Years before a handheld, one-bit Space Invaders game found its way into my possession, the most amazing piece of mobile technology my tiny brain could imagine was a walkie talkie.
I suppose I was about six when I got a pair of them. They were grey with an orange tip on the antennae, and the entire Morse Code alphabet was printed on the front. My sister and I beeped messages to each other constantly . . . until we were kicked outside, where (joy of joys) we discovered that OUR walkie talkies worked with all our FRIENDS' walkie talkies.
We quickly set about creating a communications network. It wasn't overly sophisticated, but it kept the neighborhood informed when someone sneakily won "kick the can."
One afternoon, as a group of us gathered by the swings to plan our next game, there was a sudden crackling on our handsets. Then a very stern, authoritative voice broke through:
"THIS IS THE NATIONAL GUARD."
"YOU ARE ON A RESTRICTED CHANNEL."
Our eyes grew wide.
"STOP BROADCASTING IMMEDIATELY, OR WE WILL NOTIFY THE POLICE."
We were frozen in terror. Nobody had the guts to reply, but we all clearly saw that our futures included prison bars.
And then I happened to see something else. Across the backyard, my father's eyes peering over the windowsill, alongside the orange tip of an antenna.
So many things happened in the sandbox in that moment -- relief, outrage, maybe a little bit of pee -- but looking back, I feel like we all should have applauded. Because he saw his chance, and he took it. And he got us good.
Well played, sir. Well played.