Years from now, I may have to explain to a medical professional—potentially court-appointed—that I was the person who introduced my two youngest children to cannibalism.
We were on our way to watch Liam’s acting debut in his Drama Camp’s six-scene play called “Potions 4 Peace.” In accordance with my modus operandi, we were running about ten minutes late. I hustled the kids into the Flynn Center’s elevator. Henry lifted up “Piggy” (his ever-present companion) to push the button for the third floor. For the millionth time, I tried not to think about the germs that are undoubtedly embedded in Piggy’s stuffing.
The elevator rose two levels and stopped. We could hear the muffled shrieks of excited children and the buzz of parents being affable on the other side of the door. The door, however, remained closed.
We were stuck.
I am not normally claustrophobic but the thought of being trapped in a tiny metal box, three (or more) stories up, for an undefined amount of time, with two small children, without books, games, food or water…it made me dizzy.
Eventually, someone in the performance space came over to investigate who was repeatedly ringing the elevator’s bell. I explained the situation to her and she promised to get help. Satisfied that we would be sprung soon, I returned my attention to Nora and Henry, who were making the transition from confused to panicked. More white than brown was visible in their eyes.
“Are we going to be in here FOREVER???” Nora squeaked.
Looking at Henry, I said with all the gravity I could muster: “I say we eat the Pig first.”
Henry squealed and put Piggy behind his back. For him, Piggy’s dissection is a fate far worse than death by elevator.
My intention was to distract—not frighten—them, so, I smiled. Henry immediately realized that his mother was making a sick joke and started giggling.
I continued the game. “Piggy is too small. I suggest that you eat me first. I’m bigger so I’ll last longer. Where do you think you’ll start? My ears?”
Henry giggled again. Nora smirked, and then they both embraced the game with a startling fervor. Fingers! Elbows! Armpits! I began to second-guess my distraction strategy. “Ok, ok, guys,” I said, “You know that we don’t eat people.” More smirks and giggles.
A voice crept into our coffin. “Stay calm. The fire department is here.”
Fantastic. We would not become the Donner party.
Another voice, this one was apologetic: “Umm, I’m sorry, but, we need to start the play.”
Multiple Miss Mary Macks later, the doors opened onto a darkened room in which ten-year old wizards were hatching a diabolical plan to take over the world.
I hurriedly thanked the bevy of ax-wielding firefighters for rescuing us and then slunk to a seat. My cheeks were on fire.
“Reducto!” shouted a wizard, completely in character. True professionals, the drama kids hadn’t missed a beat. The show had gone on and I, for one, was thoroughly grateful for it.