Monday, April 16, 2012

The Terror of Hiding

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.  :)


Sheila Connolly said...

We used to play hide and seek at day camp when I was young (it was a kind of unstructured program, held all over a former farm, so plenty of room to ramble). I must have had a devious mind at the age of eight, because I kept playing tricks: one was hiding on top of a cabinet (no seeker ever looked up), and another was hiding in plain sight--standing around with other kids, and when asked if I was in the game, I mumbled something that was not quite a lie but not the truth. Goo training for writing.

Julia Buckley said...

Sheila, you would be great fun in a game today--just think how much MORE devious you could be now. :)

Diane said...

Playing with a mystery writer wouldn't be fair (ask your kids) to the other players. You have imaginations for writing mysteries. Devious comes to mind:)

Actually, I don't remember every playing hide and seek. Though if you wanted a scary place to play it, there was this old - very old- large Victorian style house my parents rented when I was almost 7. We were waiting to get onto our military base housing, and this was on the beach in the summer. Don't know why, but I hated the upstairs. Something about it scared me, and I would never go up alone.

Julia Buckley said...

Children have excellent instincts. Maybe you had a ghost! :)

That house does sound spooky.

John Alferez said...

Sheila, you would be great fun in a game today--just think how much MORE devious you could be now. :)