By Diana Powers


I don’t often get much out of my 20-year-old-son, who spends most of the year at New York University. Over the phone from New York, he’ll rarely call, except to request more money or to pay some bill. When he’s home for the summer, he’s in his own world and either on the Internet or on the phone, watching TV, or all three at once. Apparently, I’m too old to be interesting enough for communication otherwise, unless, of course, he’s hungry, thirsty, broke, or all three.

So, the other day, on summer vacation, when my son began with, “Did you know that. . .?,” I was wild with anticipation, my ears flapping. Whatever he was going to say was of immediate interest to me. I also figured I knew the answer since I AM old. However, this time he utterly surprised me. I had no idea what all this was leading up to.

“Did you know that there are three ways you can escape from handcuffs?” he blithely asked. “No,” I choked. Before I had time to say, “Tell me,” he, in fact, had.

“First one,” he says, “is not to let the handcuffs close all the way around your wrist. Instead, when you are being handcuffed, you push your arm towards the person cuffing you so that you will have extra room to wriggle out when you slide them down.”

“Secondly,” he says, “is to use a paper clip and place it in between the silver teeth and the black locking mechanism of the cuffs. Push it in, they unlock, and you are set free.”

“And third,” he instructs, “most handcuffs take the same key, so you can just hide a key on you, and if you don’t have one or have lost it, you can just go to a gun shop and buy one.”

This may answer a number of questions I had never anticipated asking. However, now that my son has illuminated me on the various tricks of escaping from handcuffs, I have a lot more questions I’m not exactly sure I should, could, or would ask. And, furthermore, do I really want to know the answers?

However, beyond those questions, I have a problem with each of his three ways. First of all, if I was handcuffed, what handcuffer is going to let me decide how far I can push my arms out and how loose I can have my cuffs?

As for the second way, who carries around paper clips, and, if he does, how easy is it for him to get those teeny clips out of his tight back jean pocket while wearing handcuffs?

And, lastly, we come to the third suggestion. I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually carry around a handcuff key. That’s not to say I couldn’t start; but the more likely situation is that I don’t have one and I am handcuffed. Now I should go to the nearest gun shop? Where is the nearest gun shop, and how would I get there, other than walking, since I am handcuffed? Maybe I should ask my handcuffer; he’s probably just come from the nearest gun shop.

For now, I am questioning just what they are teaching my son at his fancy Eastern school. As for me, tomorrow morning I plan on going to the nearest gun shop to purchase a handcuff key, to put right alongside my paperclip that I’ll always carry in my back pocket, in the event that I am ever handcuffed.

Isn’t it amazing what you can learn from a 20-year-old?