09/30/2014 06:01 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Day We Taped Our Babysitter to a Chair


This is one of those stories it will be hard to explain to the grandchitterlings, as well as Saint Peter at the golden gates of heaven.

I believe that all humans are innately good, including me and my little brother on the night that we duct-taped our babysitter to the kitchen chair.

We just wanted to do her hair and make-up. And trust me, the girl needed it.

She was our neighbor in a mountain dust-hole of, oh, a dozen houses. Our nearest "big city" was Masonville, whose current population -- about 700 people -- has more than quadrupled since I was a kidnapping kid. And little miss Babysitter's Club didn't even have electricity. In the '80s.

Think about that.


Luckily/unluckily for her, we did.

Sometimes, you have to go great lengths for a fashion intervention.

We lugged a chair to the bathroom, right in front of the mirror. Then we unloaded onto the counter my mom's dump truck of blue and green eye shadows, curling irons and enough Aqua Net to single-handedly blow a hole through Mother Earth's soul. I instructed our babysitter to sit on the chair. And half-attentive and clearly just eager to pass the time so she could get back to daydreaming about Michael J. Fox, she did. Bam! The trap snared.

We chatted while I casually began taping her hands behind her back. My brother, with his curly mullet with radical zigzags shaved into the side, took care of her ankles. One secured to each leg of the chair. She giggled. I plugged in the spiral curling iron and slowly dragged a ratting comb across my stonewashed denim. Then she gulped.

She thought we were playing a game. Until the third roll of duct tape and the realization that she couldn't, in fact, get out of the chair. She protested and began squirming. It was easier to reach her bangs after she rocked the chair onto the floor. Like Leonard Cohen, we broke her throne and cut her hair, and from her lips we drew a "I'm gonna tell your mom!" Hallelujah, she looked good as she threatened our very lives, though.

As a talented and, ahem, highly motivated 7-year-old, assisted by my 4-year-old brother, we transformed Laura Ingalls Wilder to Cyndi Awesome Lauper. Complete with crimping, braids, pink permanent market highlights and the tallest bangs on this side of Texas.

Needless to say, when my parents arrived and cut her loose, the babysitter swore she'd never return. And my parents had to leave her a major tip.

That is, after my mom casually remarked, "Your hair looks great. The elephant ears were a risky but good choice," followed by, "Only duct tape, eh? You got off easy."

Before she grounded us for about 13 years.

The next school day, I saw the babysitter across the playground. As she spun in the opposite direction and began running away from me, I noticed something in her hair: a new pink braid. It looked great, even while flapping against her cheek as she ran.

I took that as a thank you.

Photo by Flickr user Dale Gillard.