by Julia Buckley
We just took our yearly spring break to a lovely cottage in Fennville, Michigan. The place was big and roomy, and our sons requested that we indulge in an old vacation tradition of playing Hide and Seek (always fun when visiting a new house). Hide and Seek is a kid's game, but playing it as an adult, I found that nothing has changed in forty years.
First, it is still terrifying to hide in the dark. The boys insisted that we turn out almost all the lights in the house, which in itself is sort of scary, but then I was forced to hide again and again--in a closet, in a shower stall, behind a door--and it tapped into some basic Freudian fears. I did not like being in a close, dark space, and I was relieved to be found.
Second, there are some basic realities of Hide and Seek that are true at age four or forty: the minute you hide and hear someone counting in the distance, you immediately begin to itch in about twenty places, and you immediately have to go to the bathroom. Happens EVERY time.
Third, there is a bizarre self-defeating psychology in this game. The goal is supposedly to keep silent and avoid detection, yet the moment the hunt began I got an overwhelming case of the giggles, which led to some loud snorting attempts to suppress the giggles, and a subsequent burp (we were playing after dinner).
Fourth, there are a finite number of places to hide in a house, and it is actually to one's advantage to be among the first found, because the last person found has to kill a lot of time in an uncomfortable place (this was especially true in the closet).
Fifth, seeking is just as frightening as hiding, especially if you don't find people for a while and it starts to feel like a horror movie in which everyone has mysteriously disappeared. And when they do appear in unexpected places (my son Graham's face looming out from under an entryway bench, for example), it can be terrifying.
All in all, I recommend the game as a form of nostalgia and as an interesting self-test in psychology--but maybe playing with the lights on would be a bit more appropriate for those without a child's hardy constitution. :)