Girls Night Out: Panic Not Pedis
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A friend of mine is moving across the country and to celebrate her, I thought we’d probably go out for drinks and dinner. The standard, send-off fare, right? But no, another friend of mine — one who is fond of “experiences” like jumping out of airplanes or deep-sea diving with sharks — made plans for us to participate in a “live escape game,” at a place called the PanIQ Room. For those of you not familiar with it, here is what a “live escape game” according to the semi-sadists who designed this one: “You are locked in a thematic environment for an hour where your primal survival and problem solving instincts are fully utilized. You need to work in teams and use all your senses: Keep your eyes on every detail in the environment, searching for hints that will allow you to accomplish the mission and escape from the room!” It hardly sounds like the typical gals-night-out, but I was game. After all, as the mother of two kids, age five and two, I often feel trapped in a panic room, negotiating with one to eat her broccoli and the other to brush her hair, and as I write, almost every room I inhabit has the potential for panic, provided I am left alone in it to work. Problems that can actually be solved in an hour? Bring it. So the six of us swinging ladies showed up — all in heels — to get locked in a scenario called “the Bunker” for an hour. Before our host shut the door and locked us in, he gave us a Walkie Talkie that we could use to communicate with him in case of an emergency — like someone needing to pee. He was quick to point out the device’s capacity as a flashlight as well, which led all of us to believe that darkness would soon further complicate the game. There were two locks we had to get through on the door and we stumbled around, searching for clues and keys and combinations. We found them — rather quickly, and made it through the door with 45 minutes to spare. Except that, of course, that door opened into another locked room, with a whole host of puzzles to solve, ciphers to decode, and dusty drawers to riffle through. Solving one problem always led to the next, keeping the stress over the fake stakes high, which with the added pressure of time and thinking the lights were going out at any second, provided a pretty good adrenaline rush. There were as many high fives in our dirty bomb bunker as courtside at the Staples Center. Finally, we busted out of the main bunker and into the final room, a torture chamber (of course). It was hard to find somewhere to put down my beaded clutch, but we got down to business, climbing pipes and crawling around the wall, and almost solved the whole thing (black-light clues!), but time ran out just as we were in the final stage. When our host — who, did I mention, creepily watches you the entire time — came to let us out, he chided us for not asking him for help. “Most people ask a few times,” he said. It had never occurred to any of us because, come on, what woman has a Walkie Talkie in real life?