If you've ever been an 8 year old girl, you know this is true: you are only as cool as your sleeping bag.
My 8 year old daughter is at her first sleepover tonight. She's never spent the night away from home. I was just like her 36 years ago. The first sleepover didn't warrant a bag. Most of us made a pallet out of quilts because, honestly, our moms didn't see investing in a sleeping bag if we weren't going to use it for several years. But after the first successful sleepover, I got my sleeping bag.
It was mostly yellow and had big red apples and hearts on it. Inside the apples, it said "You're the apple of my eye." I was 9. It was cute.I don't remember picking it out. It probably came from the Sears catalog (for you younguns, that's sort of like an online store printed out on paper). It's how we ordered stuff before the Internet. It might have come from the Shur-Value store in Little Rock. It used to be that when we went grocery shopping, we were given trading stamps as a thank you for our purchase. Those stamps were licked and stuck in books that we collected then traded in for merchandise.
The sleeping bag was fine. I think I was in 7th grade before someone made fun of it. As I unrolled it, I heard a friend snicker, "You're the apple of my eye." It became apparent that this bag was not meant for a 12 year old.
I don't know how I presented the topic to my mother. I mean, the bag was good enough. There was nothing wrong with it. But someone had made fun of it. My dad would have told me to slug the person who made fun of it. My mom, on the other hand, must be the one I told because I ended up with a new bag. It was a Hershey's sleeping bag that looks like a label, but not the brown label we're all familiar with today. It's so old that I couldn't even find a picture of it online.
That bag got me thru my sleepover years, then was used by my niece. I thought I saw it at my mom's house recently and asked her about it. She had forgotten about it.
"How can you forget the Redemption Bag?" I asked.
"Yes. Redemption! It redeemed my social status in junior high."
"You had a social status in junior high?"
Nothing like a kick in the confidence seat 30 years after the fact.
I told her the story about how I had been made fun of at a party because of my old sleeping bag.
"I'm surprised you didn't knock her out," my mom said, knowing that I was apt to take my dad's advice had he given it. But it was puberty and my hormones were making me try to be all girly and stuff so there was no bloodshed. I do, however, recall wondering if the fun-poking would warrant me dropping the girl during our levitation game or using my Ouija board to predict her certain doom. Because all us Christian girls became pagans during sleepovers. But that's another story.
My mom said, "That's the silliest thing ever. I can't believe someone made fun of you for your sleeping bag and that I bought you a new one because of it." Whew. Thank goodness I had a kinder, gentler mom 30 years ago.
"Hey," I snapped. "It's a good thing you did because someone else was making fun of that sleeping bag not too long ago."
"Who?" she demanded.
"Donna." I answered. Donna has been my pal since 10th grade. We've known each other since fifth, but it wasn't until 10th grade that we tagged up as best buddies. Not too long ago she laughed and said, "Who was it that had that 'You're the apple of my eye' sleeping bag?"
That was me. We laughed about it. I don't even think she was at the party when the initial remark was made. Thus proving that a girl's sleeping bag reputation precedes her and sticks with her for life.
So Syd got her first sleepover invitation this week. My first sleep over was for my friend Lori's birthday. Syd's was for Lori's daughter. "We'll need to go buy you a sleeping bag," I said.
"You can use mine," Jim said. He thought he was being helpful. I must have had *that* look on my face.
"It's in the hall closet," he continued.
"I know where it is! I'm not sending my kid to her first sleepover in an Army green camping bag." I'm pretty sure I was indignant. He obviously didn't know girl code. So I told them the story about the apple sleeping bag and how I had redeemed myself in the eyes of teen girls with the Hershey bag.
"I had no idea that Hershey trumped Army green," Jim said thoughtfully.
"Duh. It's CHOC-O-LATE. Of COURSE it trumps slick Army green. I mean, I want your sleeping bag if I'm lying in mud in a tent but I want mine if I'm asleep on another girl's floor."
"I've never seen another kind of sleeping bag," he said. But that's understandable because he's never been a little girl.
"Do you still have that Hershey bag, Mama?" Sydney asked me a day or so later. I called my mom to ask and sure enough, it was at her house. "Can I use it for Abby's party?" she asked.
Well, of course.
We got it from my mom, washed it and fluffed it up. It's seriously 30 years old. Other than a little fading it was fine. She was happy to roll it up and carry it with her tonight. We'll see how it went over tomorrow.
"You know Syd took my old sleeping bag tonight, right?" I asked Jim.
"The apple one?" he asked innocently.
"Well, no! The Redemption Bag. She took the Redemption Bag."
"Redemption bag? The Hershey bag? You're calling it the Redemption Bag?"
"Yes I am. Because it redeemed my social status in junior high."
"You had a social status in junior high?" Somehow I'm starting to think I didn't. And unfortunately now I know it was no fault of my choice of sleeping bag.