20 Minute Read
Thank you for stopping in tonight to read B - sides: It's My Party. I just want give you a quick explanation of what I mean by a B - side story.
Back in the day, songs were recorded onto vinyl records and later, onto cassette tapes. They had two sides, an A - side & (you guessed it!) a B - side. Normally, the A - side had the "hit" & the B - side had the weird stuff. I'm into weird stuff. When I listen to a song enough times I start thinking about what happened to this person to make them write this. Sometimes it's obvious, like Ariana Grande had a few relationships not work out, but she was grateful about it so, Thank U, Next. Some songs though, are left up to the imagination, like who really did let the dogs out? Or maybe he really wasn't so vein, and Carly Simon is just a jerk (I doubt it).
I wanted to write stories about just that. The events that lead up to, happen during, and/or happen after the song. The B - side of the story.
Tonights tale is about the song It's My Party by Lesley Gore.
If you haven't heard it;
You can look up the lyrics here.
You can hear the song on youtube here.
My life is over.
When did Judy and Johnny become friends? Does he like her? She’s a total square! She’s only been going to our school for a few months. Up until 15 minutes ago I didn’t even know she was in this class. I’ve sincerely never noticed her and she sits two tables over. She has icky hair and smelly feet. Okay, I’m not certain she has smelly feet, but she looks like a girl who would have smelly feet, and I’m usually right about these things. She’s tall too. Almost as tall as Johnny. That’s really going to mess up their wedding photos, unless she wears flats. And those flats probably smell really, really bad.
When I got to biology today Johnny was sitting with Judy. Johnny always sits next to me during class. Johnny is my steady guy and he has been for the last 6 months. Sure he’s been distant and moody the last couple of weeks, but he’s turning into a young man, that kind of stuff happens! I thought maybe he was just asking her a question, (Is there any homework due today? Are your teeth naturally yellow or is it caused by your breath?) then he would come sit down next to me. That didn’t happen though. He just stayed sitting there - two tables down and away from me. Two tables down, away from me and with Judy!
I’ve been glaring at them for the last 15 minutes. Not one single word of Mrs. Smith’s lecture has reached my ears. There is no other explanation other than they are in love. They fell in love and he forgot to tell me. There is a very small possibility that I’m jumping to conclusions. He could just be sitting with her because he’s a nice guy and making the new girl feel welcomed is something a nice guy would do. They are sitting awfully close to each other. Doesn’t he know how this makes me look? I feel completely made a fool of! All the other girls keep shooting me looks of pity. I put on a fake smile to let them know nothing is wrong, but everything is wrong. This can’t be happening. My sweet 16 party is tomorrow night and I need to have Johnny on my arm. I already have the perfect party dress, the perfect band booked, and the most perfect cake made by my grandmother Rose. Daddy even sprang for the big room at the Country Club. All I need is the perfect date and I have that in Johnny. I need to know what’s going on, and I need to know now. I’m going to write him a note. Something nice and breezy. I rip out a sheet of paper and start writing. I quickly veto nice and breezy. I write:
Why are earth are you not sitting next to me? People are starting to talk.
The girl you are going steady with.
I pass the note to Linda, who passes it to Barbara, who passes it to Danny, who passes it to Johnny.
I watch him read the note and then I watch his neck and ears turn red. I watch as he writes something on the back of my note. Then I watch the note go from Danny, to Barbara, to Linda, who then drops it on my desk. Finally, an explanation or maybe an invitation to their wedding. Either way I have to know. When I open the note, I see the 4 words no girl wants to read:
We need to talk.
Meet me after class.
Instant lump in my throat. Everyone knows what, “We Need To Talk” means. It means he wants to break up. Is he crazy or something! A day before my Sweet 16 party! I need him at that party! Who does Johnny think he is? He was a nobody around here until I started showing interest in him. I’ve always been more in the groove than him. What can I say, people are just naturally drawn to me! Like Marilyn Monroe. Johnny has always been in our class, but no one really noticed him. He was one of the smart kids. You know the type; pale, skinny, and really into books and schoolwork. This past summer Johnny went to work on his uncle’s farm and came back looking like a total hunk. The sun tanned his skin and lightened his hair. All the manual labor he did on the farm turned his scrawny arms into solid muscle. I laid eyes on “New and Improved” Johnny at the corner store the day he got back into town. I hardly recognized him, but I knew once the other girls got a look at him, he would be snatched up. So, I batted my eyes and touched his muscles until he asked me for my phone number. Boys love that kind of stuff. Ever since then, he’s been mine and only mine. Now he wants to talk? The day before my party? I have to fix this. I need to fix this. I can fix this.
When the bell rings i practically hit the ceiling I jump up so fast. I see Johnny whisper something in Judy’s ear and then start walking toward me. I need to control this situation. I need to speak first.
“Hi Johnny. What’s going on? What did you want to talk about?” I asked confidently. He won’t look me in the eye. This is bad.
“I want to talk about us.” He says. I swallow hard. Okay, I can do this. Talking about us means I can remind him how he needs me. How he wouldn’t be sitting at the popular table at lunch without me. How because of me, he gets invited to all the parties, or how he can’t drive Daddy’s Thunderbird anymore if he breaks up with me.
“That’s my favorite subject!” I say with a giggle. He smiles, but his eyes look sad.
“Can we go talk in my car?” He asks.
“Sure we can.” I try to sound hopeful. As we walk through the hall I try and grab his hand. He keeps it balled up in a fist so I just hold that because I don’t want anyone to see us and think something is wrong. I think he feels sorry for me because he lets me hold onto his fist until we reach the door that leads to the parking lot. We don’t even make it all the way to his car when he stops and turns to me.
“I have something I have to tell you!” His voice cracked. “And it’s not going to be easy.” He bites his lip. He’s so gorgeous.
“Well yes, I gathered that much. I don’t think we walked all the way out here just for the fun of it.”
“I don’t want to go steady anymore.” He confesses.
“But what about my party?” I blurt out.
“What about your party?”
“You promised you would be my date! You know how much this means to me!” How could you do this to me? You want me to show up to my own party without a date? How embarrassing! After all I’ve done for you?” I am not handling this as poised as I thought I would. Words just kept coming out of my mouth. Finally I bite my tongue. Johnny takes a deep breath and looks me right in the eyes.
“I don’t want to hurt you and I don’t want to ruin your party, but I’m just not feeling the same way anymore. I don’t think it’s fair to you.”
“You don’t think it’s fair to me? You think breaking up with me a day before my party is fair? I don’t have time to find another date. The band already learned to play Johnny Boy for my first dance!” More words kept falling out.
“I just don’t have the same feelings anymore.”
“Well, what are you feeling?” What does he mean? I never thought boys had feelings.
“I just feel differently. I miss my old life. I miss spending lunch in the library. All we do at lunch is sit with your friends and make fun of people. I like schoolwork and I’m sick of pretending that I don’t. Since we’ve been together my grades have gone down.” Since when doesn’t he like making fun of people? It’s one of my favorite things. “I’m spending all my free time with you which might be fine for some guys, but not me.” I wait a second before responding. He is making a fair point. All of my grades are awful. All of my friend’s grades are awful, except for the football players. Nerds like Judy and Old Johnny usually do their homework for them.
“Is that why you were sitting with Judy today? Do you like her because she’s smart and I’m not? You know everyone thinks you’re into her because you sat with her instead of me, and you know her feet smell, right? I haven’t actually smelled them, but I’m usually right about these things.” In your face Judy.
“Smelly feet? What are you talking about? But yes, I sat with Judy instead of you because she takes really good notes. She was helping me catch up. You shouldn’t care what other people think. She doesn’t like me. We’re just really good friends. You wouldn’t know that though because you don’t take an interest in me or my friends.” He sounds frustrated or maybe even disappointed.
Is Nerd Johnny still alive in there and I’ve never noticed? I feel relieved though. He’s not leaving me for boring Judy. He just misses his books and wants more attention. I can fix that.
“It doesn’t have to be this way. We can compromise. Once a week you can have lunch in the library and we can do our homework together everyday after school. You don’t even have to wear the suit I got you that matches my dress for my party. You can pick your own outfit. Please Johnny. Give me one more chance. I need you.” I pled. His eyes narrow.
“You need me to be your date! You don’t need me. It’s stuff like this that makes me want to break up! You make me feel like I don’t matter. Like I was put on Earth to be your boyfriend and nothing else!” Someone being mad at me is such a new thing to me. I want to cry!
“That’s not true Johnny! The last 6 months have been the most fun I’ve ever had and that was because I was with you. Not just because I had a date to everything.” I say back to him. He can’t accuse me of that. I mean, having a date to everything has been wonderful, but it’s because Johnny is that date. He’s the grooviest boy in school right now.
“I’ve had some really great times too, but like I said don’t feel like the old Johnny anymore.” He says breaking away from our eye contact. Okay, time for the waterworks.
“I’m so sorry.” I say with the biggest frown I can make while forcing a tear to roll down my cheek. “I never meant for you to feel like that. You’re my first boyfriend and I like having one so much that I must have forgotten you also have feelings. I can change! We can do more things you like instead of just what I like. Please just give me one more chance. Please don’t leave me without a date to my own party.” He doesn’t say anything. He looks over at the school then lets out a giant sigh. I’ve got him right where I want him.
“I’ll go with you to your party, but after that we need to have a serious talk.” he said defeatedly. This must be how Mother feels when she wins an argument with Daddy. I did it, I have a date for my party! I go to kiss him and he gives me his cheek. I hope no one saw that. As we walk back inside, I let him know he can have lunch in the library today, but to promise to not talk to Judy until I can explain what happened to my friends.
“Why was Johnny sitting with Judy in biology? Word of the bird is that he’s sweet on her.” Jenny asked practically pouncing me as I walked up to my usual lunch table. Was that sass? She’s my best friend. You get get sass from your best friend.
“Judy asked him for help with the assignment. Johnny is really smart you know. Not everyone thinks school is a drag. He’ll probably be a doctor one day.” I sass her right back.
“Then why are they talking right now?” She points up to the door of the cafeteria. Johnny and Judy are huddled together talking and smiling. Jesus Johnny! What did we just talk about? I’m about to go break them up when I see him leave to go to the library. Judy comes into the cafeteria to have lunch. Alone I bet.
“They are probably just discussing the biology assignment.” I say matter of factly.
“More like chemistry!” She says which gave everyone at the table a big tickle. I’m so mad I could spit! Judy is still making a fool of me. Something must be done. I look down at the table. My eyes go right to Becky’s chocolate shake.
“Watch this.” I get up from the table with shake in hand. I can hear Becky squawking about me taking it off her tray, but she can put a sock in it. As I’m walking past Judy’s table I pretend to trip which makes me toss the whole shake onto Judy. It covers her entire face, drips down her front, and gathers in her lap. Everyone is looking at us and laughing.
“Judy, I’m so sorry! I tripped on accident! Let me help you!” I’m trying so hard not to laugh with everyone! I grab her arm to pull her out of her seat. Everything that gathered in her lap fell onto the floor so as soon as she takes a step she slips in it and falls backwards. She slipped so hard both of her feet went into the air. A-ha! She’s not wearing socks! There’s no way her feet aren’t smelly. Jenny then runs over and tries to help her up too, but she’s on my team. When she has her almost to her feet she drops her, and Judy lands in the puddle. Judy screams and I burst out laughing!
“Leave me alone! You did this on purpose! You’re awful girls!” She carefully gets up, grabs her bag, and tries to walk away. She’s slipping all over the place and the cafeteria is roaring with laughter. For half a second I feel bad for what I did. But just for half a second. She did something that caused me embarrassment so I was just getting her back.
I slept like a baby last night! I don’t know if it was because today is party day or because of how satisfied I feel. I spend the entire day getting ready. Mother had her hair dresser come to the house to fix me up. I feel so special today. My real birthday was a month ago, but Mary, Katherine, and Margaret all have their birthdays around the same time and my party needed to stand out. Today is the perfect time to have it. There isn’t another party for 3 weeks. Mine will be talked about for nearly a month!
Johnny gets to my house 10 minutes late. I was beginning to think he stood me up. Mother had to pat down my armpits I was sweating so much! He looks so handsome tonight. He isn’t wearing the suit I picked out for him, but the one he’s wearing looks fine. I don’t think we’ll clash in pictures. I go to kiss him, but again he gives me his cheek. I see he’s holding a little box. A birthday present! I knew he really cared about me. The box is the size of a ring! Is he giving me his ring? I’ve always wanted to wear a boy’s ring! I’m so happy he decided to wait until right before my party to give it to me. All the girls are going to go wild! I snatch it out of his hand before he can stop me.
“Johnny! You’re the sweetest boy!” I gush.
“Oh, no it’s not…”
“How did you know this would be the perfect time to give me your ring?” I open the box and my heart shattered. It’s not his ring, it’s the cufflinks I gave him to wear with the matching suit. I want to cry, but instead I bottle it up and choke out a laugh.
“Oh, of course it’s the cufflinks! I should have recognized the box!” Why didn’t I recognize the box? That would have saved me a lot of embarrassment.
“I’m returning them. I was going to return the suit, but my mom really likes it on me. She wanted to know if I could wear it to my cousin’s wedding next weekend before giving it back to you.”
“I’m sure that will be fine.” I say still fake smiling. “Come on, we better get going. Everyone is probably already there.”
Daddy is letting us drive his Thunderbird to the Country Club for my big arrival. It’s only a few blocks away so riding with the top down won’t frizz my hair up too bad. We sit in an awkward silence for about a minute until Johnny says something.
“You know I almost broke my promise and didn’t come tonight because of what you did to Judy.” Oh no. I didn’t think he knew about that. He was in the library during lunch.
“How do you know about that?” I ask.
“How don’t I know about it? The whole school won’t shut up about it. How could you do that to her? She was so upset and embarrassed.” He sounds mad.
“It was an accident! I didn’t mean to do it. Why are you taking her side? You weren’t even there to see it!”
“I didn’t have to see it. She told me what happened. She said your “trip” was as phony as you are! She thinks you did that to her because I was sitting with her in biology.”
“Well revenge is a dish best served cold, but I wouldn’t do something like that. What kind of girl do you think I am?” I don’t want him to answer that.
“You don’t want me to answer that.” He said.
“Look, I am not threatened by a girl like Judy. It was an accident and that’s all I have to say about it.” This has to end. We have to look like a loving couple when we pull up to the party.
“I’m not sure I believe you. Let’s just get through tonight.”
At that moment we turn into the Country Club lot. So much for a loving couple. Everyone is waiting outside for us to pull up. They are all clapping and cheering. Even my parents are here. Johnny parks the car under the carport and comes around to open the door. I wrap my arm around his and hold on tight.
Once we are in the party room the band starts playing Johnny Angel. I can tell he doesn’t want to, but I guide him to the dance floor and we start to slow dance. This is right where I belong. In the arms of my guy with everyone watching. I guess everyone includes Judy, because I see her standing at the back of the crowd. What nerve of her to even show up here! I didn’t invite her. Why is she smiling so much? She looks like a crazy person. I look up at Johnny and he’s smiling like a nutty person too, but he’s not looking at me. He’s looking at her, at Judy! Is she here for Johnny? Are they plotting something? I need to let her know that it’s not over between me and Johnny. She can’t have him. Not tonight, not ever.
As soon as the song ends I make my move. I pull Johnny in and dip kiss him. Sure, it’s strange for a girl to dip kiss a boy, but obviously I’m not great at making rash decisions. It’s working though. I take a peek over at Judy and her dumb smile is gone. I try to un-dip Johnny, but I don’t have enough muscle to get him up and he falls. Everyone starts to laugh and I can’t help but laugh myself. As soon as he gets to his feet the band starts playing The Twist and the dance floor is packed!
After about 15 minutes of dancing I notice Johnny isn’t by my side anymore. Where did he go? Maybe he went to get us refreshments. I start for the punch and see Sue and Nancy are leaned up against the table chatting. As soon as I walk up they stopped talking. Were they talking about me?
“Were you talking about me?” I blurt out.
“No!” They both say in unison. Well now I’m certain they were.
“What were you talking about then?” I ask with a sense of urgency. It’s my party! My friends shouldn’t be gossiping about me. It’s so rude. I tap my toe waiting for an answer.
“Well, I guess we were sort of talking about you.” Nancy confesses.
“We were talking about Judy and Johnny.” Sue cuts in.
“What about Judy and Johnny? Do you know where Johnny is?”
“No, nobody knows where he went, but we did see him leave holding Judy’s hand.” Sue says, but she says it quietly like she doesn’t want to hurt my feelings. The coy little smirk on her face tells me otherwise. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Isn’t he supposed to be mine? I can feel that lump in my throat again. There’s no way they left together. They couldn’t possibly be planning a fun surprise for me, could they? It’s best not to get my hopes up. Nancy breaks my train of thought.
“It’s probably nothing to worry about. I heard Judy has smelly feet. I love that dress on you, by the way.” She’s just sucking up.
“Thanks, and you’re probably right.” I say while trying not to roll my eyes. Now it’s Sue’s turn.
“And your party is just wonderful! I’m having so much fun! I think Danny might finally ask me to dance.”
I can’t even say anything to her. I just smile and walk away. I want to be left alone. They can play all the records and dance all night, but until Johnny is dancing with me, I’ve got no reason to smile. Suddenly, I hear a loud gasp, then dead silence. The band is taking a break so when I say silence I mean silence. Everyone is looking towards the door. There are too many people so I can’t see exactly what they are looking at. Next thing I know everyone is looking at me. The crowd starts breaks up and that’s when I see it, the thing everyone was looking at. I can’t believe my eyes. Judy and Johnny just walked though the door, like a queen with her king. Oh, what a birthday surprise, Judy wearing his ring!
The lump in my throat is back again, but now tears are falling down my cheeks. I run into the bathroom and lock the door. How can this be happening to me? I hear a knock and it’s Jenny so I let her in. She give me a big hug and wipes my tears.
“You can’t be crying like this with makeup on, sweetie.” She sounds like my mother.
“It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” Stating it made me feel powerful. It IS my party and I CAN cry if I want to. “How could he do this to me?”
“I know you’re sad, but it’s not ladylike to sulk. Bottle it up, honey” Now she was really sounding like my mother.
“When did he even have time to give her the ring?” I’m so confused about what is happening. Was he really that mad at me that he would do something like this? Obviously, he is because he did do something like this to me.
“They left together after you dropped him on the dance floor. He looked so mad, but it was so funny! I saw him grab Judy’s hand and they split. I’m not sure why they came back. Surely it’s not only to embarrass you. Do you want me to see if they are still here?”
“Yes, please.” I whimper.
She leaves the bathroom and I try and clean up my face. My life really is over. My first boyfriend just paraded through my Sweet 16th Birthday Party with the squarest girl on Earth AND she’s wearing his ring? The ring I was never good enough to receive?
I hear another knock on the door. What now?
“What now?” I yell.
“Honey, it’s your mother. We spent lots of money on this party so get out here, now! He’s just a silly boy!”
Mother’s always know the right thing to say. I can only think of one response to her.
“It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to! You would cry too if it happened to you!”