Monday, December 29, 2014

The Family Prankster - Me!

This is a story that was published a few years ago in Not Your Mother’s Book – On Being a Stupid Kid. I thought you might enjoy reading it in this lull between holidays. It’s a bit longer than what I usually post, but I think you’ll enjoy learning about what a rotten kid I was way back in the day. I had a rather rowdy, antic filled childhood. Maybe you can relate?

Stalking the Sitter
Or How I Scared the Poop Out of My Sister
By Susan Sundwall

I don’t remember what I had going on that night, but when I got home Mom informed me that my sister, Shari, had taken a babysitting job that was ordinarily mine. In a family of seven kids money for extras was scarce so those sitting jobs were a nice little income stream for me, and I grumped about it as I headed for my room. I opened my dresser drawer and took out the envelope – the one that was full of my babysitting money. Well, maybe not full, but the seven dollars inside represented a goodly number of hours especially at fifty cents per. I hoarded every greenback in those days but tonight, thanks to Shari, there wouldn’t be any greenbacks to stash.

I was always the prankster in the family and as I tucked my money away, I thought of her, watching a little girl and her brother only two doors down. We lived in Southern California, in a development with a cul de sac. I babysat for about half of our immediate neighbors and others on streets one and two over. Well, the demon of pranking came and hopped onto my shoulder and the brilliance of the plan he offered was too much to resist.

What if I put on the stupid vinyl coat Mom had talked me into buying (it went down to my ankles and was hotter than an Anaheim pepper to wear) and grabbed one of Dad’s old hats from the hall closet? What if I slithered out of the house and slunk through the two yards between our house and where Shari was babysitting? I knew the property front and back. I knew the latch on that side gate had no lock. Wouldn’t it be hilarious to creep through the gate and knock on the back door, address her in a deep scary voice and die laughing when she nearly passed out from fright? I sincerely hoped she’d shriek and wet her pants.

I had to wait until everyone else in the house was busy before I could successfully launch my plan. The younger kids were glued to the television, Mom was in her bedroom, and Dad was in the garage. When it seemed safe I grabbed the coat and hat and managed to get out of the house un-detected. I quickly made my way across two lawns sincerely hoping no nosy neighbors were outside at that hour. My heart was hammering as I put on the hat and coat. I got to the gate, slipped through and stood at the back door. I knocked.

At first nothing happened. The back door was off the laundry room and I could see light from the living room just beyond the washing machine. I figured Shari was in there on the sofa watching television. The kids were probably already sound asleep. I knocked again, louder, and then saw her head pop round the corner into the dark laundry room.

“Who’s there?” she asked tentatively.

 “Is Sharon here?” I said gruffly.

“What?” she said, still with only her head showing. Her eyes were huge!

“Is Sharon here?” I asked, a little louder.

“Who is it?” she asked in a shaky voice, gripping the wall. “What do you want?” Her terror was on the rise and my mirth overflowed.

That’s when I lost it. I whipped off Dad’s hat and started laughing. “Did I scare you?” I gasped. I knew I had, but when she recognized my voice she charged through the laundry room shaking with rage. I got the prank gene and she got the rage gene – I should have remembered that!

“You creep!” she yelled, whipping on the back porch light. “You scared me to death. I didn’t know who you were!”

Which was the point, I thought. But the wrath in her voice was palpable and what she said next wiped the joy off my face.

“I’m telling Mom! She’s gonna kill you!”

Now mind you, I’d sat at the sibling negotiating table many a time. This was the place where you brought your arsenal of held back knowledge – knowledge of sister wrongdoings with which to make life saving deals. And now I had to bring out the big guns. Creeping around late at night in dark clothing and scaring the poop out of your younger sister was a mobster worthy prank.

“If you do, I’ll tell about you and Wendy smoking out behind the Seven 11,” I shot back. Wendy was our next youngest sister.

“Oh, yeah? I saw you sneak out with that Roger guy the other night! You were kissing him in the alley!”

Man, things were getting dicey here. I’d have to be a bit more cautious with my sneaking and pranking from now on. We traded volleys for a while and I finally decided the only thing I could do was apologize. So I did. By that time Shari had settled down, the kids hadn’t awakened during our little go round, and I skedaddled for home. No nosy neighbors saw me darting back over the lawns, for which I was grateful.

The next morning Shari and I eyeballed each other across the breakfast table. Each knew what the other was thinking. I felt I had the upper hand with the smoking thing on her. And I was pretty sure she was going to investigate any mob connections I might have.

 As it turns out the shenanigans of that evening went down in the family annuls as a classic tale – a “Sue story,” if you will. We’ve regaled each other and the family with it at various gatherings over the years and now our children and soon our grandchildren will get to hear that story along with so many others in our respective arsenals.  

And you probably already know this, especially if you’ve ever been accosted by the demon of pranking yourself, a good prank is something that just keeps on giving.

Image: sattva                                                     Free Digital Photos 


  1. My dad could teach college-level classes on pranking. My brother, too. Unfortunately, some here have inherited that unfortunate family trait. There really is no justice in this world...:D

    1. Justice vs. Fun. Hmmm. Tough call. Giggling.