When mischief backfires
April 9, 2012 | 11:00 am
(Updated: February 22, 2013 | 3:54 pm)
Siblings can seem like a blessing or a curse. Growing up with two older sisters, I had both. I idolized them, and while not always understanding gender, wanted to be like them. I reveled in the times when they would paint my nails or let me play with their dolls. But sometimes I loathed them for mocking or playing tricks on me.
For me, like for most kids, turning out the lights to go to bed meant turning on the fears of what lurked in the dark. Nightlights only made it worse; the shadows just seemed to get darker. At 8-years-old, the sliding closet doors freaked me out the most. Before crawling up into my bunk bed, I would make sure they were shut. Occasionally, I would wake to hear the terrifying sound of the doors slowly opening, only to realize it was our family cat trying to paw her way in to the closet. Stacking stuffed animals against the door blocked her from tampering with my fear.
One night, after making sure the animals were properly placed to thwart the cat, I climbed into bed ready to dose off. Seconds later, the closet door flung open. I screamed for help. Just as my parents rushed in, I could hear my sisters giggling from outside the room. They had rigged the closet door with string and yanked it. My parents tried to sooth me, stifling their own laughter. I could tell they wouldn’t punish my sisters; retribution was left in my hands.
Revenge comes easily to an imaginative kid. In the late ’80s, big hair still indicated big beauty. My oldest sister was 18 and quite good at dating. Therefore, her good looks meant a lot to her. I giggled to myself as I poured her hairspray down the sink drain and refilled the bottle with water.
As for the other sister, I dipped her toothbrush in a liquid numbing agent used for canker sores. I hoped she’d panic when she unexpectedly wouldn’t be able to feel her mouth.
That evening, an intense video game session was abruptly interrupted by my oldest sister’s shrieks. I had almost forgotten about my plots, and ran upstairs to have the last laugh. I found my sister in tears with flat hair. The running mascara should have been a bonus, but I wasn’t laughing. The moment she noticed me watching her, she lunged, in full attack mode. My father stepped between us, while, to my surprise, he directed his punishing speech at me.
Had my dad forgotten about the closet hoax? I didn’t understand how I could be the one in trouble when my sister so obviously deserved it. But it took only a moment for me to see the anguish on my sister’s face. Instead of laughing, I felt a knot in my stomach. I was ordered to my room, no access to video games for the night.
Sitting in solitude effectively gave me time to think. My sister’s scorn seemed much worse than mine. The look on her face said she hated me. My awesome revenge didn’t leave me satisfied; rather, it left me filled with guilt.
Then I realized prank two was still to come. Already in trouble, I had to stop it. I put my ear up to the door and anxiously waited for things to settle down. Once I heard nothing but the murmur of televisions, I escaped the bedroom and raced to the bathroom to vigorously wash the toothbrush.
It didn’t work. I knew that when my parents charged into my room to officially ground me. Yet the guilt of it all was punishment enough. My sisters originally wanted a mere lark, and in the end, the only person who actually got malicious was me.
Belittled by my sisters’ closet door prank, I lost the fact that I should have laughed with them rather than plotting their revenge. Even though being the target of a hoax wasn’t the most enjoyable way to get attention, it would have fared better than needlessly turning myself into a villain. Trying to have the last laugh didn’t seem so fun after all, and learning how to laugh at myself would eventually be much more ideal for everyone.