Off the Line: Sometimes the plans of mice and men…

The reality is your odds of being a victim of terrorists are exponentially greater than, let’s say, the 1950s.

9-11. Paris. Israel. Iraq.

I guess it doesn’t matter where you are, it’s time to face it: the reality is your odds of being a victim of terrorists are exponentially greater than, let’s say, the 1950s.

When I was growing up our childhood peace was rocked by the horrifying knowledge that the newest threat to human beingwas not “the bomb” but serial killers.

Of course, coming from the age where children sat in their flannel pajamas in the mornings and carefully read each andevery word on surprise-pillaged packages of breakfast cereal, the only “cereal” type word we had in our innocent vocabularywas spelled with a C and not an S.

Such was the fear of serial killers in my early teens and growing up in Seattle, that it drove my friend and I to devise a planby which we would escape a serial killer/rapist should it ever become necessary during our hitchhiking days.

Mom and dad warned us about hitchhiking. But come on! We were living in the idyllic ‘60s in which peace and love wereextolled and practiced to the extreme. Ted Bundy? He was just a boogie man that our parents threatened us with so that wewould abide by their curfew rules.

But just the same I still checked under the bed and in the closet for boogie men each night before bed, and despite my ripeold age of 15, my friend and I still devised a bubble gum plan in which we would foil any attempts upon our nubile youngbodies.

Because I was the taller and thus the heftier of the two, my friend Jeannie and I decided that should we find ourselves in aless than satisfactory situation while riding in a stranger’s car while hitchhiking we would become like Superwoman or someother mythical or comic hero and foil the would-be murderer/rapist.

The plan was simple. Because, as mentioned above, I was the heftier of the two, when offered a ride when hitchhiking, Iwould get in first, putting myself in the front seat beside the would-be perpetrator. Jeannie would ride beside the door.

Being the best of friends we had all our looks down pat. I knew what that frown of hers was; what that slight shift of theeyes to the right meant, and I certainly could read emotion, such as fear upon her face.

Thus we agree that should we find ourselves in such a precarious situation, we would signal each other with our eyes. Thatwould be the cue where she would open the car door and begin bailing out, and I would grab the keys from the ignition,bail out right behind her and then quickly toss the keys in the opposite position of which we were likely going to betravelling.

Silly huh? We might as well have carried Kryptonite.

But guess what? Sometimes the plans of mice and men….

I remember the day clearly. It was a Saturday and the big thing to do on Saturday afternoons was to hitchhike down to the UDistrict (the university area). Once down there, we would do what the other teens were doing. We sat on the hill in our fauxhippy clothes, smoked pot and shot everyone the peace sign.

That day our worst nightmare became true. As usual, we had no trouble getting a ride. The only problem was after about 10minutes it became frighteningly clear to us that we were not heading towards the U District. In fact, we were heading in theopposite direction into some heavily forested area.

Jeannie and I shot quick looks at each other and knew we were in deep trouble. With a slight nod of the head and anunderstanding blink of the eyes we put our plan into place.

As soon as the driver slowed the car to make a turn, a turn which we knew would seal our fate, Jeannie threw the door open,I jammed my foot near the brake and when the driver threw the car into park I grabbed the keys from the ignition and doveout of the car right behind Jeannie who was a good 10 feet in front of me by then.

Quickly throwing the keys without hardly looking where they landed I beat feet right behind Jeannie, my heart pounding likecrazy and tears of fear running down my face.

Interestingly enough, we were never pursued by our would-be molester. I supposed he was too busy trying to find his keys.Luck was with us that afternoon.

To this day I am surprised that our half-baked, hair-brained idea worked. Unfortunately for Jeannie and I, that was the daythat our rose-coloured glasses were adjusted to true blue.

Thinking back, I now realize that with what is happening in our world, the boogie man is still alive and well. But now,instead of hiding under beds and in closets and driving young girls into woods, it is right there in front of us, our childrenand our grandchildren in horrific colours on TV. What a sad thing.