..Marian Black..

Sneak Out!

When you're a kid sometimes you just have to sneak out. I'm a regular "Goodie 2 Shoes." Always have been always will be. For the most part, I do the right thing, and stay out of trouble. All my friends were good kids too. It's amazing that even though I was raised in the era of free love, drugs and rock and roll, I managed to stay away from all the bad stuff.

I was a good kid, yet my parents never trusted me. They were quite over-protective. I was not allowed to go to pajama parties (my mother couldn't keep an eye on me there); not allowed to go camping with the girl scouts (I might catch a cold); not allowed out after dark (someone might take me), and not allowed to cross the street (I might get hit by a car).

This went on until the time I got married, at 23. In fact, when most kids were already driving their own cars, I did not even have my driver's license. I wasn't allowed to drive the family car until the day of my road test on my 17th birthday. I think they wanted me to fail. Probably the only reason the guy from the motor vehicle passed me for my license was because he felt sorry for me.

I was terribly frustrated and embarrassed about being so sheltered. So, I did what any normal teenager would do in a situation like that. I snuck out of the house. This was my only way to keep my sanity and good name. I had sneaking out down to a science. Beginning at dinnertime I would get quiet and mildly complain, either about nausea or a headache. At 9:30pm I would announce that I felt the need to go to bed. "I'll probably feel better tomorrow." I asked that no one disturb me, for they might wake me up, of course. I walked slowly up the stairs, made a little noise in the bathroom, fixed my hair, sprayed on another layer of deodorant, and brushed my teeth. I went into my room, stuffed my bed to make it look like I was lying there and turned off the light. I listened for a few minutes to make sure no one was on to me. No one knew, but I always had a secret desire to be a Ninja. Finally, a way to live my fantasy!

As I transformed into the Ninja, I donned my black turtleneck and black jeans.

Every time I would do sneak out it felt just like the first. My heart would be racing, palms sweating, and I would be trying to control my breathing so no one would hear me. OooooHaaaaa! Wish I knew Tai Chi! I slowly lifted the old, heavily painted wood frame window, upon which I would occasionally spray WD-40 to get the best glide with less squeaks. I removed the screen and set it to the side. Always slowly and quietly, slipping out onto the porch roof, closing the window behind, leaving a small gap at the bottom to allow a safe return.

I kept crouched down, on alert as any good Ninja would be, virtually invisible, scaling the roof. Creeping over to the stately pine tree, standing at the side of the porch, it seemed like it was planted there just for me. Hang one leg over the side of the roof at a time, give it a slight leap, and lower myself branch by branch. Passing the first floor living room window was really dangerous. It would be so easy to be spotted. (As strict as my parents were, I'm sure the punishment for this crime would carry with me past my childbearing years!)

Once on the ground, the great Ninja would watch and wait for the coast to be clear, quickly cross the street and run down to the next block where my friends would be waiting for me. And off we would go to the drive-in, or the bowling alley. I did this, rain or shine, even when there was snow on the roof. This escape was extremely critical to keep my sanity and, of course, good name. Then one night, I thought my Ninja nights were over.

Growing up on Long Island we would say goodbye to our wonderful summers with our annual Labor Day Dead-End block party. Our house was located on the corner. We would rope off the dead end at the side of our house and all the neighbors dragged out their redwood picnic tables, which were covered with red and white-checkered tablecloths. The vinyl strapped folding chairs came out, forming several circles. And of course it wouldn't be a true block party without the bar-b-q's. We would set out the plasticware, paper plates, relish, catsup, mustard, and Kool Aid. You could smell the lighter fluid and charcoal a block away, then, slowly and steadily the aroma of perfectly cooked hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken would fill the air. Yum! My mouth watered until I couldn't wait to satisfy my craving by filling my plate and my tummy with at least one of everything, then adding potato and macaroni salads and baked beans. I savored every bite. I always over-ate at this event but the pain was worth it. There were games of stickball and stoop ball to work off the meal and make room for the smores and toasted marshmallows.

On this particular Labor Day Dead-End block celebration, my friends left the party earlier, planning to meet up at 10:00pm on Broad Street. About 9:30pm that night I did my usual thing. I think I told the folks I may have had too much mayonnaise and it got to me. I excused myself, left the party, went upstairs and began the usual routine. Stuffed the bed, donned my Ninja outfit and sneakers. I lifted the window, slid out on the roof, and just as I was about to climb down the tree, I saw Mrs. Bayer, our neighbor, walking towards the house.

Oh no! I laid down on the roof in a flash, as flat as I could make myself. My heart was pounding! I was hoping to be stealth in my Ninja clothing. This was the true test. I think my heart stopped and I quit breathing for at least 5 minutes. It seemed like an eternity. This was the first time anyone was close enough to expose the great Ninja. This was it! My sneaking out days were over! I would be punished until the end of time. How much worse and strict could they possibly be? I'll never be allowed out of back yard for as long as I live. I bet I won't even be allowed out of the house! Never to see another movie. Never to throw another strike.

Never, ever to be a Ninja ever again!!!???

Mrs. Bayer veered right and went into the dead end to join the party. Whew! Close call!

Quickly, I shimmied down the tree and raced across the street, down the block, to Broad Street where my buds were waiting. I bragged to them about the close call and how cool I was that I didn't get caught. I was invincible and invisible! The ultimate Ninja!

About ten years had passed since that summer night, I am married, mother of two beautiful boys, and was living out of state. I hadn't thought about those days of sneaking out of the house in years. I took the boys home for a visit. Mrs. Bayer had been deceased for few years, but Mr. Bayer still managed to stop by the house occasionally to have coffee with my mom. During this visit Mr. Bayer, my mom and I were enjoying some coffee, a little pie and conversation. It was a lovely time. Mom excused herself from the table for a moment to run down the basement to pick something out of the freezer for dinner, one of her signature lasagnas.

As soon as Mr. Bayer knew Mom on the other side of the basement, rumbling through the freezer, he leaned over to me and quietly whispered, "Mrs. Bayer saw you on the roof of your house on Labor Day ten years ago and never told your mother." I was speechless. Thank you, Mrs. Bayer! And God bless!

Here's the house I grew up in. My room was the top right window. The stately pine tree is still there!

My Ninja training helped raise those two boys of mine. They never managed to sneak out of the house without getting caught!

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