I spotted Savannah standing next to the Littlest Pet Shop apartment building, her hand stretched out.
The only reason the Littlest Pet Shops were out in the first place was because Caroline had been babysitting a little girl, Jillian, the day before, and hadn’t gotten around to cleaning up the toys.
But why was Savannah staring at the figurines with wide, curious eyes? Had she never seen Littlest Pet Shops before?
I slipped into the LPS setup between the clubhouse and the shopping district. “Hey, Savannah!” I called.
She jumped, startled, and her hand snapped back to her side. “Saige! I was just, uh . . . I mean . . .” she stuttered.
I joined her by the apartment and gazed at all the tiny, large-eyed toys. They were so cute, and I hadn’t seen them, certainly not played with them, for a long time. I mean, I was eleven! Eleven-year-olds don’t play with Littlest Pet Shops.
But . . .
I plucked the pink butterfly, my personal favorite, from her room. “Wanna play?” I asked Savannah.
What are you doing?! my mind screamed. Savannah will laugh at you. Twelve-year-olds are even less likely to play with Littlest Pet Shops.
“With . . . these?” She waved at the toys.
I gave a tiny nod and wished I hadn’t said a word.
Savannah surprised me by exclaiming, “I’d love to!”
She moved her hand along in front of the apartment, trying to figure out who to be. She finally chose an iguana and questioned, “What’s its name?”
“His name is Iggy,” I told her, pressing the two pets together, “and mine is Izzie. They like each other.”
We plopped down in front on the Rabbit Manor and set to working putting Iggy and Izzie in an embarrassing situation together.
Just then, I heard dainty footsteps on the stairs. A moment later, Isabelle walked past, a backpack hanging from her shoulders. She must have just gotten back from dance class.
“Isabelle!” I waved my Littlest Pet Shop at her. “Want to join us?”
Isabelle didn’t say anything, but she came over and stood in front of the Rabbit Manor.
Savannah nodded toward the apartment. “Go pick out someone to be,” she said.
Izzy walked to the apartment, and then back to us, a deer named Faline in one hand and Lucy the mouse in the other. “I hope it’s OK that I have two?” she asked.
” ‘Course.” I nodded.
Isabelle sat down with us and we started to play.
“Izzie!” Savannah made her pet, Iggy, say.
“Yes?” Isabelle said.
“What?” Savannah said.
“You said ‘Izzy.'”
“Oh, that just the butterfly’s name,” Ana explained. “And it’s spelled I-z-z-i-e. Just so, you know, you can pronounce it correctly.”
Either Isabelle got bored with the story or got uncomfortable with the romantic turn our game was taking, because she jumped us and ran over to the carnival.
The itty-bitty lobster she was holding announced in a British accent, “Hullo! My name is Leprechaun Lobster, but please just call me Lep. I own the carnival!”
Savannah and I got up and followed Izzy, each of us carrying one of her pets along with our own.
Isabelle took a monkey named Charlie and made him hop up on a table, yelling, “Waiter! I need an umbrella!”
Savannah grabbed the waiter, a flustered pig named Chester, who was not used to getting orders for umbrellas. “Uh, right away, sir!” he promised.
I flew my butterfly over to the restaurant. “I’m the mail carrier,” Izzie said. “I’ll go get an umbrella.”
Izzie flew over to the apartment building, hoping someone there would be nice enough to let her take their umbrella. She spied a yellow one propped up against the wall in the Bird’s room. She landed on the platform outside their door and called, “Hello?”
Jake Bird appeared in the doorway. “How can I help you, Izzie?”
“I need an umbrella!” she explained. “Do you have one?”
“Er, well, we do . . .” Mr. Bird turned to look at his wife, Polly, in the other room. “The mail carrier Izzie has asked for our umbrella . . .?”
“ABSOLUTELY NOT!” yelled Mrs. Bird. “IF YOU GIVE IT AWAY, I SHALL GET WET WHEN IT RAINS!”
“Sorry, no.” Mr. Bird forcefully closed the door.
Izzie knocked on the door again. “I’ll pay you!” she shouted. She grabbed a little yellow seahorse and presented it to Mr. Bird.
“ABSOLUTELY NOT!” screamed Mrs. Seahorse, rushing up the fourth floor and grabbing the young seahorse.. “THAT’S MY BABY GIRL!”
On the way back to the restaurant, the defeated butterfly caught a glimpse of something blue lying in the sandbox in the park. She swooped down and picked it up, shooting back to the impatient customer who had ordered something that wasn’t even on the menu. She set the blue thing down on the table, saying, “I hope this shovel will do!”
Suddenly a whole flood of Littlest Pet Shops stampeded into Leprechaun Lobster’s carnival.
Pearl the fish and her son guppy road the Dream Boat and Stella the squirrel went on the roller coaster.
Everyone else squished onto the Ferris wheel.
Polly Bird flew unstably (because of her enormous wig) up to the top of the Ferris wheel, shouting at her son, a tiny red bird, “GET DOWN FROM THERE RIGHT NOW, BATMAN!”
The game finally ended with all the pets locked up in the clubhouse, shivering with fear.
They were hiding from an evil beast bent on eating every last one of them (Boo).
I lost it when Savannah’s prissy Tulip Rabbit announced, “There is a foot in my shoe. Someone get it out or so help me!”
I fell on the floor in a fit of laughter.
Isabelle crumpled next to me, giggling. The contagious laughter affected Savannah too, and soon she was lying on the ground with us.
“Rawr!” Tulip Rabbit shrieked. “My hairspray was the wrong brand, and now it’s turned me into a monster!”
At first, I’d though that I was too old to play with toys like Littlest Pet Shops, but it turned out I was wrong. You’re never too old to do something you enjoy . . . like playing totally random games with your best friends!