When I was a girl, I loved nothing better than to lose myself in words. I would read anything--magazines, newspapers, cereal boxes. I'd like to say that I kept myself busy reading Shakespeare and Jane Austen. But the truth is that my favorite things to read were girls' mystery books.
Oh! Nancy Drew! That titian-haired 16-year-old, with her loyal friends Bess and George, and her blue convertible! I would go anywhere with Nancy. And Trixie Belden! I loved Trixie. I pictured myself as a member of the Bob-Whites of the Glen. I wanted to hang out with Honey and Jim and the others. And Cherry Ames! Oh, my goodness--a beautiful girl who trains to be a nurse and solves mysteries along the way? Does it get any better than that? I could see myself in my white uniform and cap, chumming with Ann and Gwen, solving mysteries left and right. I positively reveled in the stories of friendship and mystery-solving.
I'm guessing that these early heroines of mine are the reason that I spring into action immediately any time there's a mystery in my house.
Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I picked up our 16-year-old son from school. He'd been away for several days on a trip to a robotics tournament. We helped him carry in his bags and stood in the kitchen, listening to his stories and imagining the fun of his adventures. But then my ears picked up a strange sound. "Do you hear that?" I queried my husband.
At first no one else caught the mysterious noise, but I was certain I was hearing something. It sounded like an electric motor, straining and about to die. "Listen," I said. "Be quiet. Listen. Do you hear it?" The guys were now on board. The sound was faint, but distinct.
The others said, "What could that be?" I, on the other hand, began my quest to solve the mystery. Into the laundry room: nothing amiss there. Outside to the air conditioning unit: no. Upstairs to the bonus room: nothing. Down to the basement: no problems. Into the crawl space: nope. Up, up, up to the attic: nada.
Finally, back to the kitchen, where I could still hear the noise. The problem was in the kitchen; I was sure of it. I had ruled out all other possibilities. But what on earth? I stood in various places throughout the room and discovered that it was definitely more audible in one corner. The corner close to the refrigerator. Oh, no. I groaned inwardly at the prospect of emptying the refrigerator and paying a steep bill from the appliance repairman. But it wasn't the refrigerator, either.
At this point my heart had begun to beat faster and my mind was racing. Something was wrong somewhere, but I couldn't figure it out. What could it be?
And then my 16-year -old grabbed his suitcase, unzipped it hurriedly, and yanked out his shaving kit. "My electric toothbrush!" he announced triumphantly.
Sure enough, the toothbrush had been knocked into the "On" position and was whirling like crazy. My son pushed the power button and all was quiet. Mystery solved.
Well. Every girl detective gets help from her assistants, you know.
Now I'm curious (of course): did anyone else live vicariously through these books? Were you a girl detective in your dreams? Please tell me!