I have never had good luck playing practical jokes. They generally backfire, and I feel awful. I feel awful right now.
When I was four years old, my mother took me along shopping. I thought it was great sport to hide from her while she shopped. I would duck in and out of the clothes racks, crawling along as she moved through the ladies department. One day, I stayed out of contact too long, and I frightened myself. I burst out from under a rack and directly into the path of a middle-aged woman. She tripped and fell on me, and we both were banged up a little.
This particular day, my paternal grandmother was along. She was quite a feisty woman, in her mid-fifties, and she gave that poor woman a great deal of grief for having tripped over me. I felt quite bad, though, because it was totally my fault. I didn’t tell that to grandma, but let her tear into this innocent woman instead.
Not long after that incident, I decided to hide from my mother. This was before I had started school, and so she was a stay-at-home-mom at that point. I hid in the living room underneath one of the end tables next to the sofa. I thought it was rather obvious, and that I’d be discovered shortly. I also thought it was funny that she enlisted my brothers and the ten or so other boys in the neighborhood to find me.
I had no idea how frightened she was for my sake, and that somehow she imagined me drowning in the creek that flowed through the park behind our house. When the search party didn’t find me, she started to cry. I became scared. Now I was worried that she’d be mad at me for causing such a stir, and now I didn’t want to reveal myself.
However, when my mother phoned the police, I could no longer contain my emotions, and I began to cry. I still did not crawl out from where I was, but instead sobbed and cried out for help like the pathetic, naughty boy that I was.
When I was twenty-five, I went to a restaurant with my father and mother. We had to wait for a table. While we waited, I noticed that someone got into a car exactly like my father’s. It was parked just three spots from his car—same make, same model, same year, same color. I thought this was funny, but what I said to my father was: “Hey look, someone is stealing your car.”
My father, being a former jet pilot, feared little. Even at the age of fifty, he was going to stop this crime. It took all my strength to restrain him, and I had to shout to get past his rage and make him understand that it was just a joke. He never laughed at that one.
Today I noticed that my next door neighbor had a new television in the back of his pickup truck. He had pulled up close to his house, but had not unloaded. I went in for a closer look and saw that he also had a new sound system to accompany the nice, fancy television. The door of his truck was open, so I knew he had just stepped inside before unloading. I thought it would be funny to hide the box with the sound system.
I placed the box on the side of his garage out of sight. I then sneaked back to my house and waited near the door for him to discover that it was missing, planning on sharing in a great laugh. However, my daughter needed me at that precise moment, and called me away. I then forgot about my little joke.
Poor Tom, unfortunately, thought that somehow the expensive component had bounced out of the truck, and raced off. I am lucky that his wife discovered the missing box a few moments later, and luckier still that Tom did not get hurt during that wild goose chase.
I should really just get myself a very comfortable chair, sit the hell down, and never get up.