This time of year is always difficult for Bo Horvat.
A return to Chicago doesn’t make it any easier.
Horvat doesn’t like to talk about it. The events of those torturous few days still keep him up at night; time isn’t healing the trauma suffered many years ago.
He was eight-years-old when it went down. It was late December and the Horvat family was preparing for a Christmas vacation abroad. His aunt and uncle were coming, as were his cousins. Good times lie ahead.
At the time the family lived in the Chicago suburb of Winnetka, Illinois, and if you’ve ever been to the Chicago suburb of Winnetka, Illinois, in late December, you know it can get cold. And windy. And snowy.
And it did that faithful night long ago.
Severe weather knocked out power lines in the neighbourhood, which reset clocks in the Horvat home and caused panic the next morning.
Horvat’s cousin Heather was assigned to do a headcount to ensure all the kids were accounted for prior to shuttling to the airport, and they were, she counted 11.
“I blame Mitch Murphy,” said Horvat, solemnly. “If that snoopy kid from across the street hadn’t been in the van snapping photos and playing with my cousin’s Walkman and yo-yo, they would have noticed I was missing.”
Horvat said he and Murphy were of the same build and had similar tuques, adding to the confusion.
Because of a confrontation with his brother the night before, Horvat slept in the heavily insolated attic leaving him oblivious to the chaos below that morning. When he awoke, the house was empty.
“I thought it was a joke,” said Horvat. “I was a little scared at first, but then I realized there was no one to telling me what to do – for an eight-year-old, that’s a lot of freedom.”
Freedom he made the most of.
Horvat messed with his brother’s stuff, tobogganed in the house and went shopping for a toothbrush, milk, eggs and fabric softener. He ate junk food and watched rubbish, shot his bb gun in the house, tested out aftershave and ordered a lovely cheese pizza, just for him.
“It was glorious. Christmas definitely came early that year.”
That changed in a real hurry.
Unbeknownst to Horvat, two wanted criminals had been patrolling the area, breaking into homes along Lincoln Avenue lifting top-flight goods like stereos, VCRs and some very fine jewelry.
The silver tuna, as the burglars dubbed the Horvat household at 671 Lincoln Avenue, was their main target and seeing as how the family was abroad, it was easy pickings. Crowbars up, so to say.
“This is my house, I have to defend it,” Horvat thought, after catching wind of the forthcoming B&E.
Horvat did the unimaginable transforming his redbrick, five bedroom, 4,243 square foot, 1920s center entrance Georgian family home into a temple of doom for would-be intruders.
His methods were over the top, he later admitted, but effective. He rigged booby-traps along every door and window to the home, including placing ornaments under windows and heating a doorknob with an electric charcoal lighter for a BBQ.
“It was a little unconventional,” laughed Horvat, reminiscing. “I think chucking paint cans on ropes was my favourite, but feathers to the face was great too. Blowtorch to the head was the most effective and pretty simple to set up.”
The savage home intrusion lasted roughly 20 minutes thanks to Horvat’s quick thinking and sheer bravery; he saved his home from the greedy paws of the Wet Bandits, who were too dimwitted to go toe-to-toe with Bo.
His family returned the following morning and although they were forced to stay in a hotel because a tarantula was on the loose in the house, they were together to celebrate Christmas.
“I grew up fast over those days alone,” admits Horvat. “It helped make me the man I am today…but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else!”
If you made it this far and haven’t realized you just read the plot of Home Alone, which in no way ever involved Bo Horvat, I am a genius and I win the Nobel Prize of blogging about Home Alone, the best Christmas movie ever.
Thanks for reading, you filthy animals!