After rave reviews from other neighborhood fifth graders, I couldn’t wait to try Timmy’s Sleepover. His house is reservation only, so my mom called two weeks ahead to secure a coveted Friday night spot. I arrived after school with high expectations.
In a review titled “The Best Night EVER!!!!”, Jeffrey reported that Timmy ordered Dominoes and that it was the best meal of his entire life. I prepared accordingly, skipping both breakfast and lunch so I could gorge on delicious pizza. Imagine my surprise when, after Timmy and I finished our Nerf war in the backyard, we learned Timmy’s mom was baking tuna casserole. Naturally, I insisted there must be some mistake. Timmy’s mom laughed like I’d made a joke, then served the casserole. Very disappointing service. (For those wanting good tuna casserole, I recommend Peter’s house on a Tuesday. Timmy’s mom’s casserole is not even top five.)
After dinner, I was pleased to see Timmy’s basement has a sixty inch screen, two different console options, and an excellent selection of recently released games. Then, a mere forty minutes into a particularly delightful campaign of ZombieDeath7, Timmy’s mom stomped downstairs and unplugged everything. We didn’t even save our progress. Apparently, Timmy’s daily “thirty minutes of electronics” policy also applies to non-school nights.
Now, I’ve run into similar policies at other houses, but never have I heard of a policy that extends into the weekend. I was astounded. After voicing my extreme disappointment to Timmy, he agreed to go speak with his mom, because maybe a sleepover counted as a special occasion. To Timmy’s credit, he was upstairs a long time. I heard stomping on the floor and a crash that sounded like an overturned chair. So, he really tried. Meanwhile I stared into the blank television, sincerely questioning Jeffrey’s judgement.
Then Timmy’s dad announced “Family Game Night” was starting. This is an archaic tradition in which Timmy and his parents gather at a coffee table to trade cards with pictures of sheep, wood, ore, wheat, and brick. When Timmy’s dad failed to collect wood four turns in a row, despite building settlements on fives and nines, he declared that Timmy’s mom rigged the dice and kicked over the table. Then there was a fifteen minute shouting match between Timmy’s mom and Timmy’s dad, in which Timmy looked at the floor, and I looked at Timmy.
A 9:30 bedtime is normal in this neighborhood, even on non-school nights, but I was surprised by the strict “Lights-Out” enforcement at 9:45. I had barely changed into my PJs and crawled onto the floor futon when Timmy’s mom came to the door and flicked off the switch. I heard her in the hallway, arguing with Timmy’s dad about his behavior during the game. Apparently, Timmy’s dad struggles with a clinically-diagnosed anger disorder, which also hurts his performance in his job as a corporate lawyer.
[EDIT- Timmy’s parents insisted I remove this last sentence, calling it slander, but in the hall I also heard them talking about that “weird little grumpy kid” who was staying over, and “why was Timmy even friends with him?”, so I have little sympathy for arguments citing slander.]
The upside of Timmy’s parents dealing with their obvious marital struggles was that we had no “post-lights out check-in”. I hid my Nintendo Switch in my overnight bag and I’m pleased to report that Timmy and I played an enjoyable and uninterrupted five hours of Super Smash Bros Ultimate before sleeping. If you do choose to attend Timmy’s Sleepover, make sure to come prepared.
Upon stumbling downstairs at 9:30, Timmy and I found that Timmy’s parents were not even awake. Timmy looked in the cabinet and the only cereal was Raison Bran, which I politely refused. Timmy’s mom appeared a half-hour later, puffy eyed and pretty scary, then offered us Raison Bran or cold tuna casserole. Clearing my throat, I requested pancakes and bacon, but she looked at me like she hadn’t heard, then again offered Raison Bran or cold tuna casserole. That was the final straw. I put my foot down and demanded pancakes and bacon. She phoned my mom and I was picked up ten minutes later.
Maybe the likes of Jeffrey will stand for this sub-par Friday Night experience, but, especially with so many better options available in this neighborhood, I certainly will not.
Tom grew up outside Washington DC and has a degree in philosophy from The University of St Andrews in Scotland. He now lives in LA and is currently working on his third collection of short stories, among other exciting writing projects that he can’t wait to share (one is a full-length musical, which you can listen to here).
When he’s not writing new stories, he loves hiking, traveling, guitar-playing, acting, arguing, and desperately attempting to make anyone around him crack a smile. Someday he might succeed (doubtful).