My brother PJ has always been a bit of a prankster. His pranks vary from the simple, like changing my AIM away message to something about poop (horror of horrors for an 18-year old girl with brand new college friends), to the more complex – pranks that take weeks of careful planning and preparation.
A few weeks shy of my sister Heather’s birthday, my brother caught wind of her hopes and dreams that my parents would be getting her a car for her sweet 16. He sensed an opportunity and pounced; he told her that he had been sworn to secrecy, so he couldn’t actually tell her what the gift was, but that he knew what my parents were getting her and she was going to love it. He didn’t say that it wasn’t a car, and that was enough for Heather.
Her excitement grew by the day, fueled by questions from PJ like, “What color do you think it is?” and “Where do you think you’ll go first when you get it?” The big day finally arrived and Heather was giddy with anticipation. Her very own car! The freedom! We had cake and ice cream and then it was time for presents. There were huge smiles all around – from my sister, who was picturing herself cruising down the highway; from my parents, who were sure they had hit it out of the park with their gift; from my brother, who was giddy himself waiting to see how his prank played out; and from me, because I was eating cake.
My parents handed Heather a small white box, which Heather assumed held the key to her new ride. She opened the box and promptly burst into tears because the key that she was expecting was actually a beautiful gold necklace. Confusion and delight abounded, depending on who you were looking at. The prank had landed, and landed hard, and my brother was thrilled. My parents had no idea why my sister was so horrified at the lovely necklace. The thought of getting Heather a car had probably never seriously crossed their minds, so her absolutely certainty that she was getting one left them a little bewildered, but it all came together when they heard the sound of PJ’s delighted giggling coming from behind his cake. It’s important to always be on your toes when you have a prankster in your midst.