The Time I Surfed Down a Staircase
Birthday parties as a pre-teen involved extremely girlish slumber parties. This was no exception at my house, despite my dad’s slightly OCD tendencies. Before the other girls arrived, he gave me a list of things that were not to be touched, and items that, if damaged, would result in my immediate death. The list was awfully long for a group of ten 11-year-old girls.
The party was confined to the basement, with my Dad theorizing that we couldn’t cause much damage down there. He would soon prove himself wrong.
It’s amazing how an entire night of entertainment can be created as long as you have a video camera. In an unusual show of generosity, my dad had lent us his old camcorder for the evening. I was told that I was the only one allowed to operate it. This did not happen.
Terrible skits were planned, acted, and filmed. I distinctly remember one girl acting out a fake condom commercial, and commenting on the saltiness of sperm. I was completely lost, but evidently some of these fellow 11-year-olds had a hell of a lot more experience than me in that realm. Scary, in retrospect. At one point, a girl’s favorite baby blanket was hidden above the ceiling panels of the basement, and she began to sob when we wouldn’t tell her where we had put it. God, little girls are assholes.
We eventually got bored of the basement and secretly ventured upstairs, where I proceeded to spill body spray all over the kitchen counters. I tried to make a design, and since body spray is mostly alcohol, I figured I might as well set it on fire. Caught on tape are ten girls, seemingly hell-bent on burning my house down. My parents only found this video years later, and it’s disconcerting to get an angry phonecall from your dad 15 years after the fact, asking, “What the hell were you thinking?!”
After we had lit up an entire bottle of body spray, we then decided to go outside in the middle of December and play Ding-Dong-Ditch. Here’s where my pussiness finally got the better of me. I was the only kid in this whole neighborhood, and anyone we played this prank on would know IMMEDIATELY who had done it. I hung back, begging the rest of the girls in a whiny voice to come back to the house. I think I promised milkshakes as part of the deal. No dice.
The girls ran up to houses, rang the doorbell, then ran away giggling, while I stood in the street and wrung my hands. Luckily, they tired of this after a while since it was bone-chillingly cold, and we headed back to my house.
Back in the basement, the girls were starting to get unruly. Some decided to play a pirate ship game using the leather recliners, pushing them across the floor while pretending to shoot torpedoes at each other. This resulted in a wall outlet getting cracked, and streaks of blue leather now ran from one white wall to another. I would be berated severely for this the next day. Others settled in a corner to play “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board,” which is a silly game where you call on the powers of the occult to lift a friend. We later played a game of hide-and-seek where I ended up partially stuck in an old fireplace.
Eventually, long after midnight, someone made the suggestion that we try surfing down the staircase. I immediately didn’t like this idea, since after the wall outlets and the leather marks, I knew I was on thin ice. But damn, it still sounded like a cool idea. We gathered up the sleeping bags, and the first girl lined up at the top of the stairs. She stepped into her sleeping bag, then rolled down the steps at full tilt, finally hitting the wall at the bottom with a loud BANG.
Well, shit, I thought. I’ve finally killed someone. I knew this day would come.
But she sat up groggily, and declared the experience to be, “AWESOME!” Soon everyone was pushing each other to be the next one to go down the steps.
Another went up, prepared her bag, then launched herself down the stairs. WHUMP-WHUMP-WHUMP-WHUMP-WHUMP-WHUMP-BANG.
A girl was right behind her, and she decided to slide down on her stomach. WHUMP-WHUMP-WHUMP-WHAT-THE-FUCK-IS-GOING-ON-DOWN-HERE-BANG.
My dad had torn the basement door open halfway through her descent, clad only in a striped robe that was partially open. Mustache aquiver and nostrils flaring, he demanded to know what the hell we thought we were doing. “IT’S 2AM AND YOU ARE SURFING DOWN MY STAIRS?!” We all looked up at him, wide-eyed and pale.
I realized that I might in fact be the one to die this evening.
Somehow, the apologies of ten little girls managed to placate him, and we promised to stop. He stooped down to survey the damage to the steps, then marched back upstairs, a look of fury on his face. We all broke out into nervous titters once he had closed the door behind him. But, to my horror, one of the girls was prepping to go down AGAIN. I flung myself onto the steps to block her way, pleading with her as if my life were truly on the line. “DO NOT MAKE HIM COME DOWN AGAIN!” I begged, red-faced and close to tears.
I was called a coward for the rest of the party, but at least I wasn’t killed by a middle-aged man in a robe. I was also not allowed to have another slumber birthday party ever again.