As I prepare for Chloe’s birthday celebration with seven other young teenagers arriving later this afternoon, I begin to make the rounds throughout the upstairs bedrooms. I enter Charlie’s room.
Cassie: I thought I asked you to pick up your room. This is a disaster. What are you doing?
Charlie: Setting up spy traps.
Charlie: No stranger girls allowed in my room. I don’t even want them taking a peek at my personal space. This alarm here will warn me if someone’s touched my door even in the slightest way.
Cassie: Yea? I’m sure the cloud of rat smell will keep the girls at bay.
Charlie: Huh. That could work. Let’s hope so.
Cassie: So the plan is we’re keeping your door shut?
Charlie: Yes. It’s a good plan.
Cassie: I still want you to clean up your room.
Charlie: Why? It’s not necessary…if the door is closed.
Cassie: Do it anyway.
Charlie: You make no sense. No logic….
(There’s giggling from the fifteen-year-old’s bedroom. Max sleeps with his bedroom door partially open. I know not for how much longer this will be the case. Is it so he can keep track of the family goings on while he dozes in and out of consciousness on a weekend day? It’s way too early in the late morning for him to rise, but because, I’m guessing, he’s still basking in the glow of his great showing during his lacrosse game last night, perhaps he’s more energetic than usual this Saturday mid-morning.)
Cassie: What are YOU laughing about?
Max: He has a point about the closed door. He has a point. (Pause) When are all the girls arriving at our small house?
Charlie: Yes. I need to know the exact timing…to set my alarms.
Cassie: Pffft. First, we’re meeting here at three o’clock, then we’ll head out to the fancy makeup-nail store, then we’re going to the nail salon, so we’ll probably be back here in the house for pizza and cake then movie-watching by six-ish. The guests leave by nine o’clock.
Max: Oh. My. God. That’s a long time.
Charlie: That sounds really complicated. Will I have to set my alarms twice? First, at three o’clock and then again at six? Or do I just leave the alarms on from three all the way until nine?
Max: Just stay in your room for the three o’clock arrival. Stay out of sight. You don’t have to hide again until they’re back at six.
Charlie: Yea, that works. (Pause) What’s the movie?
Cassie: Probably “Twilight” something or other.
Cassie: You guys. It would be nice if you came downstairs to at least say hello once during the extravaganza.
Max: Are you kidding?
Charlie: Yea. Are you kidding?
Max: I’m going out for the duration of this…uh…extravaganza.
Cassie: Really? You won’t be here for pizza and the like?
Charlie: Can I go with you?
Charlie: (sighing) Just feed me my slice of pizza and cake through the door, then. I’ll open the door a crack so you can slip the food in. ‘Kay?
Cassie: Pffft. Max, who are going out with? Charlie, if you want to eat, you’ll just have to come down and join in the festivities.
Charlie: Oh. My. God. That’s too many girls in one space. I’ll be scarred for life.
Max: True dat.
Cassie: You didn’t answer my question, Max. Who are you going out with?
Max: Dunno yet. Once I explain the situation though, someone’ll come to my rescue. Probably someone from the team.
(That would be the lacrosse team, of course.)
Cassie: Uh huh. Well, all I have to say is that your sister is always super nice to you guys when it’s your birthday so I think you should suck it up and get with the program today.
Charlie: What’s that actually mean, “Suck it Up?”
Max: (cocking an eyebrow) It means—
Cassie: Anyway, it’s your sister’s birthday and I want some “in the spirit” attitude from the two of you’ds….pronto!
Max: We’ll be nice to her TOMORROW for the “family party,” the actual date of her birthday.
Charlie: Yea. I can only do one day of nice.
(I leave the hallway and head down the stairs. On my way down, I hear Charlie say to Max, who, when I left, was still underneath all his bed clothes, pretending to have gone back to sleep, “Dude, did you get her a present?” Charlie asks. “No,” comes the reply from the bed clothes. “You’re screwed,” says Charlie. “I, at least, got her a present. Nail polish. Perfect girl gift. She’ll love it.” Moaning sounds from the bed clothes.)