Growing up with pranksters: Every Halloween has me looking over my shoulder fora whole 'nother reason
When it came to pulling pranks, my parents were without prejudice. They pulled them on family, friends, each other, sometimes even strangers—and they took no prisoners. God, they were fun.
My father’s pranks were timely and usually included plastics. When my Aunt Lilian Cole reupholstered her favorite wing back chair, my father saw opportunity and jumped on it.
Lilian was so pleased and proud of this chair that she invited my parents over for a viewing along with us four kids. We all went into the living room and gathered around it, admiring the white damask fabric. While the adults poured cocktails, my siblings and I ran off to play with our cousins and their beloved collie, “Spike.”
Martha, much to her credit, eventually laughed, too. She later made a promise, though, that still causes me to be on the look-out around every Halloween. “I’ll get you back,” she swore, smiling like the Cheshire cat.
Later that evening as everyone stood at the front door to leave, I saw my father lingering in the living room. I watched with fascination as he then pulled from his pocket a small pool of plastic regurgitation. Carefully, he placed it down on the seat of the chair, and we scurried out the door.
Apparently, the gummy goo wasn’t discovered until early the next morning. Lilian Cole called our house asking to speak to “that rascal,” my father. She told him that when she realized the stuff was plastic, the real culprit immediately became clear to her. Sadly though, that came only after she had fussed at Spike.
A prank with ingenuity
My mother, on the other hand, used ingenuity when pulling a prank. This made them more delightful. One that was especially imaginative involved her best friend, Gloria, and her husband, Ted.
To celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary, Gloria and Ted threw a dinner party. It was a black-tie affair held in their home, with 30 people attending. As an anniversary gift, my mother brought the cake, tubular in shape and smothered in chocolate icing. As she carried the cake into Gloria’s kitchen, she made one suggestion.
“This is a jelly roll cake,” she explained to Gloria, “so when you cut it, you really need a sharp knife.”
Later that evening, with champagne flowing, Gloria commenced to make the first slice, holding a knife as long as the cake and with no clue that what was really before her was a balloon filled with water. The water balloon, Mama explained, didn’t burst. It exploded.
Luckily, all were good sports, especially Gloria, who stood in a black chiffon dress splattered with chocolate icing and laughed uncontrollably.
Prankster-hood into adult life
Growing up in a family like this, nearly every day was like Candid Camera. No big surprise, then, that I would carry prankster-hood into my adult life.
I have pulled many a prank, but the one that still makes me laugh out loud happened a few years ago around Halloween.
I was sitting at a round table of writers in a creative writing class at the Women’s Institute. Toward the end of the class, after everyone had had their turn reading their work, I made a comment—or rather, posed a question. “Did ya’ll just feel that?” I asked slightly alarmed. “I swear something just ran over my foot!”
I pushed back in my chair and peered underneath the table, where, prior to class, I had positioned a fake rat. And this was no ordinary rat. The hair was as real looking as yours or mine and the tail had that dull sheen to it. If you’ve ever seen a live rat, you know what I mean.
All hell broke loose in the classroom, especially for one writer friend on my left. When Martha spied the small hairy beast, she jumped up on her chair screaming one of those long, terrifying screams out of an old monster movie. Her feet moved like Ron Washington’s (the baseball manager for the Texas Rangers) when one of his players hits a homer.
Others in the class made noises and moved, too, but not like Martha. I laughed so hard that my stomach started hurting.
Martha, much to her credit, eventually laughed, too. She later made a promise, though, that still causes me to be on the look-out around every Halloween.
“I’ll get you back,” she swore, smiling like the Cheshire cat.