My Mom was voted coolest mom in Middle School. This was an independent survey. My classmates (who mostly tolerated me) loved my mother. She was at all the school functions and sports games and she volunteered more than her fair share. Two specific events, however, stand out to separate my mom’s contribution to our class identity than any other.
The party. Spinning records and bottles.
Our class wanted a sixth grade party and my family had just moved into a big new house in a central neighborhood to many of our classmates. My mom, knowing that our cool factor needed an uptick, volunteered our garage and basement!
This was a big deal. We even got an eighth grader, Brian Zaborowski to D.J. with his sweet stereo (he had to attend anyway because his brother Brad was in our class),
I distinctly remember a couch in the garage and sheets covering piles of my grandfather’s stuff we inherited. The dancing itself was hot and awkward – much like most of us were all the time – we were 11 and 12 years old after all. “Everything I do, I do it for you” was definitely featured as a slow song, while “Unbelievable” by EMF was a crowd pleaser.
Then came “spin the bottle.” In. The. Basement. (It was a finished basement mind you.)
We knew generally what this game was, but I do not think any of us had played it before. All 16 of us at the party had pretty much been together since we were in preschool as our parents attended the same church. So, the idea of kissing any of them was odd – that may also have been because of other reasons I had yet to admit.
My sister, Kristin (8) and Alaina (10), found many reasons to sneak down the stairs and rat us out, but my mother shooed them away for interrupting our party. Besides, they couldn’t see what happened once the bottle stopped and two of us were sequestered into the laundry room with a volunteer referee.
What? You didn’t play spin the bottle with a referee? We were hard core, every spin resulted in alone time. We needed an impartial judge to verify that the peck did indeed happen. There was more mystery associated with the three turns before my own than in any experience in my young life. What did they do in there? Are they happy about the person they got? Did they actually do it? What as it like?
When I spun the bottle around and realized every girl crossing their fingers – not to be the chosen one – I began to worry about how this would turn out.
Renee Athey was the lucky winner. She chose her bestie, Courtney, as the judge. This was my house, I was going to make the most of this and come out a champion. After closing the laundry room door, Courtney started trying to lay down some ground rules. I just went for it. I planted the weakest little kiss onto the side of Renee’s face as she turned away – nearly her ear….okay, mostly her ear.
“MY EAR, you kissed my EAR!”
Exit stage right. The memory of that party ends there. I do know my cool quotient went down while my mother continued to be a rising star.
Leave these kids alone. You better get off our grills!
One of the strangest parts of growing up at St. Philip the Apostle was our school dances. Again, I reiterate that these took place with the same 16-20 people you have spent your whole life.
My mother had volunteered to be a chaperone at our eighth grade dance. Mostly, this entailed gossiping with the other mom who was there, Mrs. Craig.
As we waited outside the school, hanging out on the steps, some neighborhood kids came by and words were exchanged related to their not being invited to the dance. The dance was not that cool we told them. “It is in our cafeteria. In the basement.” They still wanted inside. They promised to bring back their cousins to “mess us up.” We promptly went inside to get the party started.
Within a few minutes a couple older kids showed up and began to yell at us through the window. I am not even sure if my mom knew what had happened to instigate the episode, but she quickly switched gears from gossiping near the punch bowl to full throttle momma duck.
Her face and demeanor were strong and loud and angry. These were very out of character types of attributes.
Her energy was rewarded with insults and yelling from the teens – who had begun to congregate outside – including some adults. At one point, one of the neighborhood kids, a young woman, yelled, “Get off my grill lady!” I had never heard this before. In my life experience since, I have learned that “grill” is slang for “personal business” or “smile/gold teeth.” In this context, I assume she meant “personal business.”
My mother, not missing a beat replies, “You better get off OUR grills!”
With that, the small mob relented and left us alone to hold hands in the corner, dance with enough room for the holy spirit in between us, fake rap to Snow’s “Informer,” and slow dance dramatically to “I will Always Love You” (yes, it was a new song that year).
For this and countless other reasons, my classmates voted Nancy White, the Coolest Mom of Middle School. My initial jealousy of her popularity has dissipated over the years. Mostly because I knew all along that they were right. I love you mom.
(don’t miss the music video for Snow’s “Informer” below)