The girls were cool with that, especially when I let them make up their own pseudonyms.
Here follow the adventures of Mrs. Hairy Harry Arnold, Mrs. Paul Bear Bryant, Sgt. Drama Queen and the Purple Pickle.
They started out five in number. But they grew restless, and started roaming the neighborhood in search of more girls.
They found one. But she could only stay till dinnertime.
Their numbers shrank again about an hour later, when Girl-Who-Did-Not-Get-To-Pick-a-Pseudonym started throwing up.
I remained vastly outnumbered.
It was the Purple Pickle’s first sleepover. “I didn’t figure we’d actually sleep,” she said.
They did. Eventually.
Heaven knows, they tried to stay awake. Whenever they felt sleepy, they scooted down the hall to the bathroom to splash cold water on their faces.
Sleep eventually won out around 1 a.m.
Early for them, yes, but not for me. I waited them out before going to bed, partly to make sure nobody else threw up, partly because I’d overheard them plotting to sneak downstairs and break into my stash of dark chocolate.
They taught me a few things along the way.
For instance, I had no idea there was a You Tube phenomenon known as “The Annoying Orange.” Or a guy who sings about purple socks and cheese sticks. Or a rapper who’s obsessed with chicken.
Lesson No. 1: Some things are funny only to other sixth-grade girls.
They were so loud, even they realized they were loud. “I’m sorry I’m so loud. I don’t know why I am,” said the Purple Pickle.
Or this exchange: “Shut up!” “Don’t say that; it’s rude.” “Then BE QUIET!”
Lesson No. 2: The noise made by a group of girls grows exponentially rather than arithmetically.
Lesson No. 3: The number of shoes and socks strewn across the floor also increases exponentially.
They pantsed each other. They Heimliched each other. They used their iPods to insult each other. They made jokes about cutting the cake, then cutting the cheese. They stuck “Kick me” signs on each other’s backs. They had sword fights with their table knives.
Lesson No. 4: Some things about sixth grade never change.
We made pizza for dinner, and blueberry and chocolate-chip pancakes for breakfast. They drank all the juice in the house.
Lesson No. 5: Wise chaperones keep a bottle of sangria chilling in the fridge.
They had a Flip video camera. Among the 15 hours of footage they took of themselves, they caught me on camera once or twice, yelling at them to get off the furniture or something or other.
At one point, they quieted down to watch a movie. Three minutes later, the movie player stopped working.
They talked me into letting them play Sardines instead.
If you’ve never played Sardines, it’s like backwards hide-and-seek. One girl hides, the others seek, but whoever finds “it” has to squeeze in and hide alongside.
I never dreamed that many people could fit in my kitchen pantry.
Lesson No. 6: Now I know why my mother never allowed me to have a second sleepover.