I remember clearly that Independence Day when my brother, Clark, got shot in the stomach by a misfiring Roman Candle. Blast after blast, the fireworks were shooting into the sky, dazzling everyone who looked on. Suddenly, unexpected to everyone, it backfired, shooting a white-hot fireball into Clark’s stomach. Dad freaked out, like any father would. Clark freaked out too, like any five year old would.
That’s how my practical jokes go sometimes. Boom! Right back at me! Burned!
Like the time, just a couple of months ago, when I hid the little laughter box under the sheets. My little girl, Hazel, had this baby doll that laughed when it was squeezed. One day she figured out how to remove the little plastic box inside that made it laugh, and she realized that when she squeezed the little white box, it laughed for fifteen seconds. She got all the laughs she always enjoyed, but now with something that fit conveniently in the palm of her hand- walking around the house, squeezing the little box and laughing along with it.
Naturally, being who I am and having a complete inability to help myself, when I stepped on the little white box she had left on the floor, a brilliant plan came immediately to mind. I would put it under our bed sheets, on my wife’s side of the bed, so that when she climbed into bed it would go off. It would be hilarity in its purest form, right?
The problem with my plan, though, was that I forgot about it by the time we went down for the night. And since she somehow didn’t lay on the little laughter box, it didn’t go off… until about three in the morning. It starts laughing, and our half-asleep consciousness thought it was Hazel in the next room laughing in the night. But she kept laughing and laughing and laughing until Jammie jumped out of bed to see what was going on in the kids’ bedroom. Making her way to the door, however, Jammie realized the baby laughter was coming from behind her… from our own bed. It wasn’t until about that time that I finally remembered my joke. We both got a good laugh about it, but the joke was on me because once I’m fully awakened, it takes me a long time to go back to sleep.
The ultimate backfire, or “epic fail” as teenagers say today, was back when I was eleven. I’d gotten out of bed on a typical morning, went to the bathroom, and before getting started on my day I noticed how my oldest brother, Bryan, was sleeping. He was on his left side, with his left arm sticking out, hanging over the bed. I had recently heard of a practical joke where, if you put someone’s hand in warm water while they’re sleeping, they’ll pee the bed. So, being who I am and having a complete inability to help myself, when I saw his arm outstretched like it was, as if he were begging me to try out this infamous joke, I hurried to the kitchen to fill a bowl with warm water. It would be hilarity in its purest form, right?
The problem with my plan, though, was that the joke simply doesn’t work. I knelt there beside his bed, resisting the urge to laugh, holding the bowl steady, but nothing happened. The bad news was that there was no urinating taking place. The good news was that he didn’t wake up. So, being who I am and having a complete inability to help myself, plan B immediately came to mind. I had already punched my ticked on the prank train, and trains take a long time to stop, so even if I wanted to stop trying to prank him, the momentum in my mind pushed me forward. It just made sense that, since I was hoping to make him wet the bed, the next best thing would be to make him think he wet the bed. I would take the warm water in the bowl and pour it on him. It would be hilarity in its purest form, right?
The problem with my plan, though, was that I assumed the water wouldn’t wake him up and I’d be able to slip out of the room undetected. After all, the warm water on his hand didn’t wake him.
Oh man, the look on Bryan’s face! The millisecond I started to pour the water on his crotch he jumped up.
This is the point of the story where I have to nominate my big brother for the “Nicest Big Brother Ever” award because any, and I mean ANY, other big brother on planet earth would have pounded me into pulp at that point.
“What are you doing?”
I’m not sure if he was more confused or more angry.
I froze. I just stood there… and stood there… and stood there.
“Seriously, what are you doing?”
And that was all I said, “uh.” How was I supposed to explain something like that? How do you explain to someone twice your size why you’re pouring water on his crotch while he sleeps? And that was the end of the story. I just turned and walked out the door. Nicest big brother ever. True Story.