I am the youngest of four children. A “surprise” if you ask my parents, a “mistake” if you ask my siblings, and a “party crasher” if you ask me. Being seven years younger than my closest sibling, much of my childhood was spent watching movies, reading mystery books, and writing fantastical short stories to be later performed as a one woman puppet show in my room.
Seeing as I had only myself for entertainment, my imagination ran wild with adventure and tales of great woe. Seeing as my parents were the age of my classmates’ grandparents, I was convinced they would be dead before I graduated eighth grade. I thought, I’d better prepare myself for how to live alone. Thus began the many escapades of Jess, lone street rat and orphan girl, hiding out by day in her makeshift cave and creeping by night stealing fruit snacks from the pantry cupboards. She was not to be toyed with!
The stairwell in our house had a banister at the top with a few bars running horizontally for looks and structural support. The space between the stairs and the first bar became the secret crevice to enter my hideaway and had to be crawled through on one’s stomach. Once safely in my room, a string or jump rope was tied from the dresser handle across the room to the plant stand which doubled as a storage unit for my mass quantity of Cabbage Patch Dolls (Annette, Lanny, Paula, Patti, Heather, Tay, Humphrey, Barney, Keri Ann, Sara, Sloane, Chrissy, Pat, Camilla and Suzette). After the string was tied, blankets were thrown over the line creating a secret canvas covered hideout or puppet show theater depending on your mood. Hidden behind these draperies the cries from the streets of “Riffraff!” and “Scoundrel!” could not harm me.
The challenge while playing orphan was to go as long as possible being unseen. So, to sneak food, one had to crawl through the secret crevice over the stairwell, descend the steps, slide down the frame of the door, quickly crawl under the dining room table and wait until opportunity came. Then, you crab walked into the kitchen, silently opened the pantry door, pulled out a fruit roll-up or box of croutons, and crab walked back under the table to delight in your stolen afternoon snack.
Another challenge in the game of orphan could only be played when left alone in the house for short periods of time. The game was called “don’t touch the carpet” and it counted how many times you could get around the living room using only the furniture before you slipped or fell onto the carpet. Here’s how an expert at this game does it.
- Begin on the couch.
- Bounce across its cushions.
- Step onto the end table, avoid coasters and magazine piles.
- Jump onto the loveseat.
- Repeat step 2.
- Stretch legs to the rocking chair and go!
- Steady yourself, or pretend to surf for awhile.
- Stretch onto the smaller end table.
- Move to the chair in the corner.
- *Note: The final task is extremely difficult if playing in sock feet, proceed with caution. Step 10. Crawl onto the TV, and cling for dear life on the frame around the screen, when a good distance jump is there, jump back to the couch. Repeat steps 1-10.
One thing I learned while playing orphan is that you get lonely. You really need a sidekick. Soon I had two, a cat named Carmel and a dog named Tipper. Make sure your sidekick is someone you can trust with secrets, such as your hideaway whereabouts. Sometimes when you’re an orphan, a secret language must be developed so you can leave written messages to your pals without an invader knowing what it means. These can then be conveniently pinned to your canvas with a clothespin.
So if you’re thinking about playing the game Orphan, here’s a list of supplies you may want to include.
- blankets to build your hideaway/take a nap
- stuffed animals/dolls for trusty sidekicks
- junk food for the road, the days are long are arduous as an orphan
- paper and pens/markers because orphans are extremely intelligent and creative
- a tape recorder and microphone because orphans are known to burst into song when they’re safely hidden in their getaway home
What sort of games did you play as a child? Who would you take as your sidekick?