By Ralph Hood
Should I tell this half-century-old story? I still feel a bit sheepish about it.
Daddy was the school superintendent with his office in our high school. I hung around that building a lot in my younger days. I knew where the ladders were to the attic. Before I got out of grammar school, I knew every inch of that attic.
One of my attic discoveries was a huge ventilation fan that opened up in the wall high over the backstage area of the auditorium. One could, if one was so inclined, lie in the large, open duct of that fan and see everything on the stage. (One could also, of course, fall to one’s death onto the stage.)
Such a discovery was too important to contain, and I quickly shared my secret with several friends. The high-school juniors and seniors had a big show scheduled—the Junior Follies—and we decided to see that show.
Come the big night, four of us sneaked into a storeroom on the second floor, climbed up through an open trapdoor in the ceiling, crawled into the fan duct, poked our heads over the edge and proceeded to enjoy the show from our own private balcony. Nobody ever had a better view. Two memorable events took place that night.
1) The huge fan behind us turned on. We were certain that God was punishing us for our sins. We would be sucked into that huge fan and chopped into tiny pieces. We died a thousand deaths during those few moments, then discovered that the fan only made our perch more comfortable.
2) The second event? Ah, do I dare tell?
During the show, we noticed that the light was on in that storeroom, shining up through that open trapdoor. Had we been caught? Silently we crawled over to that trapdoor and peeked down into the storeroom. To this day, I don’t think that I have ever seen anything quite so exciting.
In that storeroom were the clothes of some of the girls in the show! We became instantly aware that while we were watching the stage, girls—beautiful, high-school girls—had been using that storeroom to change into their stage clothes. Almost as instantly, we grasped that they would most likely return to change back into their street clothes!
I cannot begin to describe the impact of this discovery upon our young minds. These were high-school girls. We were preteen boys. They were going to change clothes in that room. We could see into that room. They would not know we were there. Never in the history of mankind have four boys awaited anything with such eager anticipation. We could hardly breathe.
This story has two possible endings. Either (1) the girls did return and change before our avid eyes, or (2) they came back, grabbed their clothes and rushed off to change elsewhere. Which version is true? You decide. I’m not about to tell.