It’s really amazing how much energy a younger brother is willing to expend to make life miserable for his sister. But I wasn’t all bad. In fact, on Halloween, I spent every cent I had on a ‘gift’ for my sister.
There used to be a TV series – a thriller – that always began with a dark screen, and a tiny white dot in the center. The dot slowly grew, eventually becoming recognizable as a human eye, and ultimately ended up the size of your entire living room wall, rushing at you out of the screen. For some reason, the sight of this eye was more than my sister could bear, and she would always shudder and turn away. She refused to turn back until we told her it was gone. Obviously, I often gave her the all-clear a few seconds early, just to enjoy her reaction.
The day before Halloween, I was in a store with all my savings, looking for a truly frightening mask. Suddenly, a 4 by 6 foot poster popped up, seeming to scream at me, “BUY ME, BUY ME!”
So, I did.
That night, I remember missing the end of one of my favorite programs, so that I could gain undetected access to my sister’s room. I taped the poster of a giant eye over the wall directly inside her bedroom door, and placed her desk lamp on the floor, casting an eerie glow upward onto the poster. Then I hid in the laundry hamper in the hall near the door, which was right at the top of the stairs.
After what seemed an eternity, I finally heard her coming up the stairs, and I could barely contain myself. She topped the stairs, opened her door, started to say something, but it turned into nothing more than a gurgle. Then she screamed. And screamed. And continued to scream.
By now, I was laughing so hard that I didn’t notice she was also backing up while she screamed. Then she started an entirely new kind of scream, which ended with a thump, as she hit the landing at the bottom of the stairs. By now, I was truly hysterical, and couldn’t even begin to stop laughing. Sometimes that happens, when you find yourself laughing so hard you can’t stop. Even after several minutes. Even after you hear your father stomping up the stairs to end your laughter. Even after he rips the lid off the top of the hamper, hinges and all, and is gurgling too, as he reaches for your laughing face.
Did I mention that my Dad’s sense of humor was sometimes conspicuously absent?