Fake Kidnapping But Only As a Last Resort

I was reading recently about the boy in Alabama who was so worried about what his parents would think of his report card that he faked his own kidnapping. He showed up at his grandparents’ house some time later, claiming to have escaped from the moving car of his kidnapper. Had to leave the backpack and report card behind, dang it! But was able to carry his instrument case with him.

I don’t know what he plays, but unless it’s the piccolo, there must’ve been some James Bond moves in that story somewhere. My daughter plays the bassoon and she can barely get her instrument case between the vehicles in our driveway when walking into the house, let along out of a kidnapper’s moving car. I’m sure his band director was proud of him, screwing up his fake kidnapping story just to live up to the Never Abandon Your Instrument rule.

And how cute is he, that he thought his parents might never know what grades he got, because he was kidnapped on the day report cards came out? We tell them over and over about the power of the permanent record, but they just don’t listen. Cute little buggers.

The story made me think of a guy I knew in college who faked his own kidnapping to avoid taking a final that he hadn’t studied for.

When my roommate, Doria, and I found out about this, we thought it was the funniest thing that had ever landed in our laps. Whenever we would see him, Doria - who could have been a stand-up comedian she’s so freaking funny - would put a gun-shaped hand to her own head and whisper, “Come with me and nobody gets hurt.” Doria and I got a ton of mileage out of the guy. He seemed to be everywhere we went on campus. And he was dating a girl on our floor (not on our actual floor, people . . . it was the crazy ‘70s and everything you’ve heard is true, but we did sleep on beds).

The kidnap guy and his girlfriend were one of the more unusual couples in our dorm and that’s saying a lot, believe me. He had the whole fake kidnapping thing attached to him like a barnacle for life, and she was seriously obsessive-compulsive disordered, but this was before we knew it was a Medical Condition, a real thing with a label and a doctor’s excuse. We thought she was just really clean.

She took seven showers a day and washed her hair three times a day. Sometimes more. If she got any dirt on her at all, or sweated, she would throw in a couple extra showers.

She had long straight shiny hair and she had to blow dry it after every hair washing. We would be fascinated, listening to her tell about the showers, which she did gladly, for our amusement. (The story went something like this: She took a shower when she first woke up, before anything else. Then she’d take another shower and go to breakfast. Then she’d zip back to the dorm and take another shower before her first class. There were more showers in between some classes and then a few more at night. About every other shower she’d wash and dry her hair. God, I’m exhausted and dry-skinned just thinking about it.) She, too, was unaware of the OCD thing. “I’m just really clean,” she told us. We agreed and did not call the Help Hotline to tell on her.

I was not without my own weirdnesses in college (I almost tore out both of my eyebrows worrying about a psych paper I had to write about auditory processing. Let’s face it: I was weird.) But that did not stop me from ruthlessly making fun of the kidnap guy.

I can honestly say that as unprepared as I’ve been for some finals, I always saved my ace in the hole - the All Nighter - for my get-out-of-jail-free card and I knew better than to use that up and have nothing left. (Nothing but a fake kidnapping, that is.)

I never took as much as a No-Doz to stay up late either, and I’m not just saying that because my kids read this. My roommates - who, once we were out of the dorm and living in large groups in commune-like houses, were a bizarre combination of drop-dead gorgeous professional models, druggies and one cage dancer - knew what to take to stay up late without putting your heart into arrhythmia. But I just drank coffee, stayed up and studied my head off. Sometimes Doria would stay up with me and tell me jokes and do impersonations to keep me alert. I graduated cum laude with no serious addictions (other than coffee) and got a job in my field, weirdnesses and all.

And as far as the report card years, I did have one bad experience. In the fourth grade, Miss Patrick gave me my first C and I walked the 50 yards from the school to my house in a trance. I had no feeling in my arms and had a cold chill. Looking back now, I’m sure that I was in shock and needed to have a warm blanket thrown over me stat. I crossed the street without waiting for the safety patrol guard and he - a big eighth grader - was yelling at me to stop and I just kept walking right into my front door, where I approached my mother and tried to tell her about the C report card tragedy, but I had held in tears long enough that I had that breathing thing where you are spasmodically inhaling in short bursts and you can’t talk or exhale properly.

“I  *heeee*  GOT  *heeee*  A  *heeeee*  C  *heeeee*  ON  *heeeeeeeeee*  MY  *heeee*  REPORT  *heeee heee*  CARD!” I managed to wheeze out my message.

As stressful as that was, and as trying as college was, I can proudly say that I never considered faking my own kidnapping.

I may have had no eyebrows, but at least I had my dignity.

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