Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Some People Think it is Fun to Make You Wet Your Pants

Why I Sleep With a Nightlight
Part I

When I was about twelve, my dad used to work nights. Every couple of months, my aunt would come down with my two cousins E (12) and T, (10) to have a slumber party with my mom, my brothers R (10), M (8) and me. I know we must have done a lot of fun things, but everything is overshadowed in my memory by the main event of Hide and Seek in the Dark.

We would play kids against the grownups with only three rules. 1. You couldn't go outside. 2. You couldn't turn on the lights. 3. You couldn't give up. You had to search until you found everyone. My mom would turn off the lights and close all the drapes which left only the small kitchen window and appliance lights to break the darkness. This opened up a ton of places to hide.

Because it was pitch black in some rooms, you could pretty much stand in the middle of the floor without being found by sight. Our game was very hands on and even that didn't guarantee success. The seeker might touch you and not "find" you. Many times a hider started talking, thinking that they had been found, only to startle the seeker into a blind, screaming panic. I wonder what the neighbors thought was going on. We would have company over, wait for it to get dark and turn off all the lights. Then occasional, random screams of women and children would be heard from the otherwise silent home.

I now have an intense fear of sticking my hand in dark places thanks to my aunt who managed to squeeze herself between the water heater and the furnace in the laundry room. Because we had exhausted every thinkable hiding spot unable to find her, I had finally decided to feel all the way around the interior of the house. Much to my horror, it worked a little too well. As I was feeling hand over hand against the outline of the room, I suddenly felt fabric. This being the laundry room, I thought it was clothing. But it felt like it was wrapped around a tube-shaped object. I started to explore it further, trying to decide what it was, when it started laughing maniacally. Terrified, I screamed bloody murder. It turned out it was my aunt's arm. That was the LAST time I stuck my hand anywhere that was large enough for a body part to hide.

Our house was a typical, three bed, two bath home with a living room and a garage remodeled into a family room. You would think that after a while, the game would get old because all the good hiding spots would be found. You would be underestimating the creativity of my family. One of my brothers hid in the dryer. It took forever to find him. After she found him, my mom told me that she always thought it would be a good hiding spot, but she never expected anyone to actually climb in there. My best spot was on top of the refrigerator. It took forever before my aunt finally found me and taught me an important lesson. I glowed in the dark.

I had very long blond hair and was extremely pale. Any light at all would reflect off of my skin and hair. I had never realized this and since I have never been comfortable in the dark, I always hid in the rooms that weren't completely blacked out. All this time, I had been mediocre at hiding. I had great spots, but was too easily found. Because I was above the line of sight, I may have never been found had she not gotten desperate and looked up. From that night forward, I wore a dark hooded sweatshirt that transformed me into a hide and seek ninja, enabling me to finally pay my aunt back for freaking me the hell out with her disembodied laugh and arm.

I had learned that the best places to hide were right out in the open. People still tried to hide in places where they couldn't be seen if the lights were on and expected everyone else to do the same. I used this to my advantage after I learned what was giving me away in the dark. I finally found sweet revenge on my aunt just by sitting in a living room chair. I put my ninja cloak on backwards with the hood up over my face and tucked my hair into the collar of my shirt. Then I pulled the sleeves down over my hands; sat back and waited. When they couldn't find me, my aunt came through the room again and started feeling along the furniture with her hands. She felt my wrist, covered by the sweatshirt, and started feeling her way up my arm. I pulled off the hood and started to stand up. Terrified she screamed bloody murder.

Scaring her was totally unintentional, but immensely satisfying.

Tomorrow I will give you Part II: Rules Are Made to be Broken


  1. What about the time when we walked to the elementary school in the dark to play hide and go seek and "the boys" (or our Mom's) came up with the story about a murder that happened a block away from the school. There was also the night time hide and go seek in the field behind the house. Our Mom's would hide in the tall grass and grab our ankles when we walked by. I am surprised you and I even go anywhere when it is dark...

  2. I laughed so hard at "what the neighbors thought", I had to stop and wipe my eyes. I have a neighbor who would have called the police!!