I am the youngest of three and spent an inordinate amount of time in my childhood trying to figure out one trick – JUST ONE – that would give me some leverage over my older brother and sister for all the times they flaunted their authority over me. Like that time they woke me up in the middle of the night and said, “Nancy, Nancy, we’re going to get a dog! Mom and Dad want you to come with them right now!” So I stumbled into my parents’ room saying, “We’re getting a dog? We’re getting a dog?” and was promptly yelled at and sent back to bed. That time they convinced me to hang onto a rope while they used the pulley principle to hoist me up into the big front yard pine tree, only to take off running when the telltale grunt of my dad’s red Volkswagon Beetle sounded from the top of my street. (It’s ok, I didn’t need the skin on my palms anyway.) The time we tobogganed down a hillside that ran alongside a creek and, when the toboggan took a bad turn, my sister and brother flew off, each to a separate snowbank, to watch me first catch air and then go full catamaran.
On April Fool’s Day in third or fourth grade, I thought I finally had it.
To reach my sister’s bedroom and mine, you had to open the door onto a narrow hallway and take a step down onto the yellow shag carpet that our dog Sandy liked to perfume with his special Eau de Dog Piss if we were lazy about taking him out for a walk. (He peed on my door only in the mornings, and my brother’s door only in the evenings, which just goes to show that he understood the details of the family household labor division better than we did.)
I decided that I would trip my bleary-eyed sister as she attempted to step up and out of our hallway on the morning of April 1, by stringing something across the doorframe. She’d splat into the hallway, and maybe then she’d think twice before she ever pulled a prank on me again.
And what did I string, early that morning before she’d woken up? Dental floss. Affixed with scotch tape.
Oh, yeah, I finally was going to take my sister DOWN for being five years older than me. I was sitting at the kitchen table giggling like mad when I heard her footsteps overhead. There was going to be a satisfying THUD any minute when she hit the doorway.
Wait for it…wait for it…
Keep waiting for it.
My sister entered the kitchen, took her seat at the table, and dug into her cereal. A good five minutes went by before she said, “What IS this wrapped around my ankle, anyway?” I didn’t have to look to know that it was a dental floss ankle bracelet, trailing two wee bits of clear tape.
I never really did learn how to pull a good prank. But I sure knew how to look foolish.