A Father's Journal / The inside skinny on hiding out
I have this fear that I will die because of my own stupidity. I have good reason to believe it. My wife often points out the time I fell off a ladder because I was dislodging a hornets' nest with a stick.
I often read of people who die when they go into a sewer without ventilation and are overcome by fumes and die, and then other pople go after them and the rescuers die. Or a criminal who tries to sneak into a house through the chimney gets stuck and dies.
It almost happened to me last week. I was at my oldest daughter's hockey practice when my younger asked, "Do you want to play hide and seek?" I really didn't. It was in the evening. Work was long and hard that day. Eventually, she wore me down. "Okay, one game," I reluctantly agreed. "Great," Julia said. "You have to stay in this area," she said, pointing to an open area. "You can't sneak out to your car and take a nap." Damn! She knows me well.
Julia hid first. As I was wandering about looking for her, I was looking for my own place to hide. Too bad I couldn't take a nap in the car. I evaluated a few places, but my eye kept coming back to a small space behind the soda machine. I would have to move some tables, but a thin man could squeeze in there. The problem was for the last 20 years I have not been not a thin man. I used to be thin, but high school was a long time ago. I forgot that part as I made my plans
I found Julia, and now it was my turn to hide. I asked Julia for a little more time to hide. She looked at me suspiciously, as if I had found another door out and would need the time to get to the car to nap. I assured her I would remain in the designated area, but would need extra time. She finally agreed. And started counting.
First, I removed the folding tables stacked vertically from the side of the machine. Next, I placed them within reach, so I could pull them back once I was in place to seal the cavity. I squished and squirmed my way back behind the machine. They should really dust the tops of those machines more. I was coated with a sticky dust by the time I got into position and pulled the tables back. I was now wedged completely. I could feel in my ribcage the vibrations of the machine's compressor that keeps the drinks cool. I couldn't sit down, I couldn't stand up; I was suspended in between. However, the most important thing is I was unseen from the front.
Julia was taking an excessively long time counting. "Are you ready?" She screams out after she finished counting. A beginner would have fallen for it, revealing my location with a reply. However, I was not a beginner. I was a very large, tired man squeezed into a very small space, covered with dust who was desperate to win hide and seek against his child. I was going to win.
My first hint at trouble was after Julia went by the first time. She would pop around corners yelling, "Aha!" Therefore, I had a good idea where she was. A young hockey-playing boy tried to buy a soda. The soda would not drop, so this youthful hooligan thought it was best if he started hip-checking the machine. Still no soda. Next, he tried rocking the machine. Each rock would crush my ribcage a little bit more. My niece Rachel loves the show "A Thousand Ways to Die." It appeared as if my predicament was No. 234. I thought about pushing the machine back. However, that might kill the little perp.
Just then my phone rang. It was my friend John who likes to argue politics. Before I was able to tell him my situation, He was off on some tirade about the Congressional Budget Office. I took a few seconds to respond to John's ridiculous claims. Apparently, the phone call and a voice behind the soda machine arguing politics was enough to get the juvenile delinquent from continuing his assault on the machine that was crushing me. He must have felt busted for damaging the machine, because he left very quickly.
I hung up the call and screamed out for Julia. Once she found me, I made her admit that I had won, and then made her promise never to hide in such a stupid place, and then had her remove the tables and help me out.
By this time, hockey practice was over. But on the way out, I spotted another great hiding spot.
Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His "Father's Journal" appears every other Wednesday in the Fairfield Citizen. He can he reached at email@example.com.