Monday, December 21, 2009

All Tied Up and No Place to Go

December 20, 2009

In honor of my baby brother Scott's birthday, I thought I'd share a favorite family story that involves him.

My own personal favorite, and the one I tell to my classes every year (much to his chagrin), happened several years ago, when Scott was a tiny tot of about four. We lived, at that time, out in the country in big house on a couple of acres. During the summers, Mom would take the baby to daycare, but the other four of us were pretty much left to our own devices while she went to work. (Don't judge; it was a different time.) We four kids spent our days finding ways to amuse ourselves--playing marathon games of Monopoly, painting art masterpieces, running obstacle races across the yard, and playing hide and seek.

Hide and seek took hours; there were a million places to hide both inside the house and out. In order to give us all ample time to find the perfect hiding spot, we'd count S-L-O-W-L-Y to one hundred before the seeker was allowed to commence. Scott, the youngest of us at home, desperately wanted to play our favorite game with us. Unfortunately, due to his age, his counting ability was somewhat suspect, usually sounding something like, "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 17, 65, 83, 100. Ready or not, here I come!" Most of the time we were still trying to figure out where we wanted to go when Scott ran out of numbers that he knew, so he was no fun to play with. We all told him he couldn't play with us anymore.

Tears and tantrums ensued. He so much wanted to be one of the big kids, but we didn't want our game spoiled. However, Gary didn't want to get in trouble for not including Scott, either. Ultimately, he came up with what he thought was a brilliant plan. He explained to Scott that all we needed to do was to come up with a way to approximate the time it would take to count to 100 without him actually knowing the numbers. According to his best guesses, if Scott let us tie up his hands and legs (and blindfold him, for good measure), and if he let us push him up into the crawl space between the first and second stories of the house, then by the time he got himself unbound and down from the crawl space, it would be about the same amount of time it took any one of the rest of us to count to 100. (How Gary came up with this brilliant plan on the spot is beyond me; you've got to know Gary to know how he could make this seem like a perfectly rational solution.)

Scott eagerly accepted the terms, and Lisa and I shrugged in agreement. Hide and seek would resume. We grabbed some rope and a scarf, and Scott pliantly submitted to the plan. Somehow Gary was able to hoist him up into the crawl space through the access point in Gary's closet. Satisfied that he was secured, we told him that on the count of three, we'd run, and he could start trying to untie himself. ONE, TWO, THREE!! We were off, and Scott was on his own. We sought out the best hiding places, and then sat and waited. And waited. And waited. And then got bored, tired of waiting. One by one, we wandered back into the house, game forgotten, ready to move on to the next diversion.

About three hours later, Mom came back home from work to find us, Gary, Lisa, and me, sitting in the living room watching "The Brady Bunch". She did a quick headcount (you've got to do that now and then, when you've got five kids), and realized she was one shy of a full set. "Where's Scott, guys?" she asked. We exchanged furtive glances, wide-eyed and more than a little scared to let Mom in on our afternoon's game plan. "We don't know, Mom. He must be playing in his room. We'll go find him for you!" We had forgotten all about him. We snuck back into Gary's room and peeked in the crawl space, where Scott was curled up in a ball, still bound, fast asleep. Gary woke him up, untied him, and threatened him never, ever, to tell Mom that we had tied him up. (Gary could be very convincing when he wanted to ensure things went his way.)

"I promise I won't tell!" he said rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and gingerly caressing the marks left on his wrists by the ropes. "But can we play again tomorrow?"

For the record, we never did. Not with restraints, anyway.


  1. LOL. That is a great memory. What a crazy plan...and I love that you all just left him there and watched the Brady Bunch.

    Merry Christmas!