Our family’s trip through the treacherous corn maze

Published 5:12pm Monday, October 31, 2011

It was a cool dark night and the family was bundled up beyond recognition.
We had stocking hats, gloves, jackets zipped up to our chins and flashlights.
No, we were not coming together as a family and robbing a store. We were doing something far more serious, and far more brave; embarking on a mission never before attempted by the Jakubowicz family.
We were attempting to go through Strawberry Hill’s corn maze … at night.
Excitement was at an all time high as I handed over my money. We received a flag attached to a long pipe to carry with us.
“In case you get lost, wave the flag in the air and our spotters can come get you,” said the chipper girl taking my money. “Return the flag when you’re done so that we know you made it out.”
If we make it out? If we get lost? What have I gotten myself into?
After all, I just drank a big cup of tea and may have to use the facilities here soon. This corn maze can’t last too long.
We entered with smiles on our faces, our visible breath coming out of our mouths and flashes from the camera as we snapped pictures to remember the night.
Flashlights came on, and we were cranked up to full Dollar General battery power. We approached the entrance and stared at the map of the maze posted in front of us. “Gee, that looks a little big, and confusing,” and, “wow, look at all those bends and dead ends.” “That’s ok, who cares,” we thought. “It’s only a maze.” Mommy and Daddy are smart and kids are excited.
Upon entering we chose to take a right over a left. Ok, looks good.
Turned out this would be the first good decision we make.
The first good decision we made for the next hour of cockamamy dead ends and looping turns. Step after glorious step, turn after turn, in hopes of moving through the perilous maze, we joked and had fun every bit of the way.
After a while, we realized a tremendous truth. We had gotten absolutely nowhere. One hour into it, and we hadn’t made it past the starting point. I was starting to feel the effects of the glass of tea from dinner.
We decided to humble ourselves and studied the map on the board a bit further.
We huddled together like a football team coming up with a game-winning hail mary. We make an alternate game plan and found a path that we “thought” has not been used. The giddiness had officially worn off. I pulled out a few pieces of candy for the kids to keep spirits up. I, in turn, was officially the best Daddy ever for having done this.
We started to smell blood as our plan of keeping to the right seemed to be working. The entrance was getting further away, and the corn was growing taller.
All of the sudden, the inevitable happened. A flashlight died and I came to the rescue with the flashlight in reserve that I had kept in my pocket. It pays to be a planner. It doesn’t pay to go to corn mazes in the dark with Dollar General batteries.
We crossed a bridge that signaled to us that we have actually gotten somewhere. We crossed the bridge very relieved and excited, thinking that we had started to crack the maze from Halloween Hell.
Upon descending from the bridge we were given a special gift; another posting of the map. Older and wiser, we all stopped to study the map in detail. Four flashlights shone on the map so we could make a game plan for our next level of adventure.
We came up with another “stay to the left” plan that we really thought was going to work. To be honest, my wife came up with the plan, I just went along with it. I was totally, utterly, and completely lost.
“Stick to the left,” we kept telling ourselves. The lights from the entrance grew stronger as did the music. The country music played over the loud speakers could well have been angels from heaven itself as we neared the finish line.
A few more turns and we were home free. Funny thing – no one was there waiting to cheer us on. One would think that for all of our turmoil, they would had a welcoming committee there to greet us, shake our hand, maybe even high five us. At least give us some hot cocoa or something. No, it was just the four of us, and the country music from heaven in the background.
We instead celebrated, just the four of us. The kids hailed Mommy as “genius” as I lagged behind with flag pole in hand, still wondering how she figured it out. We turned off our flashlights, turned in our flag, and, of course, made plans to do it again next year.
Chris Jakubowicz lives in Tryon with his wife and children. His bi-weekly column will focus on how he and his family are trying to get back to their grassroots. Jakubowicz can be reached by email at cjak32@gmail.com.

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