Wednesday, July 19, 2006

You Must Be THIS Tall to Enter

You’re probably wondering what adventures have kept me away from posting here for a week. C’mon, I know you were.

Several things, which I may talk about later. But truly the most fascinating adventure happened tonight. At McDonald’s of all places.

The kids had been good while we were on another one of our adventures today. So after going to the library to pick up their prizes for the summer reading program, I took them to McDonald’s so they could play and I could write.

We get here early and the place is nearly deserted. It’s just us and a grandma and grandpa with two-and four-year-old boys. Shortly after we begin eating one of the boys is screaming in terror from inside the play maze. The grandma and grandpa call for him to come down. They send the four-year-old up after him. He goes up and comes down several times, seemingly unconcerned about his little brother’s emotions. Sounds about right for a four-year-old boy.

Finally, I lean over to my daughter and ask her to go up and see if she can help the little boy get down. She loves helping little kids, which is about right for an eight-year-old girl. She goes up and is gone for five minutes. Finally, we see her and the little boy out one of the portholes. His face is red and blotchy, snot running from his nose. My daughter’s using her most patient voice (one I never hear her using with her brother), trying to talk the boy down. He’s not budging. He can see Grandma and Grandpa, and he can’t understand why they can’t get him.

Grandma starts towards the tunnel and begins crawling in. No way is that going to work, I’m thinking. She figures this out, too, and backs out. But the only way this little boy is going to get out is if a grown-up comes to get him.

Which would apparently be me. Even though I'm over 5'9", I’m flexible so I figure I can worm my way up there.

Except for one thing.

I’m claustrophobic.

I hate small spaces. I especially hate small tubes. I won’t go on waterslides that have tubes, thinking somehow it’ll close in on me and drown me in three inches of water. I'm sure this all goes back to the time I was traumatized by my brothers who stuffed me in a backpacking mummy sleeping bag. They yanked the drawstring, closing the small opening over my face to a pinhole. My chest starts closing up just thinking about it.

Childhood trauma aside, that boy isn’t coming down unless I go up there. Where’s Sharon Hinck and her Secret Life of Becky Miller red cape when I need it?

I kick off my sandals and start crawling inside the tube. It can't be that bad. I'll just crawl up, get the boy, and crawl back down. I can do it. It's not that easy. How do kids do this? I’m stuck with the choice of crawling on hard plastic on my knees, which isn’t comfortable, or trying to get my feet under me. Problem is, my legs are too long and threaten to wedge me in this hot, plastic tube which is getting smaller by the minute. It’s not my imagination, I swear.

I make my way through the tube which starts winding up. I can’t see what’s around the bend. Sounds echo through out, and it’s really hot. I can feel myself starting to panic, but I push it back down. I get to one of the intersections and yell for my daughter. I hear her voice but I can’t figure out where it’s coming from. I can just imagine getting stuck in here, the fire department pulling me out. Of course, how would they get in here?

Just then, little “Calvin” comes scampering up. I had told him to stay down at the table and finish eating. I was also hoping he’d guard my purse and laptop which were at the table. Though I suppose if I’m rescuing their grandson, Grandma and Grandpa won’t boost my stuff.

“Hey, where’s your sister?” I ask my son.

“This way, Mom.”

Good. My kids frequenting McDonald’s has paid off. They can help me navigate out of this human Habitrail.

After more turns and climbs, with multiple reminders to myself to breathe, I reach my daughter and the little boy. I find it interesting that even though my daughter is clearly a “big kid” to the little boy, he still doesn’t trust her the way he trusts me, an adult.

“Hey, buddy. You want to go see Grandma and Grandpa?”

His eyes get big and he nods.

“Okay. Follow her. I’ll be right with you.”

My daughter and son lead the way, and I coax the little boy from the rear. As we’re heading down the slide, me half sliding, half scooting, I become afraid that my weight might make me pick up speed and knock all three kids out of the shoot like human pin balls. However, we all make it safely down, and the Tiszai Family Rescue Squad saves their first victim. The little boy runs to Grandma, and they are all extremely grateful. Too bad they weren’t editors; I bet I could have gotten a book contract out of them. I manage to uncurl myself from the tube and straighten my reddened knees (I'll have bruises tomorrow, I'm sure), grateful to breathe air-conditioned air again and be in a room larger than two feet in diameter.

I may have conquered the human Habitrail, but I’m still not going on a waterslide that has a tube.


  1. Congratulations on conquering your phobia/fear! Moms can do almost anything if they want to.

  2. That's hilarious (and harrowing).

    Congratulations on your first family rescue. Keep this up and you guys will have your own cartoon or comic book soon.

  3. Hey, since when did you become a superhero? What a team! LOL! Hope the rest of your week is less adventurouse, and, um...roomy. ;-)

  4. I don't know: I think it would be funnier if you had two broken arms in the story. Then Snyder could do his inchworm break-dancing moves. :o

    Also, you rock! Congrats.

  5. Knowing Jen the way I know her, there probably was a small, small part of her brain that thought about what it would be like to be rescued from being stuck inside a playtube in a McDonalds by some big firemen. Nah!

    ...and I agree with Chris: thinking of Jen inside a playtube in a McDonalds with two broken elbows would be funnier. And since I won't be at the next Writer's Conference, I'll need someone to shoot video of Mr. Snyder's version of "Break (elbow) Dancing."

  6. Peter, you gotta come to the writer's conference. We need to start masterminding our World Dominance Blog about hair-metal guitarists and nail polish!

  7. I can't breathe. You ARE a superwoman! Admit it, you did have the cape, right? I'm claustrophobic too, and there's no way I would have gotten that kid. Sorry. "Oh McDonald's manager..."

    Glad you don't have broken elbows:)

  8. OH MY GOSH JEN! This is hillarious! I feel for you but kudo's for conquering your tube fear to save a little boy!

  9. Hey, you could use this experience in a story and write about it first hand!

  10. LOL. You rock!

    Can you believe how hard that stuff is on your knees? I took Tanner to the park and thought I'd crawl through one of those tubes. I'm a hip mom. Right??? Wow! Those plastic tubes hurt thirty-something knees. Next time take knee pads. Just in case. ;)

  11. Good job Tiszais! You all deserve ice cream for that. And Hagen Daez for you Jen! Oh wait, that would melt with the heat you're living in. Uh, lollipops?

    Oh well, I'l figure something out. :)

  12. You guys are funny. If I had two broken arms, I would have had an out for climbing up there. Though Mike's interpretive dance of that possibility could be quite entertaining.

    Yeah, and, Peter, my reaction to the firemen rescuing me? Mortification, then quizzing them about their jobs for my next wip. I'd bring you to the next conference, but then all the funny people would want to hang out with you and I'd be all alone. :( But maybe if you promise to be good . . .

    And, Sabrina, that stuff is really hard on your knees. I thought kids had less padding than we do. I don't know how they do it. My knees have little purple spots on them today. It's quite fetching, actually.

  13. I'm not claustrophobic but had to remember to breathe while reading your account. I could just feel that plastic python!
    I have an 8 yo that sounds exactly like yours! She'd love to jump in for the rescue! She's my right hand girl!
    Nice site...

  14. Peter (aka Jen's hubby)July 21, 2006 at 5:35 PM

    Hey Mike! Although I appreciate the invite, I believe that one needs to know "how to write" in order to attend a "writer's conference". My riting and spelng is somwat qwestonabel.

    Do you think Angus Young, Van Halen, and Ritchie Blackmore wore nail polish, and if so, what was their favorite color? If we blog about George Lynch, Y.Malmsteen, Steve Vai and Slash, should we discuss what kind of hair spray was used, and what kind of effect the chemicals in their hair had on Global Warming?

    ...and once again, Jen's blog has gone into a totally different direction! Congrats!

  15. Peter, funny you should ask...I've seen photos of every single one of those guys wearing nail polish except for Eddie and Angus (sounds like a pub, no?). But I've seen more of both those guys than I care to remember (Angus routinely mooned the crowd, part of his schtick. I only saw Eddie do it once...but that was plenty, thank you very much.)

    And of course we'll need to get into hairspray as well. Think of all the instances of pyrotechnics gone haywire and igniting some bone head rocker in the middle of his two-hand-tapping solo.

    And if you don't have it yet, pick up a copy of Vai's The Seventh One. The liner notes explain the significance of the title (weird dude!). And it's the only album of his (or most of these guys) that I pop in from time to time.

    Ahhh, but the memories...

  16. Ah hem, Mike and Peter, you all might need a little more than hairspray to get the big hair look . . . just saying (and ducking).

  17. If you'll notice, Jen, that's exactly why Peter and I have been hooking up for some online wig shopping. We do have to keep our day jobs, after all.

  18. Jen, wanted you to know I've moved my blogging to Wordpress...and added you to the blogroll! Have a great Sunday!

  19. Please, Jen, tell me Peter is staying home. Love the dude (in a weirdo he's-my-crit-partner's-other-half sort of way) and if he came and drew all the crowds, I'd still stick with you, but all that aside, where would I sleep????? Please! Make your guy stay home! (You're scaring me Peter!)

    Abundant blessings,
    Jenny Cary