I wonder, what was the allure? Counting, hiding, finding. Hide and seek is one of those games that almost every child has played. We teach it to our youngest in the form of "Peek-a-boo", training them for when their little legs can carry them to the far off corners of the house in an attempt to not be found.
Whenever I visited my cousins during my childhood we played together, but they always knew the best places to hide because it was their house. I hated being "it", counting with my eyes closed and knowing everyone would be gone when I opened them. But there was some measure of curiousity that drove me, wondering where everyone would be and searching everywhere I could think of. And sometimes I'd get side tracked as I explored a new closet or secret corner. One time I found a toy bow and arrow, which I started to play with--and then accidentally broke. Of course, everyone was hiding, so who would know?
The odd thing about hide and seek, was that no one really wanted to be too good at it. Did you ever find a hiding spot that was just so amazing that no one could find you... ever? After singing all your favorite songs in your head several times over and counting how many seconds you could hold your breath before your vision got blurry, the whole affair lost its appeal.
But we kept playing anyway. We still play as adults, constructing walls and veiling emotions. Alter egos and character sketches carefully designed for every situation and every need for escaping discovery. We've gotten better at it, learning to distract and divert attention, letting the obvious hide the important. Why do it?
When I was very young, I took up the tradition of hiding when my dad came home. Every evening, the sound of the lock turning triggered a mad dash for concealment. We lived in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn at the time, so hiding spots were slim, and with my dad only seconds from being inside, I always ended up in the same spot: under my parents' comforter. I'd try to scrunch my body up to look like folds in the blanket, and sometimes my dad would pretend he didn't know where I was. But then he found me--he always found me--and that was the part I loved. I loved the moment when he peeled back the blankets and I could jump into his arms.
So what's the allure? Why play the game, even when we are long past the age of sneaking into closets and crouching under tables? Maybe it's because we all just want people to be curious enough to look, because it's so much more meaningful when care is taken to discover a secret.
And maybe, we all just want to be found.