Chapter 3a: Real Police Use Real Gear -- Handcuffs
My cousin Chance decided that he loves cops, police work, police equipment, etc. We started playing cops and robbers on a regular basis (not every time I was at his house or that he came to my house, but three or four times per month wouldn't be a bad guess. That's not counting however many games he played with his brother Tyler or other friends when I wasn't around.) I guess it was just a matter of time before Chance began collecting police gear.
I don't know if it's like this in other countries, but we have flea markets where people get together to sell a variety of stuff, but certain things are always there: tools, old coins, clothes . . . And there's always somebody selling knives, swords, and usually police gear like handcuffs. Chance and his dad (my uncle Bill) go sometimes for other things, but one day Chance (about age 12?) was at the booth looking over the police gear, telling his dad,"I gotta get some handcuffs like that. That would be great for cops and robbers."
Uncle Bill didn't think that was a good idea. "That's a little too dangerous for you to mess around with. If you and your friends lose the key, you'll be in a real mess." Chance kept trying, but dad had ruled. He settled for buying a cheap pair of handcuffs at a toy store, one that has the emergency release on the sides so you can get out without the key.
For me and Tyler, that made the game more interesting. We definitely thought that Chance's police stuff was cool, so handcuffs were a great addition to cops and robbers. Of course, we were around seven years old, which means I was a huge cheater! It didn't take long at all to figure out the switch, and then escape when no one was looking, or even escape while still being led by a captor (just to immediately get tackled again)! Eventually, I wanted to "play right" and pretend I couldn't escape. Tyler was a bigger cheat than me, though; he got out at every opportunity!
I'd love to tell you a lot of stories of fun cops and robbers games with that set of handcuffs. Unfortunately, you get what you pay for. After a couple of months, they broke! Chance was apparently doing some kind of test to see how strong they were; the chain popped off of the base of the cuff. Sure, that was disappointing, but he soon bought another pair just like them. Believe it or not, after a couple of months or so, they JAMMED! Stuck in the locked position! Luckily, not while someone was wearing them!
So, honestly, Chance had bad luck with buying cheap toy handcuffs. After using them, I actually hated playing without them; it added to the realism so well. But if we didn't have two broken pairs, what followed a few days after may never have happened....
Chapter 3b: Real Police Gear -- Handcuffs That Don't Suck
I was 8 (?). I loved spending time at my cousins' house any chance I got. We went to the same church (Uncle Bill is the pastor), so every 2 or 3 weeks we'd convince our parents to let me go to their house on Sunday afternoon instead of going home, and my parents would get me at church that night. My aunt and uncle would take us out to eat, then to their house. Tyler and Chance changed out of their dress clothes. It usually wasn't planned, and I didn't bring clothes, but Tyler and I were very close in age and size; we borrowed each other's clothes a lot. Most of the time Tyler and I just put on gym shorts, no shirts or shoes, ready to run around the house or yard . . .
. . . or, like this particular day, run down to the living room, sit in front of the tv, and play video games. (Sometimes we were more active, but sometimes just pure lazy.). Chance played too sometimes, but not today, "I'm waiting for Jason to come over," he said, referring to his best friend. Jason got there a few minutes later, and they went outside; we just kept on with the video game.
After a while, they came back in, and Chance asked Tyler, "Where's the rope we use to tie people's feet up in cops and robbers?" I glanced over and saw Jason holding one of the ropes we used for "handcuffs" in the game. Tyler never looked up; he just answered, "I think it's on the closet floor in my room." Chance and Jason went upstairs.
About a minute later, they were back. Chance said, "Want to see our dungeon?"
I didn't take my eyes off the screen (you just don't stop in the middle of a game!), but that still sounded like one of the coolest things ever to an eight-year-old. Tyler and I both said, "Yeah!"
Tyler had just lost his last life in the game, so he got up to talk with them, and I kept playing. "You made a dungeon?"
"Yeah, it's pretty cool, but the only way you get to see it is if you're our prisoner." They held up the ropes, like a question, asking us how bad we wanted to see it.
"No, come on, I want to see it first."
"Nope, you get to experience it, then you'll know what our dungeon's like."
My eyes were still fixed on the screen, but I spoke up, "I want to see it, too."
Jason said, "You can only lock up one prisoner at a time. So keep playing your game if Tyler wants to go first." Fine with me.
Tyler huffed, "I just want to see it, you can even put me in, but don't tie me up for it, just show me."
Chance didn't give a bit. "Tough, prisoner or nothing."
Tyler didn't say another word, and curiosity won out. He just turned around and put his hands behind him, ready to be tied.
Chance said, "Awesome. Don't worry, you'll like it. You won't escape, either." He just had to say that. They always know what piques a kid's interest. I came so close to actually pausing the game!
I was only watching out of the corner of my eye, but Jason tied Tyler's hands behind him, and Chance tied the rope on his feet. That "foot rope" was a little thicker than the rope we used on hands, and just the right length. You could wrap each end a couple of times around an ankle, tie it off, and have several inches in between. Just like legcuffs police use, it's perfect for a prisoner that needs to walk, but they can't break away suddenly and run.
Chance said, "And you gotta be blindfolded." I didn't notice until then that he had one of his t-shirts in hand. Rolled up, a t-shirt makes a great blindfold.
"Aw, come on!" Tyler backed away and sat on the couch.
"No blindfold, no dungeon." Tyler was ok with being tied in cops and robbers, but more nervous about blindfolds. "I promise it's safe. I just don't want you to see the secret until you're safely locked up." Tyler gave in and stood up; Chance wrapped the t-shirt around his eyes and tied it behind his head.
Chance held Tyler's arm and walked him toward the door. Going out, he said, "Stay here and don't peek; it'll be your turn in a few minutes." More anticipation, yay!
I really was engrossed in the game. I didn't bother looking out the window to see where they were going. But after a few minutes, I lost my last life, and turned the game off. At that point, peeking seemed like a great idea. But I was too late; out the window, I saw Chance and Jason walking toward the house, carrying the ropes, but no Tyler. Now the curiosity was really starting to kill me! I had about a minute before they came in, so I made a quick trip to the bathroom. There was no way they would ever fall for the let-me-out-I-gotta-pee trick, even if it wasn't a trick!
They were in the living room when I came out. No questions this time; they shoved me (not seriously) into the wall front first, and pulled my hands behind me and started tying. "Ok, I said I wanted to go!"
"I know, just making sure you don't back out," said Jason.
My hands were back to back, and the rope was just wrapped around several times, then a couple of times around the middle to cinch it. They do that in cops and robbers when arresting someone, cause it can be untied quickly when you get to "jail." They put more knots in and wrap it a different way if they're trying to keep somebody tied a long time.
I got the same treatment as Tyler with the leg rope and the shirt as a blindfold. "March," said Chance, leading me to the door. There was enough slack in the leg rope so walking wasn't a problem, except there are steps from their back porch (more like a deck) to the ground, so I had to take them one at a time.
I could still tell where we were going, though. I was being led behind the garage. (Uncle Bill had a big garage or shop not connected to the house, a little ways further down the driveway.). We walked to the back side of the building and stopped. Chance was talking to Jason: "We can let him out now." But Chance was still holding on to my arm. I could hear Jason walk a few steps and do something; he was letting Tyler out, not me.
I really had to know what was going on. "Tyler, what did they do?"
Chance said, "We made him promise not to say anything. You gotta find out the same way he did." Dang, more waiting. Jason walked back over to us. "Ok, turn around, and back up slowly." They each had an arm and guided me so my back was against the wall of the garage.
Then the rope around my hands started coming off. They each took a hand, pulled it up and out to the sides, and at the same time I felt a handcuff close around each each wrist. "Two sets of handcuffs? That's so cool!"
I knew right where I was now. The back side of the garage has a couple of windows with security bars on them (looked kind of like a jail window!). I was standing between the windows, and they were close enough together that I could be cuffed with one hand to each, not stretched out too far, a little above shoulder height. Feet still tied, too. It really was a lot like a dungeon, like those pictures with chains hanging on the walls (except I wasn't hanging off the ground!).
That was fun; an authentic (in my childish mind) dungeon! "Ok, how long do I have to stay?" Tyler was locked up ten to fifteen minutes, so I was betting my stay would be just as long.
Nobody said anything right away. Then Jason said, "Try to get out."
There was plenty of slack for me to reach up with one hand to the cuff attached to the nearest bar. I felt the cuff, and tried to press the release switch. I kind of got a lump in my throat when I didn't feel a switch at all! I said, "These are REAL handcuffs?!" I rarely cuss, but in my head I was saying, "O f----!" Not that I was scared; I knew nobody would hurt me or leave me forever. It was more excitement than anything.
"Yep, you're not getting out of those." That of course just made me struggle more. But clearly there was no way to slip out. And clearly there was no switch. So he was absolutely right: no way out.
"Let me see them." I still had the blindfold on, and my hands were far enough way I couldn't touch it at all. And my shoulders were stretched enough that I couldn't shrug it off either. They got quiet. They were still there, but didn't answer. "Come on, let me see."
"Can't do nothing about it, can you?" Finally, Tyler said something. I could "hear" him smiling about it. I'm sure it was very satisfying seeing me get the same treatment that he did.
I just hung there for a while; I gave up on moving around because I knew it was useless. After a minute or two, Chance removed the blindfold. Crap, the sun was bright after that. It took another minute of squinting before I could really see anything. I stared at my hands and at the cuffs, just examining, wondering how they worked. Even though I was prisoner, I thought the handcuffs were very cool, and I would want to play cops and robbers with them. But I knew I'd have to finish my fifteen minutes or so before I could get a closer look at them.
"I'm going inside," Tyler said, starting to walk away. I don't blame him; he was stuck there a long while, and that spot is halfway in the shade but half sun, and it was hot.
Chance said, "Yeah, we'll be back in a little bit."
"No, don't leave me!" Again, I knew I was safe, but just a little scared that time.
"You're fine, and it's only fair, we left Tyler a couple of minutes." They walked off, leaving me to stand there unable to move much at all. I was alone with my thoughts. Today, I've learned to really enjoy those moments of quiet while tied up, but it was a little harder back then. Not so bad that I complained, though. A part of me still WANTED it, wanted to be a part of the game, even as a prisoner.
I wish I could remember all of the many thoughts I had while chained up alone in the dungeon. It kinda wears you out standing in one place with your arms up a long time (and it wasn't really that long, not like real dungeon torture). I was released, and we all went inside to cool off.
Sitting in the living room, Tyler and I got to look at the cuffs up close and play with them, learning how to use the key, the double lock, etc. Both pairs were Smith and Wesson 100. Chance had a black pair, and Jason had silver. But didn't Uncle Bill say handcuffs were "too dangerous"?
It turns out, getting real cuffs was Uncle Bill's idea! Chance had taken the jammed toy cuffs to him and asked if he could fix them. They were beyond repair. Seeing how easily the toys could break or jam, and how someone could literally get stuck in them, he said, "You know, if you really want to play cops like this, I think you need some higher quality handcuffs. That sounds LESS dangerous, as long as you and your friends can always keep the keys safe and not do anything dangerous with them." Saturday, the day before the dungeon story, Uncle Bill took Chance to a flea market, and Jason got to tag along. Bill bought the handcuffs for Chance, and Jason bought his own pair. Cops and robbers was never the same