Parent’s Night Out

Mrs Kaufman was in a tizzy. An old friend she hadn’t seen in years had called out of the blue and offered her a dinner out and a chance to see a Broadway play in New York. The Kaufman’s lived about five blocks from us and were good family friends. Their daughter Missy was a friend of my sisters and Scott was one of my hang out buddies. She needed a babysitter as she was going to meet her husband at Grand Central and then her friend at Keene’s Chop House on time. I answered the door to her knock and she asked if my sister was around. She was, and I called up the stairs to her. She came down and listened as Mrs. Kaufman explained her predicament and said she’d be ever so grateful if my sis could watch over Scott and Missy. My sister had already been pressed into service to keep an eye on me for the night, my parents going to New York for a similar but different restaurant and show combination. My sister accepted the duty and Mrs. Kaufman trotted off thrilled that things were going to work out.

About an hour later a car pulled into the circular driveway and Scott and Missy got out, waving to their mom and she disappeared down the street. Scott and I immediately went into the basement where I was building a go kart with a lawnmower motor I’d bought at a yard sale for three bucks. Missy and my sister went up to her room to look at fashion magazines and talk about boys. I was twelve and felt insulted at the idea I needed a babysitter. My sister was only a year older, but the family and their friends thought of her a just sooo mature and responsible and ahead of her times. When a couple of boys called up an hour or so after we kids were on our own under the responsible watch of my sister, they made arrangements for the boys to come over and visit. After all, we had a big house all to ourselves, and to the boys delight, my dad had a lot of beer and liquor because my parents entertained frequently. With moderation, a few beers or an inch or two from a liquor bottle would go unnoticed.

The girls and their paramours le soir took not time to isolate themselves from us ‘little kids’, sequestering themselves in the large living room where my dad’s Fisher HiFi was installed. As Fats Domino, Richie Valens, Elvis Presley and other sang their hearts out, Scott and I decided to catch the train into New York. Scott said he had a girl friend at school and that she and a girlfriend were having a slumber party at their Sutton Place apartment, and that mom and dad had left the girls under the watchful eye of the doorman who, according to the girls, was a real cool guy. We knew we had until about 2:30 in the morning because our parents would ride the last train from Grand Central that stopped in Darien. All we had to do was make sure we took the 1:20 am train and we’d be in like Flynn.

My dad owned a Packard Clipper and had just purchased a Volkswagen bug which he’d bought after a trip to Germany during which he’d rented one and liked it. He had to wait six weeks for his ordered Beetle to arrive. Since that time he used it to drive to the train station each morning and back home at night. The Packard got used when my mother drove or rode along. She didn’t like the little cars, afraid she’d be crushed by a truck or falling rocks in the tiny vehicle. The keys were always o my dad’s bureau in the room he shared with mom, so I scarfed the keys and we climbed into the car to drive to the station.

We lived in a private area which was a part of the Tokeneke section of Darien. We had our own patrolling security, among which was the dreaded Murphy. Office Murphy was an angry and dyspeptic old codger who hated everyone and everything, but mostly he hated the pampered rich kids that lived on his patrol area. So as we buzzed past him in my dad’s beetle, he recognized immediately two things. One, I was driving and two, I was speeding. He immediately execute a U turn and sped after the beetle with his lights flashing and siren wailing. “Oh, no.” said Scott. It’s Murphy.” We had the brief hope it was one of the other cops; they would give us a lecture and send us home after extracting a promise we wouldn’t do it again. But not Murphy. If he could, we just knew he’d shoot us or see to it we got the electric chair. I pulled over and Scott sulked. Murphy stopped behind, got out of his car and swaggered up to the car, flashlight in hand, and shining it at us. It was summer and so it was still light out, being only about 7:30 in the evening. While he stood off to the side making a production out of taking out his ticket book, Scoot said “Just go.” I thought about it a moment and realized from overhearing my parents that he wasn’t really a cop but a security officer in private employment to the Tokeneke Association. Once we left the zone, he couldn’t follow. So I stuck it in gear and sped away, leaving Murphy at the side of the road in disbelief at what I’d just done. He regained himself and jumped into his Plymouth and sped after us, lights and siren going.

What we didn’t know was that he had a radio and the Darien cops were more than happy to take up where Murphy had to leave off. So no sooner than we burst from the private confines we found ourselves at a city police roadblock. Worse yet, a couple of cars pulled in behind, cutting off any possible retreat. That was when we learned that Murphy, a former Darien cop, was able to use his authority so long as the transgression began in his patrol area. The cops, all shaking their heads and giving us serious looks, clucked and made tsk-tsk noises as they handed us off to Satan incarnate. We found ourselves handcuffed and in the back of Murphy’s squad car. “It’s prison for you boys now.”  he said, smirking and relishing his victory. Scott was so frightened that he wet his pants.

Murphy made a sniffing noise and said “You better not have peed in my car. Did yuou pee in my car? You’d better hope you didn’t.” The smell of the cop car, mixed with the smell of Scott’s liquid fear reaction sent my stress levels to the roof and the next thing I knew, I vomited across the backseat of the patrol car, sending a quantity of the foul brew down his collar. Murphy slammed on the brakes, causing Scott and I to fly off the seats and crumple to the car’s floor, coating ourselves with an odoriferous mixture of vomit and urine, which we smeared over everything we came in contact with. Trying to scramble back into the seat, we came in contact with much of the back seat area. The combined smell caused Scott to throw up and in a projectile way. This managed to involve much of the front seat of Murphy’s sedan paddy wagon.  The car stopped, Murphy yanked us both out and told us to go clean ourselves up at the shore of the brackish water pond where those of us in the neighborhood went crabbing. As he he tried to sop up the mess from the car with towels he carried in the truck for emergencies just like this, Scott and I looked at each other. Scott tossed his head towards the water and shrugged a question. With Murphy occupied, we waded into the water and took off swimming towards Butler’s Island and home.

We were most of the way across the pond when Murphy realized we’d skipped on him. He could see us, but he knew where we lived and he would simply come get us in a little  while. We emerged from the water and jogged to my house where we ducked inside and went up to my room. I loaned Scott some clothes and we both changed. Then we went to find my sister and explain what just happened. We thought she’d be mad, but she and her friends were tipsy from the drinking they’d been doing and found the story funny. Her boy friends took off and picked up my dad;s Volkswagen, still sitting parked where we’d ne stopped. They drove it back to the house uneventfully. We expected to see Murphy shortly, but he didn’t show up. Our parents got home at the expected time and found we kids asleep in our beds, looking angelic.

In the morning, Murphy was knocking at the door with his nightstick. When my dad answered the door, Murphy pushed into the house and began to spit accusations and demeaning words about the swine cretins my parents and the Kaufman’s had raised. My dad was annoyed, and I expected him to come down on me like a load of rocks. Instead he was angry at Murphy. He called my sister down and demanded to know what we’d all done the night before. He asked what time Scott and I left. My sister, not wanting to be found out for her own indiscretions, swore that we’d never left the house at all. In fact, we’d played Scrabble and then Monopoly, then watched television before going to bed at 11 o’clock. She said that a couple of boys had stopped by to visit but were sent away because no permission was asked or a party. She invited dad to call the boys and verify. He did that, and heard that they had stopped by around 9:30 or ten and that my sister said that they couldn’t stay without our parents permission. They said they had seen my sister and us and no one else. It was just the way it had been arranged the previous night.

“I’m afraid you’ve made a mistake, officer.”  said my dad curtly.

“Is that so?” asked Murphy. “Then why is your little German car parked on Tokeneke Road?”

My father looked startled and asked the cop to wait.  He went to the garage and looked in there, and parked where he left it was the little VW.  He returned to the living room to overhear Murphy explaining how we’d be in jail soon. “You owe my children an apology.” snapped my father. “I don’t know who you saw, but my cars are both in the garage, exactly as I parked them.” I suggest that you go find out the owner of the car and take up this so called transgression of the law with them. Oh, and I will be lodging a complaint against you at the next owners meeting. Accusing these poor kids. You should be ashamed.” Murphy tried to speak, but my father, and imposing and powerful man wasn’t having any of it. “I think it’s time you left, officer.” the way he pronounced the word officer invoked of dog poop stuck to the shoe. Defeated and knowing he stood no chance, he left quietly, but stared daggers at my sister and I all the way to the door.

My father went off do do chores and errands, leaving my sister and I alone in the living room. “This is going to cots you, ya know.” she said. I nodded.