Award-winning writer: Jackie Papandrew
Airing My Dirty Laundry!
Teens in a Tree
I’ve never actually seen the 2006 movie-turned-cultural-phenomenon called Snakes on a Plane. If I did, I’m fairly sure I would never get on an airplane again. But using my extraordinary powers of perception (and having seen the commercial for the flick at least 100 times on TV), I was able to get the gist of the plot – namely, that a bunch of snakes invade a plane and cause bedlam in the skies.
For some reason, that’s the scenario that popped into my head the other night when I was faced with a situation perhaps not as lethal, but still scary – a slither of shrieking teenage girls stuck in one of my trees.
It wasn’t exactly the way I expected to celebrate my daughter’s 14th birthday. Oh, I knew she’d probably want to have a slumber party. And I knew I could survive it. I’m a veteran of those wrongly named events where very little actual slumber occurs. Who invented slumber parties anyway? It’s difficult enough to get your own kids to go to bed. Whoever thought it was a good idea to bring in other people’s children and attempt to persuade them to go to sleep at a reasonable hour? I’d like to have a word with that person.
But I went along with what my daughter wanted – it was, after all, her birthday.
At first, the slumber party ran its expected course. There were numerous rounds of nail painting, makeup application and hair braiding, all accompanied by intense discussions of the attributes and faults of various boys the girls knew, and sigh-filled talk about celebrity males they wished they knew. There were secretive sessions of Truth or Dare which would mysteriously cease the moment Mom walked in the room. It was all pretty standard slumber-party stuff that could have happened when I was a teenager, except that the obligatory crank calls were now made by cell phones instead of antiquated land lines, and the high-decibel music now came courtesy of an IPod rather than an LP.
But then, despite the fact that it was well past dark and quite cold outside, the girls decided to go out and play manhunt – a glorified game of hide and seek. They headed across the front yard toward a large, spreading oak tree. One girl got a boost from another and scrambled up into the tree. Then, because adolescent females are prone to a pack mentality (that’s why they go to the bathroom en masse), several other girls decided the tree would make a good hiding place. They inched higher and higher in the stately old arbor’s branches, trying to suppress their giggles as the “hunter” began looking for them.
Unfortunately, the wind picked up about this time and something – maybe a bird or a squirrel or maybe just their active imaginations – stirred up there in the dark. The giggles turned to screams. Teenage girls tend to shriek in tandem, each scream building exponentially on the others. Soon, the whole neighborhood was reverberating with the sound of a manhunt gone manic. Naturally, each girl then professed herself unable to come down the way she’d gone up. No amount of persuasion from me could get them down. They were stuck, like so many oversized kittens, up in that tree.
It was probably Eve who first asked the question we women have been asking ever since: Why is it there's never a man around when you need one?
Every male in my family had made himself scarce that evening. My husband had retreated to a local sports bar, to hang out with other men and do whatever it is men do at such places. But thanks to the magic of cell phones, I was able to summon him home to play fireman. He arrived, giving me one of those “why can’t you handle this?” looks, and immediately fetched a ladder. Climbing up into the tree, he gently coaxed each girl down to safety. I doubt Samuel L. Jackson, battling all those hissing serpents on the plane, was any more heroic. But I’ll bet the snakes were quieter than our teens in the tree. I expect any day now to hear from the vigilant folks on our neighborhood association board. They were probably not amused.
~ © Jackie Papandrew 2008 ~
Jackie Papandrew is an award-winning writer, syndicated humor columnist, coffee addict and mom to a motley crew of children and pets who provide a steady stream of column ideas and dirt. She's also wife to a very patient man who had no idea, years ago when he still had time to escape, what he was getting himself into. Visit her website at: JackiePapandrew.com
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