How to execute the silent treatment

When you’re Very Masculine like myself, you must work hard with fitness, often using a Bowflex or even a ThighMaster in between reps of stirring giant glasses of chocolate milk and cursing your wife for eating all the cheese.

Because of my schedule, the only time I’m able to go to the gym is obscenely early in the mornings before my children and other bleating livestock awake from their slumber. Physically getting out of the house in the morning without waking anyone else up is always an adventure. Frankly, it’s is a lot like being a criminal attempting to break into a highly-guarded museum or that one movie where someone (Jesus?) is dangling Tom Cruise over a computer. One wrong move and alarms sound, plans are foiled and someone gets to punch Tom Cruise.

Booby traps in the form of discarded toys guard each path, threatening to shout loud, manic greetings if disturbed because nobody turns them off ever. Every day the museum is set up differently. New traps line the hallways, eager to be the one to alert security.

The youngest ceild is the alarm. The older one is the night watchman. Together they are the Plan Ruiners. I’ve had to become part ninja, part Navy SEAL, part antelope and part thing that can dress and walk around half-asleep. Below is my step-by-step guide for making it out that’s more convoluted than an Ocean’s 11 heist plan.

Step 1: Turn off alarm immediately after it sounds. Better yet, just don’t go to sleep the night before and stare at the alarm clock without blinking until your eyes go dry and tears flood down your cheeks (probably burns calories). The slightest sound could awaken the natives. A better idea is to set the alarm on your phone to “vibrate” and duct tape it to your thigh. This may cause loss of circulation to limb, but trade-off is worth it to minimize sound.

Step 2: Inch out of bed, placing hands on mattress and pushing down to minimize weight distribution to avoid potentially awaking She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Woken. Look at closed door and consider tying sheets together and going out window like a prisoner attempting escape. Disregard due to having to disturb slumbering cellmate who would shank me with words if sheets were confiscated.

Step 3: Attempt to put gym clothes on in pitch black, successfully putting everything on backwards. Don’t notice until at the gym. Also notice that gym shorts are actually boxers or, once, swim trunks.

Step 4: Open door to bedroom slowly, cursing any squeaking, then curse for making whisper-curse that could be heard by 3-year-old with super-hearing. Grasp doorknob on other side of the door and slowly close with the realization you could probably have a great career as a burglar if you didn’t hate going over to other people’s houses so much.

Step 5: Pause outside door with senses heightened like that of a wounded gazelle. Stop breathing. Forever.

Step 6: Due to darkness, get down on all fours and feel around hallway for potential booby trap toys. Pad to bathroom like a panther.

Step 7: Creep into bathroom, shutting door halfway and slithering arm out like Mr. Fantastic to the wall to feel for light switch, stupidly located OUTSIDE the bathroom, which was put there by some drunk contractor. Turn on light and quickly pull arm back inside and silently shut door before light can be seen under daughter’s door. Imagine daughter camped out behind bedroom door like the cymbal-banging monkey in Toy Story 3 waiting for any sign of life.

Step 8: Consider doing “bathroom business” but decide against it. Resulting stream could exceed minimum decibel levels and could be heard by cymbal-banging monkey daughter, even if muffled by aiming against the side of the bowl. This technique causes “collateral damage” anyway, which enrages She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Woken. Hold it and realize bladder must be the size of a canteen.

Step 9: Choke down several “flavorless” supplement powders that somehow have the taste and texture of wet gravel. It’s like licking chalk of an old lizard’s foot. Notice these never do any good, but continue to ingest them anyway like some big dummy. The only thing they “supplement” is the pocketbooks of the brands that produce them. Look in the mirror and silently curse you’re not a 210-pound monstrous ragemonkey yet.

Step 10: Attempt to break banana from bunch, stopping because this is too loud. Take entire bunch and stuff into front of swimsuit. Navigate secondary doors/hungry guard cat. Silence guard cat with treats so he doesn’t alert others. Slowly open door, forgetting door squeaks like laboring mouse. Make face like you’re about to be hit with a hammer. So close to victory now. Hear child door opening.

Step 11: Curse. Run out of house, get in car and speed away before She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Woken can give orders.

Step 12: Park at gym. Fall asleep due to energy expended escaping house.

Step 13: Drive home. Look at dark, quiet house. Cry because I need to get back in and pee.


Kelly Van De Walle can be reached at