ? What does that even MEAN?? (I don't know, but I was definitely mad at him for, like, at least two days.)

I do have some dishy materials from a sleepover with Katie. First of all, we rated ten of the boys in our class (as preteen girls are wont to do) on a scale of 1–10. I rated Sig the highest with a 9½; the baby-faced new boy Aaron, who lived a few doors down from Sig, a 7; and the remaining boys in the 2 to 6 range. Harsh! Katie, meanwhile, gave Sig a 10, when she supposedly liked Nathan—whom she only rated a 9! WTF, Katie?!

Also, to answer your question: YES, for some reason I have kept a copy of fifth grade boy ratings for TWENTY YEARS. There's obviously something wrong with me. But! Below the Boy Ratings, there's a list of the following:

People (or things) that go together in our grade:

1. Rebecca and Nathan
2. Sig and Jessica
3. Katie and Chuck [Chuck was the "hot stable boy" where Katie rode horses. Except for the part where he didn't actually exist. We started to get suspicious when we realized his letters were all written in Katie's handwriting.]
4. Rachel and Yoav
5. Michael and Laura [crossed out, I suppose, after they "broke up"]

But yes, did you see #2? It's true. The inevitable happened: Sig asked Jessica to "go with him." I was crushed. (Actually, I was home sick that day, and I don't really remember what happened. But I'm sure I was crushed.) And my family had just moved onto his very street! But, oh, what did it matter now?

I tried briefly to focus my attentions on Aaron, the new boy, despite the fact that he was only a 7. And by "focus my attentions" I mean "fantasize that I might lure him to my house to play a few rounds on our awesome new mini-pinball machine." But then all the other girls decided they liked Aaron too (one friend even puffy-painted "I ♥ Aaron" on her socks, so you know she meant business), so I was like, screw this. Plus, living on Sig's street meant that sometimes he would bike past my house. Like, while Bon Jovi was poignantly singing "I'll Be There for You" in the background. I swear to you.

So, he may have picked Jessica, but whatever—this shit was clearly meant to be. I knew it; Jon Bon Jovi knew it; and in his heart, I believed Sig knew it too. On the other side of the "Boy Ratings" paper is a list entitled "Who Boys Like," and you know who's listed under Sig? That's right: Jessica and Sada. I was keeping the dream alive, you guys. KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE.

The saga? To Be Continued...

Also, in my dedication to embarrassing myself as much as humanly possible (and because, hey, I wondered what he was up to), I did it: I TRACKED SIG DOWN. And I sent him a link to The Sig Saga. Oh yeah I did. However, because he has the memory of a normal person instead of, like, a freaky computer elephant (ahem), he didn't recall too many of the specifics. He did say: "Offhand what I remember is having to deal with the barrage of notes and letters and phone calls from you girls when all I really wanted to do was jump my bike off the curb or play street hockey." Which... yep. That sounds about right.

One of the best parts, though, is how I finally found him: through my third grade crush, Andrew. That's right, people. I've been e-mailing all the boys I had the hots for in elementary school. I even confessed my crush-of-old to Andrew (he was not, I'm pleased to report, the recipient of any third grade letters) and he wrote back that he had a crush on—I am not even making this up!—JESSICA. Of course he did.

NEXT TIME: A rare look into the mind of the fifth grade boy! My brother proves that snarkiness runs in the family.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fashion Backward

You guys? Why do I have this blog format where I write novella chapter book–length entries? It's killing me. Not to get all Woe Is Me on you here, but the main reason for my spotty blog performance is that I have chronic forearm pain. (Starting a blog? Maaaaybe not the most brilliant idea I've ever had.) And I have two jobs! I don't want you guys to think I'm just lazy. Okay, SOMETIMES I'm lazy, but other times I'm like, "I want to blog! I want to blog! Blogging... blogging... Ouch! Ouch ouch OUCH." And then I have to stop. And wait a few days. And try again. So, I'm sorry. Rest assured that even when I'm not blogging, I am thinking about blogging and yearning to recount my prepubescence in embarrassing detail.

I have a bigger entry in the works, but I thought I'd get this little one out for you in the meantime. Because some of you have been writing very nice things about me on your blogs (thank you!), and I'm feeling especially guilty. This one is dedicated to That Kind of Girl, who I would totally give a blog award to if I had the arm capacity for such a thing (speaking of which, Sadako, I owe you one too) and fashion blogger Sara M., who apparently doesn't realize I was born all the way back in 1977. Thank you, Sara M., THANK YOU. For that I am bringing you this fashion-tastic post.

So you know how when I "wrote a book" (is there any way I can not put that in quotes?), I often liked to whip up a nice visual representation of my protag? Well, sometimes I'd just do the character illustration and skip the whole "book" part. I was crazy like that! This post features such potential heroines in search of a plotline.

Oh, and the best part is that they're all drawn on random Dun & Bradstreet paper that has this awesomeness at the top:

Only imagine it SUPER GINORMOUS.

My keys to success? First off, character names stolen from Can't Buy Me Love (click the images to enlarge; if you suffer from an irrational fear of poofy hair and geometric-shape earrings, DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK):

Why yes, I'd like to spill a glass of wine on ALL OF THIS, thanks!

So instead of Miss Popularity, my Cindi Mancini is... um... a moderately snazzy Hasidic Jew? Unless you have some other explanation for that skirt? Actually, I'm not convinced that Cindi Mancini is her name. It might just be the name of both of her arms and her right leg. And the utterly bewildered rabbit on her chest. But if so, what's the abandoned sailor shirt's name? Ronald? No no, you're right, it's DONALD.

Next up is another Cindy. A New, Cool, and IMPROVED Cindy. (Wait, I just realized that all of these gals have roughly the same name. But such different styles! *cough*)

Really? Huh. I'm not so sure I want to see the old Cindy...

Nothing like announcing how cool and improved you are VIA SWEATSHIRT. Baby Hands here looks like she's struggling to maintain balance. That bow on her head may be a little too tight...

Also, if The Make-Out Team ever breaks up, my next band is definitely going to be called Baby Hands and the Vast Improvements.

And then, you guys? Then? There's Cynthia Viot (not Voit, VIOT), who has outfits for all seasons and time. Don't believe?

For all time! But especially for four o'clock.

Where do we even start? How about with the Stylish ("Mini-mini") look. Which... is that a joke? Because this is Cynthia Viot! All of her looks are stylish!

Anyone else picturing this on Verne Troyer right now, or is it just me?

"Mini-mini" should maybe be renamed "Quintessentially '80s." Side pony? Check. Off-the-shoulder sweater dress? Check. Oversized belt, squiggly earrings, and stack of bangle bracelets cutting off circulation to a critical limb? Check, check, and CHECK! (Helloooo, her arm is quite clearly stunted.) The flats with anklets are just a bonus.

But the "Mini-mini" is not for every day. No sir. For that we have the "Totally Me."

More like "Totally Saddlebags."

Totally mom capris and geyser hair! And weird bug-eyed monkey face! That's totally me! But look how I've brought the geometric shapes and the squiggles TOGETHER AT LAST.

And now for a completely different season (oh, wait), it's Casual Summer, aka "Sunglasses":

Dude. Her sunglasses might be wearing sunglasses.

She's wearing sunglasses, her shirt's wearing sunglasses, and her belt is made o' sunglasses. It's not clear what her earrings are, but I'd say sunglasses are a safe bet. Say, what's that you've got behind your back, Cynthia? Oh, let me guess... [Note: I meant sunglasses, but if you were thinking "baby hands," you're probably right too.]

But it's not all fun and games with Miss Viot. Sometimes she has to go to school, and that's when she reveals the "Uniformed" look:

"You're taking a fashion risk. I like that."

Everything I knew about school uniforms I learned from watching Girls Just Want to Have Fun. Namely, that they were better when fastened with Velcro and accessorized with giant dinosaur hair clips. Or, as pictured here, just plain ol' giant hair.

Actually, I'm noticing that Cynthia's hair always reaches to her shoulders, no matter what her hairstyle (one exception: the Hair Fountain, which... yeah, you know you want to scroll back and look at that mess again). Huh. How does that work?

When she's not in school, sometimes our girl just has to fancy it the hell up, with "Bows, Bows, Bows" (really, is there any other way?):

That's a fuck-ton of bows all right.

The bow epaulets are particularly nice. Bows: the '80s equivalent of bling?

The real question is how did this deserve three "bows" when Casual Summer got but a single "sunglasses"?

NEXT TIME: The Sig Saga continueth. For real, you guys. For really real.

In the meantime, you might enjoy Psyched on the Prairie, wherein a grown woman is reading all of the Little House books for the first time (and learning a lot about pig anatomy, woolen veils, and Pa's beard in the process), or the pee-your-pants hilarious Awesomely Bad High School Diary trilogy on Steam Me Up, Kid. Click here for parts 1, 2, and 3, respectively. I only WISH I'd written poetry about the possibility of boys scamming on me! So many opportunities lost... So, so many...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Strangest Thing Happened on Halloween

According to my fifth grade journal, my three favorite books that year were Just As Long As We're Together, The Search for Grissi, and Sister of the Quints. You see, I was into realistic fiction. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed a good yarn about dolls reenacting murders or a ghost who turned roses to mush while helping to uncover some hidden savings bonds as much as the next gal, but horror? Suspense? Mystery? I wouldn't say they were "my thing." So when we had a class assignment to write a Halloween story, I tried to come up with something I could actually imagine taking place. The result: The Strangest Thing Happened on Halloween.

Maybe I should have defined strange, because if we're being honest, stranger things have definitely happened on Halloween. Stranger things might even be happening to you, like, right this very second. Cleaning out my refrigerator? Possibly stranger that what happens in this story.

Okay. Now that your expectations have been sufficiently lowered, proceed.

The Strangest Thing Happened on HALLOWEEN...

This book is dedicated to Katie, who thought up the name, "rat zoid"

Okay, let me start my story. My name is Carol. All of this started when I had my Halloween sleepover...

(First, let me tell you I invited: My best friend, Tina, plus: Janey, Melissa, Ginger, and Tracy.)

It's worth noting that each girl's name is penciled in a different handwriting. Melissa cops the obligatory Stacy McGill, but it's Tracy who takes it to the next level. Her T looks like it was crafted out of cotton candy, and the Y is so curlicued that it resembles a snail shell more than a letter.

They all came.

The first thing we did was eat. We ate: pepperoni and sausage pizzas from "Little Caesars," 1 liter of Minute Maid orange pop, 1 liter of Coke, and ice cream for dessert.

Apparently none of them know how to
make their own dip. Amateurs.

Then we changed into our pajamas (which was mostly shirts). We set up the sleeping bags. I popped "Beetlejuice" into the VCR.

Let me clarify this "mostly shirts" thing. Because there will be no pillow fights leading to preteen make-out sessions here. In 1989, it was perfectly acceptable to wear just a shirt to a sleepover. That's because the shirt would be approximately 25 sizes too large for you and come down past your knees. My best (read: hugest) one was purchased at Cedar Point, after my sister and I had been soaked to the frigging bone on the Log Ride and desperately needed a wardrobe change. So, technically, grossly oversized shirts were not just for sleepovers. They could, in a pinch, be worn around amusement parks.

Halfway through, my big brother, Rob (he's in high school) came down and insisted that after we watched the second movie (Psycho III) to come up to his room.

After Beetlejuice, we couldn't stop exclaiming over what we liked best. The special effects were so neat!


I excused myself to make some popcorn. I came back soon, carrying a huge bowl of buttered, salted popcorn.

Where were they? The girls had disappeared!

"I VANT TO SUCK YOUR BLOOD!" cried Ginger, cackling. The other girls followed her lead.

I turned around quickly. They had come out of thin air. NO KIDDING!

I screamed. I didn't mean to, I just did. It was like some demon... "I'm posessed!" I shrieked.

By that time Tracy had had it. She fell on the floor. She was crying. WAIT A SECOND! She was laughing so hard she was crying!

"Oh, come on, Carol, can't you take a joke!" exclaimed Tina. She trying to ignore hysterical Tracy.

"Oh, get off it, Tracy!" snapped Melissa. "Grow up!" Tracy immediately stopped.

"Boy." I heard her mutter.

Well, I don't care if they dot their i's with hearts or not, Tina and Melissa seem like a-holes.

Obviously, Janey had to
[I believe she'd "had it too"] because she said, or she cleared her throat and said, "Let's watch Psycho III." She rolled her eyes at the same time.

So we did.

Melissa pouted because she couldn't eat the popcorn (braces). Janey refused to go to the bathroom without someone guarding the door. The bathroom scene had really freaked her out.

During the bathroom scene, someone is beheaded while, ahem, using the facilities. A screening of Psycho III pretty much guaranteed that at least one sleepover attendee would be afraid to pee for the rest of the night.

While Tracy guarded, the rest of us went into my room. Janey didn't know the vent in there led to the vent in the bathroom.

Really? The vent in the bathroom leads to her bedroom? That sounds awfully unfortunate for Carol. In my house, there was a vent in the living room that led to the basement, and this architectural boon figured prominently in many of our haunted houses.
In my mind, vents were an obvious vessel for auditory terror.

"Oooweee!" moaned Melissa.

"Auuuiiiauuuuiii!" groaned Ginger.

"Ab Eb Eeb! Ab Eb Eeb!" cried Tina.

"Eeeeek! Eeek!" I shrieked.

I'm sorry, but Ab Eb Eeb? AB EB EEB? What is THAT?!

Janey freaked. She flushed the toilet, fumbled with the lock, and freed herself.

We confessed.

Janey cried.

After she was comforted we went to Rob's room. Where was Rob? Everybody was disappearing! The door creaked open...

And a squeaking bat flew into Melissa's face! She screamed. It flew into the hallway and out an open window.

Meanwhile, we all crept inside.

We'd only gone a few steps when my foot fell in something wet. I put my bare foot back into the hall; into the light.

I screamed. BLOOD! There was blood on my foot!

The first thing I thought was Rob. A bat. A puddle of blood on the floor. It all fit. The bat must've bitten Rob!

Then I remembered.

It was Halloween. I was having a sleepover. We had just watched a scary movie. I had a rat zoid for a big brother.

"A haunted house!" Ginger squealed with delight. "I can't wait!"

So we went back in.

My sister and I were WAY into haunted houses... as long as we were staging them ourselves. Did we like being scared? Mehhhh. But we loved to scare the crap out of others! Or, uh, try.

A Few Essential Items for Your Haunted House:

1) A well-placed vent (as discussed earlier).

2) Creepy sound effects. Our tape of
Disney's Thrilling, Chilling Sounds of the Haunted House (surprisingly awesome and now available on iTunes!) was a favorite, although we did make our own tape at one point. Feel free to get creative.

3) Rubber bats. We usually had a few on hand.

4) Toys covered in blood. We liked to decapitate Barbies—plus remove all of their limbs—and then depict their wounds using red nail polish. (Warning: It turns out that nail polish is kinda difficult to remove, so your Barbies may forever after have a bit of a "bloody" look.)

We all shrieked while walking through the blood. Then things started happening. Things I can't explain.

Janey tripped over a dead body.

She freaked again. She fell on the floor, crying over and over, "I swear to god I stepped on a real hand!" But we had to go on. Rob would brag at school.

They were scared, but they had to keep going ON PRINCIPLE, guys. Also, "I swear to god I stepped on a real hand!" seems like an unwieldy phrase to repeat. I swear to god I stepped on a real hand! I swear to god I stepped on a real hand! I swear to god I stepped on a real hand!

A monster grabbed Tina. She shouted, "Get off, you idiot!"

While at the same time a huge something flew into Ginger and Tracy became entangled with a real live snake.

We freed ourselves and left, shouting unkind, unladylike things at Rob's room and at Rob, wherever he was.

"I swear to god I stepped on a real hand!"
"Ab Eb Eeb!"

Well, we tried to forget the haunted house.

We ate, gossiped, played Truth or Dare, told ghost stories
[yeah, that'll help you forget the haunted house all right], raided the refridgerator, told secrets, said nasty things about Rob, and etc. until 5.

But we still wonder what had happened.

Where had Rob been?

Were there spirits at my sleepover?

Were there demons running the haunted house?

Was it blood that stained Janey's P.J.'s?

Was the scratch on Tina from a real monster?


Um, do we really need to call Robert Stack in on this one?

Because my questions are more along the lines of:

Where were Rob and Carol's parents?

Do Rob and his friends really have nothing better to do than scare a bunch of 10-year-old girls by playing dead and throwing borrowed snakes around?

Is there such thing as remote-controlled bats?


*Well, I don't have any final word on Rob and his reptile-renting habits, but I'm thrilled to report that the answer to the remote-controlled bat question is a resounding YES!

Carol, have you ever thought that maybe Rob just loves technology?

So I guess... kudos to Rob? I mean, that elaborate haunted house definitely put my vent wailing and quartered Barbies to shame. I just hope it was worth it, Rob. You do realize Janey had to buy a new enormous nightshirt, right? I hope you're proud of yourself.

My teacher's verdict? "Sada, this is WONDERFULLY written." And I got a check PLUS. Booyah!

NEXT TIME: Plan A: I really wanted to reminisce about my Halloween costumes of yore, but all of the Halloween pictures have gone MISSING from my parents' photo albums! So unless Robert Stack steps in to investigate this, I'll probably have to move on to Plan B: a continuation of The Sig Saga, including one of my (thankfully, unsent) letters to my elementary school crush. The shock! The horror! And—most of all—the embarrassment.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Babysitter: Now with 100% Less Babysitting!

Hi. Remember me? Like a month ago I promised you babysitters being stalked by soul-sucking demons from hell? Well, the bad news is that my guest author (commenter extraordinaire Cory) couldn't wait and started posting this story on his own blog. (Really, I have no one to blame but myself.) The good news? We decided to post it here anyway! It's Halloween, people! And everyone loves a good soul-sucking demon!

[Side query: Do we think the parents of Stonybrook, CT, would leave their children in the care of one of Satan's minions? I vote yes, especially if it meant they could get out of taking them trick-or-treating.]

Anyway, Cory wrote this epic in seventh grade (yeah, I'm breaking my own chronology rule—sue me) under the influence of
Goosebumps, Scream, and numerous other horror films involving stupid teenagers, urban legends, and/or Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Cory says: It was originally supposed to be about the old babysitter urban legend, the one about the man calling repeatedly and asking, "Have you checked the children?" It quickly evolved (or is it devolved?) into a story about a demon collecting souls in order to summon Satan to the world and cause mass destruction.

The Babysitter


  • Faith:16yrs old The Babysitter. She is very concerned about her friends.
  • Lily:15yrs old Faith's best friend. She is like Sheep: she does everything Faith does.
  • Kris: 15yrs old Faith and Lily's friend. She is very lazy when it comes to school work
  • River:14yrs old Faith's brother. He and Faith fight a lot.
  • Colby:17yrs old Faith's boyfriend. They are having trouble with their relationship.
  • Lauren:15yrs old Faith's arch nemesis. She and Faith used to be friends.
  • Salem:16yrs old Faith's friend. He often gives advice to Faith and Lily and Kris
  • Drew:5yrs old Faith is babysitting her. She is very spunky.
  • Maryn:8yrs old. Faith is also babysitting her. She thinks that she is too old for a babysitter.

Cory says: I’m a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so you could often find at least one character named after someone on that show. In this story, it's Faith.

Sada says: Hmm, what about the character named after Sabrina the Teenage Witch's pet cat?


"Why does it matter where I was?!!," screamed Faith.
"Bvecause you didn't meet me like you said you would!!!," screamed Colby. "You know what?," said Faith. "I'm sick of this! I forgot, okay!?! But it's too late. I am dumping you!"

Cory says: I doubt people actually say “I am dumping you” when they’re dumping people. I had no experience with relationships when I wrote this, and it shows.

Sada says: No, no, you wrote this in seventh grade, when people actually DO say "I am dumping you" when they're dumping people! Relationships: so much less ambiguous in junior high.

"What?," asked Colby. At first his tone was full of sorrow. But than it turned to anger. Faith could also detect some hate in his voice. "You can't leave me. I'll kill you first."

Cory says: This is the first sign something is wrong. Either Colby is a psychopath, or something else is horribly wrong. "What could it be! Why is Colby acting like this?" That's the reaction I was going for when I wrote this.

Sada says:
My reaction? Colby is a psychopath. Also, "trouble with their relationship" was kind of an understatement.

Faith backed away in fear. He ran toward her. Faith ducked under him. She ran into the kitchen and grabbed a knife. Colby lunged at her as though he was pocessed [Sada says: The key word here is "possessed." Sorry, I meant "pocessed."] She held her knife out but Colby didn't stop. Faith gagged at the sound of ripping flesh.

Cory says: I was apparently a very macabre child. This is supposed to be the second sign that something was wrong, and thus rule out the whole “Colby is a psychopath” theory. However, I’m fairly certain that some psychopaths, if not all, would run themselves into a knife… after all, most psychos aren’t playing with a full deck.

Colby stepped away from her, the knife still sticking out of him. To her surprise, Colby laughed.

Cory says: Finally, I present you with the third sign something is wrong.

"I'm not what you think," he said. His face was immediatly transformed. It was demon like. "You can't win," the demon said. Colby fell to the floor. A sort of spirit left Colby's body. "What happened?," he said. Faith knew at once she had made a terrible mustake. "It's okay," she said. But it wasn't okay. Faith knew it would never be okay.

Sada says: Is Your Boyfriend a Psychopath?: A quick quiz

1. When you dump your boyfriend, what is his reaction?

A. He tells you he'll kill you before he lets you leave him.
B. He tells you he'll kill you before he lets you leave him, and then a demon comes out of his body.
C. He says, "Nuh-uh! Because I'm dumping you first!"

2. You are forced to pull a knife on your man. What does he do?

A. Throws himself on the knife like it ain't no thang.
B. Throws himself on the knife like it ain't no thang, and then a demon comes out of his body.
C. Throws a tantrum until you give him the knife.

3. Let's say you stab the boyf. What happens next?

A. He laughs.
B. He laughs, and then a demon comes out of his body.
C. He laughs and laughs, because the knife was a prop and now there's fake blood all over the place that you'll have to clean up. Ha ha!


Mostly A's: Yeah, your boyfriend is totally psycho.

Mostly B's: Congratulations, your boyfriend is not psychotic! He's just possessed by one of Lucifer's henchmen!

Mostly C's: Are you sure you're dating and not babysitting?

Chapter One

December 1st
10:34 PM

Faith unlocked the door to her house. "Mom, Dad, I'm home," she called out. "Why are you home so late young lady?" asked her dad angerly.

"Colby is in the hospital," she replied, holding back the tears that were welling in her eyes."What happened!," asked her mother, who was clearly shocked. "Well, he was, um, drunk, I think, and he attacked me. I got a knife and he...he...." She could hold back the tears no longer. Her mother held her. "There, there," said her mother soothingly.

Cory says:
Maybe you shouldn't have mentioned that he was drunk. After all, he's only 17 and you're only 16.

Sada says:
I guess compared to the whole "possessed by a demon" thing, getting attacked by your drunken 17-year-old boyfriend is ho-hum? We do find out later that Colby had broken into his parents' wine cellar before The Incident. Demons have very developed palates.

December 2nd
1:23 PM

"That's terrible!," said Lily. "I know,"replied Faith. "I can't believe it either." said their friend Kris. "Can't believe what?" asked Lauren.

"I can't believe that this school is so big yet I keep seeing you," said Lily.

Cory says: Oh, man, this is about to be embarrassing.

"Well I can't believe that you were allowed out of your cage this morning," said Lauren, smiling.

Cory says: Worst. Comeback. Ever.

"Do you wanna start something?," asked Lily.

"Bring it on!," exclaimed Lauren. The girls lunged at each other.

Sada says: GIRL FIGHT! GIRL FIGHT! No, wait, we're getting off-topic. Let's see if we can bring it back around here. The girls lunged at each other, so...

This reminded Faith how Colby had lunged at her. She held her head saying "It's not your fault," silently. Kris seemed to notice that Faith was troubled. "Are you okay Faith?," she asked. Faith sat up. "Yeah," she said,"I'm fine."

Sada says: I don't have a problem! I can stop silently mouthing things to myself whenever I want!

"Whoa, stop!," said Salem as he pushed between Lily and Lauren. They ran around him and fell to the ground, Lauren biting Lily's arm. Salem ignored them this time. "I came over here for a reason, not to mess with these two," he said. "Um Faith, Kris, do you two want to come out to the Pizza Shack tonight?''

Cory says: Yes, I made the Pizza Shack up. I wish I hadn’t, but I did.

".....Sure," said Faith. "It might get my mind off of well, you know."

Cory says: I love how Faith was about to have a nervous breakdown, and now she’s acting like her situation with Colby was just some irritating event that she doesn’t want to think about.

Sada says: Nothing like a trip to the ol' Pizza Shack to help you forget about, you know, how you almost killed your boyfriend, who, you know, attacked you while under the influence of Satanic forces. It's nothing some cheesy breadsticks can't fix!

"Why don't we ask Lily?," asked Kris. "I have a felling that she and Lauren are going to be in detention today." Sure enough, two seconds later a teacher came and gave them detention slips for afternoon detention.

Cory says:
No, Kris doesn't have precognitive abilities. I didn't go that far... in this story, at least.

Chapter Two

December 3rd
12:10 AM

Kris woke up. She looked at the clock on her computer. 12:10 AM! I need to get some sleep tonight, so I better get done with my report.

Kris looked at the computer. Written in large, bold type were the words OUTSIDE.
[Sada says: Isn't that one word?] Kris looked around. No one was there. She decided to go outside.

Cory says: I have no words. Well, I have several, but they all essentially mean “dumbass.”

Sada says: And if you think the demon is technologically savvy now, just wait until he—SPOILER ALERT!—starts contacting his victims via cell phone. Just how extensive IS Verizon's network?

She got there and called out. "Hello? Anyone out here?" No answer.

She walked out, away from the door. It closed behind her. "Oh, crud!" she said. She was locked out. There was an extra key behind her house in the garden. She was going to get it. "If I had just not gone out this afternoon, none of this would've happened," she grumbled. Pizza hadn't gone well.

Sada says: WHAAAT? Pizza Shack didn't help Faith forget about her "relationship troubles"? CRUD! What good are you, cheesy breadsticks? What good, I ask?

Faith was really upset about Colby. He wasn't allowed to have any visitors besides family yet. Faith said she wanted to talk to him. Kris had this feeling that Faith wasn't telling them the whole story about what happened that night.

Sada says: Yeah, if I were her, I'd leave out the "I'm dumping you" part too.

Kris got to the side of the house. When she got to the garden she almost threw up. There lay someone, dead. He was covered in scratches and bruises. He also had some strange markings on his face, and he had many tattoos.

Cory says:
The presence of tattoos was supposed to show that this dead guy was bad news. Now, I have nothing against people with tattoos. I actually have four, my father has eight, and my sister has thirteen. I think I meant for the tattoos to be creepy, stereotypical-gang-member tattoos… not that this guy’s in a gang or anything.

Sada says: I'm picturing prison tattoos. Those are bad news. Or at the very least not so aesthetically pleasing.

Despite the awful smell and the terror that was building inside of her, Kris bent closer to the body.

Sada says:
Gross! Just how long has Bad News Prison Tattoo Guy been dead in Kris's garden?

She saw that the markings on his face looked ritualistic. Suddenly Kris remembered a serious thing. She didn't know why she had forgot it so quickly. Her computer had said "Outside". Someone was lureing her out here!!!!!!

Cory says: Seriously, it took her this long to figure out something was amiss.

Sada says:
I love how it JUST occurred to her. Kris is maybe not the sharpest tack on the bulletin board.

She turned to run. She made it to the back door. Thats when she remebered that both doors were locked! Kris ran to the flower pot that hid the key. She went to grab it when something grabbed her. She turned and saw someone with the face of a demon.

Sada says: Is there some sort of Universal Demon Face that I'm not familiar with?

Does it look like this?

Kris ran to the neighbors yard. Her bare feet were freezing in the new snow that must have fallen when she was sleeping.

Sada says: So. Not only did Kris blindly follow her computer's order to go outside, she then managed to lock herself out in snowy weather sans footwear. Mister demon, sir? This is hardly a challenge.

When Kris got to the door, she banged on it heavily. She pounded it as long as she could before the demon ran to her. "Help me! Somebody please!" The demon started to grab her,but she was prepared this time.

Cory says: I’m confused about what, exactly, Kris was prepared for. There’s no mention of her fighting off the demon or anything.

Sada says: I think that "prepared" may be a relative term. I mean, we are talking about someone who failed to put on shoes before going outdoors in December.

She ran to the woods behind the neighbor's house.

Cory says: Everyone, not just Kris, conveniently lives near a forest.

The police station was just on the other side.

Cory says: Again, very convenient that she has to run through the forest to get to the police station.

Sada says: Convenient for the demon, maybe.

"Mua ah ah ah ah! Demons gone wild!"

Snow as falling again. Lightly at first, but it was very heavy by the time Kris made it to the half way point of the woods. The demon caught up with her than.

Cory says: You'd think a demon, who presumably has supernatural powers, would have caught up to Kris much sooner.

He grabbed her. It's grip was supernatural.

Cory says: Well, at least his grip is supernatural… whatever that means.

He opend a box.

Did it look like this?

Kris felt as if her soul was being absorbed.
Kris fell to the ground, unmoving.

Cory says: I guess the lack of a soul equals unconsciousness. Who knew?

Sada says: If Kris knew, I'm sure she would have forgotten.

That might be the end for this entry, but believe me, my friends, The Babysitter is far from over. Since I've been having a hard time posting even my own writing with any regularity, we agreed that Cory should tell the rest over at his (new!) blog, Things That Are Here and Then Gone. His Part One has even more background info—and, you may not be surprised to learn, many less references to Joe Francis and the Girls Gone Wild empire (in fact, none). Or you can pick up Chapter Three, which contains ACTUAL BABYSITTING, plus a mysterious "lasting sleep" that sounds suspiciously like a coma, here.

NEXT TIME: Unsolved mysteries abound in The Strangest Thing Happened on Halloween, which I promise to post before Halloween.

Yes, I mean THIS Halloween.