Wistful memories of days long past danced through my mind and a wry grin spread across my face, when I saw a Facebook post this week asking if anyone ever tried sneaking out of their house when they were a youngster.
Well, kind of, I thought.
Some friends and I were successful at “sneaking out” when we were young teens “camping out,” which more often than not meant we were sleeping in a trailer parked in one of our driveways. We’d wait until a bit after the lights in our homes went out, then slip into the quiet of the night to find whatever adventure we could find. And at least one summer night a friend and I were successful in slipping out of his house and back inside before anyone was awake — as far as we knew.
But the two times I tried, or seriously thought about, sneaking out of my parents’ house I did not make it. The first time I got caught, and the second time I chickened out.
The first time one of my brothers was in on the “escape” plan. There was a large sliding window obove the headboard of the bed in my bedroom. If we dared, we could climb out the window, drop three of four feet down to the roof that sloped downward toward the backside of our carport, from there we could jump the six or so feet down to the yard, and off we’d roam. Or so we thought.
On that first night my brother made it to my bedroom. We were dressed and about ready to climb out the window when we heard some rustling that turned into the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs that led to our bedrooms. As panic set it, we had maybe five seconds to make a decision.
My brother jumped into a bathroom that could only be accessed through my bedroom, yanked off his clothes, threw them in the dirty clothes bin in the bathroom, and sat down on the toilet (I’ll have to give him credit because that was some pretty quick thinking).
But, since the stairs were directly outside my bedroom door, my options were limited. So, fully clothed, I dove into bed and pulled the sheet up to my neck — on a hot summer night in a home where there was no upstairs air-conditioning.
I figured our chances of not getting caught were slim, and I was correct, at least as far as I was concerned. As soon as my mom opened my bedroom door she took one look at me, pulled back the sheets to find me fully clothed, and there was no way to squirm my way out of that predicament.
About that time my mother opened the bathroom door to find my brother seated on the throne. Somehow, while I was experiencing the wrath of a disappointed and none to happy mother, my brother was able to slink back to his room without ever getting in trouble. Although I am certain my mother had her suspicions, there was little she could say considering the way she found him.
You’d think that would have cured me of trying to sneak out. But we’d had a lot of fun on those camping out nights, so the temptation always there.
Sometime later a friend tried to talk me into sneaking out of the same bedroom window to meet him and some buddies. I do not remember the exact plan, but they were supposed to show up in our backyard and I’d come out to the meet them. It didn’t work that way.
I was sound asleep that night when I awoke to see two arms reaching inside the sliding window just above my head. Not even half awake, let me tell you it can be more than a little frightening when you look up to see two arms reaching toward your neck. It’s a wonder I didn’t wake the whole house up.
But before I screamed, I remembered the conversation with my friend and then I heard his voice. He had climbed atop the back of the carport, walked a fairly long distance across the roof, and opened my window without waking anyone up. Then he told me to look outside. It seems reasonable that since he had made it that far without being detected, it would have emboldened me a bit.
But when I looked out the window through the rising fog of the cool night, the other people I saw didn’t look so much like friends. They looked more like ghostly creatures from some horror show.
I don’t know if it was the arms reaching in my window, the fog-shrouded friends, or the look I remembered on my mother’s face from months before. But despite my friend’s pleas, there was no way I was crawling out that window on that night. As a matter of fact, although I knew I disappointed a friend, I felt pretty satisfied as I watched the foggy figures fade into the night, then settled back down in bed — after locking my window.
I never tried to sneak out of the house again.
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at [email protected] or 937-402-2522.