Dear Susan,

Lewin’s Escape Rooms would like to congratulate your group on escaping from our Mad Scientist’s Lab in 58 minutes and 27 seconds. We’re sure you’ve already posted your “We escaped” photos to Snapchat to make all the friends who aren’t quite close enough to you to be a part of your team jealous.

But we’re more than just an escape room. While you were freeing yourselves from the nefarious Dr. McMonstrous, we couldn’t help evaluating you. We normally keep our thoughts to ourselves, but as a special birthday present, we’d like to share our observations. You’re 16, and there’s a lot you haven’t figured out yet. We can help.

Take Julie. Lots of people in your group said lots of things, but nobody actually did anything until Julie said it was okay. You’re all afraid of her, so you pretend she has leadership skills.


She had your team search the “brickwork”—which is painted fabric that doesn’t even attach to the drywall—for “secret doors” before she let anyone read the instructions on the table in the middle of the room.

And yes, when Lisa got bored and snuck a peek at the cobwebs, Julie told everyone about Lisa’s crush on your dandruffy history teacher. Don’t let that scare you. All teenagers have embarrassing hormonal yearnings, and you shouldn’t live in fear that Julie will expose them. Instead, just stop spending time with her.

Farrah was full of ideas about how to solve puzzles. We know because she kept shouting, “Wait! I have an idea!” Then, after everyone ignored her, she’d shout, “I have an idea, does anyone even care?” Communication and listening skills are the bedrock of most friendships, but in this case, you were right to ignore her. She’d get lost driving a train.

The reason Farrah says so little, so constantly, is that she’s desperate to feel like she exists. Find ways to show her what she means, like not laughing when she tells you how incredible Papa John’s is or waiting a full minute before cutting her off when she drones about her lust for Phoenix Suns point guard Élie Okobo. And don’t be too resentful in five years when she makes her first million vlogging about “self-actualization,” even though she never uses the term correctly.

Ricky and Carrie loved pointing the blacklight at everything. Can we have their numbers? We’re solid with our dealer, but we like to have backups. We’ll share ours too—your supply will dry up once Ricky realizes Carrie wants to fuck Julie, not him.

Zach doesn’t belong in your group. You guys are rich and popular and stupid, and he’s not and not and only sort of. Yes, you can order him to lick the floor and he’ll do it because it’s still the least outcast he’s felt since he was in the womb, but that’s not friendship. Ending it would be a kindness. He might make it in a call center or as an E-3 in the Air Force, and your group is holding him back.

Please teach Tyler the difference between escape room designers and Illuminati. The freckles on his arm are not part of a map, his eye color won’t tell how to turn off the Jacob’s Ladder, and we haven’t coded any locks based on your team’s birthdays. Conspiracy theories are fun, but he’s about two podcasts from bombing an imaginary sex trafficking cult in your school’s cafeteria.

On a more cheerful note, there’s Brenda. So enthusiastic. So positive. And so insistent about it. She’s like sentient Instagram. How do you stand her? Tyler likes her boobs, but the rest of you have no excuse.

And finally, Susan, there’s you. Your enthusiasm was… piercing. We don’t know how you managed to shriek “We’ve only got ten minutes left! HURRY UUUUUUP!” for an hour solid without developing throat polyps, but you managed. You could be a cheerleader, as long as you don’t run on field and start shaking the quarterback as he’s passing. (Like you did with Lisa when she was balancing the skeleton bones, causing Lisa to drop them, Julie to say Lisa’s fingers are as fat as Tyler’s dick, and Tyler’s dick to shrivel.)

You’re the most annoying person who’s ever come through our escape room.

We commend you, though, because you were the single most important factor in your team’s escape. With only five minutes left and six clues to solve, you had the wherewithal to have a father who slipped us $500 to “Make sure your birthday was a good one.” That simple act unlocked the final door and ensured your success.

That strategy will apply to any situation you face in life. In other words: Whatever happens, you’re going to be just fine.