Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I'm a Wild Party Crasher

Most people don't start crashing parties till high school or college. Middle school at the absolute earliest. Well, I beat all of you. I crashed my first party when I was only 7. Yes, I'm serious.

It all started when my second-grade classmate Vanessa (not her real name) was handing out invitations to her Halloween birthday party. This was during a time when it was normal to invite the entire class to your birthday party. (And by "entire class," I mean all the girls. Our school was very gender-divided in terms of who played with who). I had gone to Vanessa's party the year before, and it seemed like she was handing out invitations to all the girls in the class, but she didn't give one to me. When I was standing with my friend Katie, Vanessa handed Katie an invitation, but not me, which ruled out the possibility that she just hadn't run into me. I assumed I wasn't invited.

As the party got closer, Vanessa went around at recess telling everyone to wear their costumes to the party. She was so excited about her party that she went up to every girl in the class individually to tell them this. If a bunch of girls were standing in a group together, she would still go up to each one of them individually and say, "It's a costume party, so wear your costume!" rather than saying it to the whole group, even though everyone could hear her just fine. This is why it confused me when Vanessa told me to wear my costume to her party. She wasn't making an announcement to a group that I happened to be standing with. She came up to me individually, looked me in the eye, and said, "It's a costume party, so wear your costume!" exactly the way she did with everyone else. I was confused. I didn't understand whether this meant that I was invited or not.

I told my parents what happened, and they said I should let her know that I didn't get an invitation. I was too afraid to bring up the subject on my own to Vanessa, so I waited until the next time she made an announcement. As it got even closer to the party, Vanessa went around at recess telling everyone not to eat dinner because they were having tacos at the party. Once again, Vanessa went up to me individually and said, "Don't eat dinner - we're having tacos!" the same way she did with everyone else. This time I said, "I didn't get an invitation," but Vanessa was out of earshot by the time I said it, and had already moved on to the next group of people with her taco announcement. Vanessa's friend heard me and went over and told Vanessa that I didn't get an invitation, but I didn't hear what Vanessa said.

I told my parents again what happened and that I didn't know whether I was invited or not. I gave them all the information I had, and we tried to piece it together, but it didn't make sense. My parents asked me if there was anyone else who didn't get an invitation, and as far as I knew, it was just me. They thought that I was probably invited, but I did not want to go until I was sure. I was imagining how embarrassing it would be if I got there and found out that I wasn't invited.

Now, I might have just not gone to the party. But the party happened to be the Friday night before our fall fair at school.  My friend Katie and I were going to be hanging around after school while our parents were setting up for the fair, and Katie's parents asked if my dad could drive both Katie and me to Vanessa's party after school. Katie's parents had assumed that everyone was invited and that my dad would be taking me anyway. When my parents told me what the plan was, I said that I still didn't know whether I was invited to the party, and I didn't want to go if I wasn't invited. So my mom called Vanessa's mom to ask, and she confirmed that I was invited. I felt relieved. It must have just been a mistake that I didn't get an invitation.

I went to the party and had a good time. No one acted weird towards me. The following week at school, no one said anything to me about the party. But years later, when our class became more cliquey, Vanessa's friends started asking me, "Why did you go to Vanessa's party? You weren't invited!" referring to the second grade party.  I always just said, "Because I wanted to," or "Because I felt like it," but I knew that they were right - I must have never been invited to that party, regardless of what Vanessa's mom said on the phone. Vanessa never confronted me about it directly, but she must have let her friends know that I wasn't supposed to be invited, because this became a thing that her friends harassed me about all the time.

The thing is, when my mom called Vanessa's mom and told me that I was invited, I took that at face value. I was only seven at the time, and I didn't understand that Vanessa's mom might have said I was invited when I really wasn't. It's possible that I was never invited, but Vanessa's mom felt obligated to let me go since my mom called. It's also possible, and I think more likely, that Vanessa's parents expected her to invite the whole class, and Vanessa decided on her own not to give me my invitation. In any case, I never really wanted to crash her party. I felt bad once I realized that I was never invited, but I was too embarrassed to explain to Vanessa what really happened, so I never told anyone the real reason that I went to the party.

But I did crash a party. And in terms of what age people normally start crashing parties, I think I've got everyone beat!

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