Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Simple Math

Let's start with the equation: Secret Passages + Creepy Dolls = A Lifetime of Happiness.

And now I'll break it down for you:

My friends and I visited the Mansion on O Street for Presidents' Day (hope all of yours were wonderful, by the way). Technically, it’s five row houses that were bought by the same woman that were then connected. The owner then went on to create themed rooms and connect some of them by secret doorways that guests must find. In addition to this, every surface is covered in random knickknacks and books and artwork. Most of this has been donated to the mansion and everything is for sale. It’s sort of like you wandered into a Victorian episode of Hoarders. And it’s awesome.

First things first, this trip has cemented my plan to one day live in a house with secret passageways. Not only do I want secret doorways to other rooms, I want regular looking doorways that open up to brick walls. I want hallways no one else knows about. I want to pull the secret lever and reveal the trapdoor under the chaise lounge that has a slide that deposits me into the chair behind my desk in the second floor library. Naturally, I’ll have to have different contractors handle different passageways to ensure that no one but me ever knows about all of them. Or maybe I’ll just learn to build them myself.

I remember reading Patrice Kindl’s The Woman in the Wall when I was a kid. The main character, Anna, is so shy that she’s virtually invisible. Scared of going to school, she retreats into the walls of her family’s house, building secret tunnels and rooms where she lives from ages 7 to 14 until a new friendship finally draws her back out into the world. I was never really into the whole disappearing from the world thing, but, man, did I want my own set of secret wall tunnels. A desire, which apparently, has not lessened. So, if Anna could build all these things at the age of seven, I should really be able to figure it out. Right? Right.

In addition to making plans for the totally bitchin’ house that I will one day lord over, I also realized that my mind works in creepier ways than my friends'. In one of the rooms, amid the sea of stuff, was a figurine of Santa Claus. He was sitting in a chair holding a rolling piece of parchment. Checking his list, clearly, whether it was for the first or second time I can’t be sure of. Anyway, there were a number of names on the list in gently sloping cursive. I leaned over to read them and said the first thing that came to mind, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if his list just had all of our names on it?” When I turned back around, I was met with horrified expressions and a chorus of “No.” “What’s wrong with you?” and “That sounds like the beginning of a Goosebumps book.” Despite these negative comments (except for the Goosebumps one, ‘cause that’s just a compliment), I still think it would have been pretty cool. Creepy definitely, but cool.

The conversation reminded me that I need to amp up my doll collecting so that when I have my awesome house I can put them in each room. I plan on having some in plain sight and hiding others so that it takes you a little while before you realize they’re watching you. And then there are the portraits with the cut out eye holes for the hallways. But, that's just a given.

Once I have this all set up, I plan on inviting the friends (providing I haven't scared them away yet) over for a rousing game of Clue.

During which I may or may not hide various family members in the walls to make ghost noises.

Cue maniacal laugh here.

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