My father has given me many things in my life. Of course he, along with my mother, taught me integrity, gratitude, empathy. They gave me food and shelter and protection, and you know, life. My dad also gave each of his kids some things which come from him alone. To my brother he gave a love of music and the annoying ability to carry a single word through about 15 puns. To me, crooked pinky fingers, bags under my eyes (which we’ve dubbed “Brust bags”), and rather unfortunately, a bunion. But by far, my favorite gift my father has given me is a deep abiding love of scaring people.
We have a gift, and we take this gift seriously. It might be cruel, and it might be slightly twisted, but you can’t squander a gift like ours.
The success of our scares is measured by three things: 1) how loudly we can make the
victim person scream; 2) how long it takes them to recover; and 3) how long we, the scare-er, laughs.
His favorite person to scare is my brother. My favorite person to scare is my husband.
If you haven’t jumped out and made your 6’2” husband scream like a three-year-old on a playground, you haven’t fully lived.
When we’d been married for just over a year, Porter went to do his nightly chore of feeding the cats. He thought I was in the bathroom getting ready for bed, but instead I was hiding in the kitchen waiting for my moment. I listened as he scooped the food in the laundry room, poured it into the bowl, and started walking back to the bathroom to deliver the food to the cats. Just as he passed the kitchen, I jumped out with my usual BOO, and the man jumped so high that the cat food flew across the apartment. We found the kernels for days. His scream traumatized the cats, and they hid under the bed for hours.
It was perfection.
Just a few months ago, I heard him say to the boys Where’s Momma? I took it as my cue. They were all in one of the bedrooms waiting for me to come join them. They called me, and they called me, and they called me. I pretended not to hear them and slowly and quietly crept through the house until I was at good jumping distance. When the time was right, I made my scare. Porter jumped into some sort of frenetic pose, his eyes wild and panicked, his scream a decibel so high it could have shattered glass.
It might have been my best scare to date.
As a parent, I consider it my duty to pass on gifts to my children. This morning I heard Case, our middle son, sneaking around a corner and jumping out to scare his brother. When Jet jumped (unfortunately, they don’t scream since they’re a little used to being scared), Case laughed hysterically.
Naturally, I sent a video to my dad of the third generation hard at work.
My work here is done, I said.
He responded simply, Good work, but he’ll need tactical and strategic work throughout the years.
It’s so good to know you’re needed.