Staying Up Late

lombardo.jpgOur folks were out for a very late evening - it was a New Year�s Eve party. Vickie and I were to stay at home and baby-sit for our younger sibs. But this night would be different from all those other baby-sitting nights before. We could stay up as late as we wanted or until the folks got home.

We were heady with the excitement of complete freedom. We were in charge and, once the younger distractions were safe abed, could do whatever we pleased. Drunk with this power, yet inherently wimpy compared to many kids of our generation, we set about to make it an evening to remember.

Our list of pleasures was relatively short - see the ball drop for the first time on our lives, after that watch any television show we wanted (including those late-night, grown-up movies on channel 9), eat whatever snacks and drink the folks had left for us in grand style, and STAY UP LATE.

The distractions were put to bed without incident. All the TV shows on before midnight were just annoyances to us - something to get through before we entered the mystical adult world of post-midnight. Bored with variety shows and itchy to start the real fun, we decided to create a whole (miniature) fantasy world in the living room. All of the sofa and chair cushions came off and became islands scattered across the floor. We hopped from one to the next, pretending to be soldiers, or pirates, or explorers, or whatever. The chips and cookies left by the folks became provisions that were stashed island to island so that, once one of us made the daredevil leap of 2 feet from one to the next, an appropriate reward would await us. As usual, we assumed fantasy names. I was Jim. I don�t remember Vickie�s so I�ll assign her Elizabeth.

Jim and Elizabeth proceeded to fight off pirates, Indians, Nazis, and a host of other evil doers, stopping after each repulsed assault to tank up on soda, cookies, chips, and other evil-doer fighting necessities. Wave after wave was repulsed until we sat, sated and full, and became tired of the game. It was only 11 p.m.

There was an entire hour to go before we crossed the threshold to the other side of the day. The food was gone. The evil-doers were repulsed. Jim faded to Robert and Elizabeth to Vickie. Our lids were droopy. We were an hour and a half past our normal bedtime. Something needed to be done to keep us going.

We latched onto the snack problem. If the potato chip bag was empty and the Oreos were just a few crumbs in the bag, there was only one solution - we�d have to make our own snack. Cookies were out of the question. The only time cookies were made from scratch in our house was at Christmas - by our mother. This being a week after the holiday, all the Christmas cookies were gone. Aha! we decided, if we couldn�t make cookies we surely could make a cake. Vic and I had made cake-mix cakes before. It was easy. Dump the mix into a mixer, add an egg and some milk, beat it up and bake. We�d have chocolate cake before midnight. Off to the kitchen we strode. But fate was not on our side. There was no cake mix. There was flour, vanilla, confectioner�s sugar, and milk, but no cake mix.

Then I had a brilliant idea. If were couldn�t have cake, we could at least have icing! Vickie was game so we dove in.

Simple butter cream icing is easy. Dump a box of confectioner�s sugar into a mixer, add a stick of butter, a few drops of milk and some vanilla and beat like crazy. We�d done it with our Mom - we�d do it now alone.

In went the sugar and the butter. Vic turned on the mixer and all hell broke loose. Confectioner�s sugar billowed into the air like a mushroom cloud. White powder flew across the counter, past the sink, and onto the cabinets. In the two seconds it took for us to recover our senses and turn off the mixer the kitchen turned white in a four foot radius. We looked like midget mimes.

But we were undaunted. Fifteen minutes later, having vacuumed and wiped most of the fallout away, we surveyed our situation. There was still a stick of butter in the mixer and maybe 2/3 of the sugar. That should work we figured.

This time the mixer when on slowly. The butter and sugar began to combine. We added a few drops of milk. It began to resemble icing - a bit yellow, but icing nonetheless. A teaspoon on vanilla went in. After another minute or so of beating, our expert fingers dipped in for the crucial taste test. Yes, we agreed, it tasted like icing but the color and consistency were a bit off. Since there was no more confectioners� sugar, we decided to add some milk. After all, milk is white and (to our tortured logic) would smooth out the mixture.

In went a few tablespoons of milk - not measured, just plopped in from the milk bottle. The icing immediately turned to pudding. A spoon dipped in came out running with a viscous, yellow-white, runny-nose substance. We tasted. PERFECT!

Settling back into the living room at 11:45 with the bowl and two spoons, we turned on the TV and prepared for our adult experience. Spoonful after spoonful of icing disappeared into our mouths. Inside of 10 minutes we had eaten the equivalent of a two layer cake�s worth of icing.

Midnight came. The ball dropped. We hopped from cushion to cushion in celebration, sugar coursing through our veins like cocaine. Vic made noisemaker noises. I threw imaginary confetti. We locked arms and sang Auld Lang Syne with Guy Lombardo and the gang. Then butter cream globs in our stomachs rose in revolt.

Through sour belches, stomach cramps, and creeping nausea we passed into the other side of midnight. Our folks didn�t get home until almost 2 a.m. but we were awake. Fearing that if we laid down the noxious debris in our stomach would run out, we returned the cushions to the sofa and just sat. The late night movies droned by, overshadowed by the effort to keep from barfing. Though a bit surprised that they didn�t find us asleep on the couch, our parents asked how things had gone.

Fine, we said. The little ones were no trouble and we had a great time.

And we did. It was one of the best New Year�s I�ve ever had. I stayed up past midnight and had my own version of a hangover. I might have been ten years old, but I was a grown-up.


This story is a sterling example of why I always looked up to you. How many little sisters had a big brother that could eat that much icing and not vomit?

I wish that I still had the metabolism of those days. I could burn off just about anything I ate. Speaking of burning off, I think I should write something about Vic's famous broiler lighting episode.

I want the story of how you got the dent in your head.

What dent dent dent dent dent dent den de de

Should you be asking which dent?

Yes, I remember it well. The true beginning of my sugar addiction. Did we bounce off the walls or what?? Was this the occasion we opened a bottle of ginger ale after running around the living room with it in tow, pretending we were christening a ship? You opened the bottle with great ceremony and what a geyser! It hit the ceiling and ginger ale rained down on our cherubic heads. That stain is probable encased under several layers of ceiling paint, but I'm sure it stands in testament of a wild and crazy night. What party animals! The wonderful thing about staying up late was for us it was the ultimate treat and we went for the gusto.
To this day a good batch of icing and a bottle of ginger ale make me all misty-eyed and bloated if I did indeed imbibe. Those were the days, Jim.


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This page contains a single entry by published on February 25, 2004 10:34 AM.

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