Thursday, January 14, 2010

Brotherly Pranks, Part Two: April Fool's Day

April Fool's Day, 1978.  It was a Saturday.

I was in the kitchen preparing my usual breakfast -- chocolate fudge Pop Tarts and Nestle's Quik.  I was mixing in another spoonful of the chocolate powder when my brother Eric came in and opened the refrigerator.  He had a smirk on his face like he was up to something.

He took out a bottle of Heinz catsup.  Or if you prefer, ketchup.  I've never been sure of the official spelling but, either way, I'm pretty sure you know what I'm talking about.

I got a Crazy Straw from the cabinet, stuck it in my chocolate milk, and took a sip. "What are you doing with that catsup?" I asked.

"Playing an April Fool's joke on Mom," replied Eric.

He took off the cap off the catsup bottle and applied a rather large glob on the palm of his left hand.  He distributed it between his fingers, on the back of his hand, and let it ooze down his wrist and forearm.  It looked like, to quote Lenny Small, "he got his hand caught in a machine."[1] 

"So, what's your plan?" I asked.

"I'm gonna go around front and come running inside, acting like I cut myself."

"I can tell you right now that Mom is NOT gonna think that's funny."

"It's gonna be great.  Just watch."

Eric was only nine years old at the time, while I was thirteen.  While Eric was completely oblivious to the outright panic he was about to inspire in our mother, I knew exactly what was going to happen.  If I were a thoughtful, well-meaning brother, I would have calmly explained the situation to him, and talked him out of his ill-advised prank.  

But c'mon, I had to see this for myself.

Mom was sitting in the living room, watching television and doing needle point.  She reminded me of a deer standing peacefully in the woods, not realizing that a hunter was about to blow his freakin' head off.  Meanwhile, Eric went out the back door and walked around the side of the house.  From my vantage point in the kitchen, I watched him stagger up the front steps, screaming in mortal agony.

"MOM!  MOM!  HELP!" 

Detailed analysis of the Zapruder film[2] reveals the following: 

Frame 112: Eric is opening the front door with his "good" hand, holding the "bloody" hand in the air.

Frame 124: Eric has entered the living room, Mom has clearly reacted to the situation and has just released her needlepoint.

Frame 131: The expression on Eric's face has begun to change.  His mouth remains open in a scream, but his eyes convey just a bit of humor.

Frame 140: Eric is clearly laughing.  Mom has a puzzled look on her face.  She hasn't figured out the joke yet.

Frame 150: Eric seems to be speaking, eyes aglow with mischief.  An eyewitness later confirmed that Eric was shouting the phrase, "APRIL FOOL!"[3] 

Frame 152: Eric's lips are puckered, pronouncing the "oo" in "fool".  Mom's arm is in full swing, open hand headed for Eric's right cheek. 

Frames 154-170: Mom slaps Eric firmly.  Eric's head is seen clearly snapping back . . . and to the left. 

In the aftermath, Eric tried to explain that it was only a joke, that he didn't mean to scare our poor, dear mother, and she sort of forgave him.  However, when she noticed me standing in the kitchen laughing my ass off, she turned her attention my way.

"Did you know he was going to do this?" she asked.

What to do, what to do?  I figured that if I told her the truth, she'd play the "you're the older brother, you should have known it was going to upset me" card and I'd get in trouble.  But if I lied, Eric was sure to seize the opportunity to rat me out and deflect the blame from him.  At that point it would be my word against his, and his bright blue puppy dog eyes and pudgy cheeks gave him a clear advantage.  Then I'd get in trouble for allowing it to happen and then lying about it.  I opted for the lesser of two evils.

"Yeah, I knew about it but I told him not to!  I knew you'd get mad, but he didn't listen!"

Mom looked at my brother.  "Eric, is that true?  Did he try to stop you?"

Eric batted his eyes (still teary), quivered his lower lip and said, "No, Mommy.  He told me to do it in the first place.  I didn't want to but he made me."  I think it was the cheeks that sealed my fate.

I pleaded my case, but Mom was still feeling the residual effects of her initial panic.  This, combined with the guilt she felt for swatting my "innocent" little brother, inspired her to sentence me to the usual household punishment.

The Hot Wheels track.[4]

[1] It's from Of Mice and Men.  Read a book, people.
[2] Okay, you caught me.  There's no sequel to the Zapruder film capturing my brother's joke on Mom.  It's just a comedic device I'm using here.  To be perfectly honest about it, they did the same thing on "Seinfeld" when Kramer got spit on by Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez.  But the hell with it, Larry David can kiss my ass. 
[3] Actually, he only made it as far as "April Foo..." 
[4] As I wrote about in a piece entitled "The Ghost of Christmas Presents", orange Hot Wheels tracks were my mom's disciplinary weapon of choice.

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Grumpy, M.D. said...

At least they hadn't invented the Hot Wheels track with the toothy crocodile at that time, to bite your ass.

Dual Mom said...

I would have given both of you a good ass whoopin'! lol Your poor mamma.

Homemaker Man said...

Yikes. The hot wheels track. Beaten by a beloved toy. Your mom liked a little irony with her violence.

Moooooog35 said...

I would have gotten a boot.

Like...deep in my ass.

Not in the good way, either.


Quirkyloon said...

I like your Mom.

She rawks.

Linda said...

As the eldest of 5, I can totally sympathize with you. My youngest sister had big brown eyes, and fluffy red-gold curls and could cry on cue.

Jenn Thorson said...

I can't believe she BOUGHT that and believed you told him to do it!

Of course, as the eldest of my cousins-- all of them boys, and one of them the devil incarnate-- I can attest to the fact the oldest kid gets the shaft for all things.

Grant said...

If your brother ever has kids or has kids you should start plotting your revenge now.

screwdestiny said...

Your brother had a messed up sense of humor. I'm sorry you got in trouble 'cause he was stupid.

ReformingGeek said...

Sheesh! I always though life was fair.


Mariann Simms said...

I'm with Homemaker Man on this one.

I just want to know how long you played with your Hot Wheels track before it dawned on you to stop already and have it boxed up. ;)

Respectfully Yours said...

That sucks, and your brother let you take it? Man, that was a bad day for you.

Suldog said...

I once did something similar, but even more gory.

(Remember, I'm an only child, so there was no one to share the blame or to deflect it to. Every stupid thing I ever did, I had to fess up to it.)

April Fools, same as this story. Except, being a very clever 7-year-old child, I took some red food coloring and (God's Honest Truth) squirted it into my eye. Then I walked into the living room.

I was lucky I didn't induce a cardiac infarction on the spot. Luckier still, I didn't permanently damage my eye. What a little idiot I was!

Funnyrunner said...

that absolutely SUCKS when your sibling gets you in trouble and there's nothing you can do about it. My boys have been enemy combatants the past few weeks. I'm at my wit's end. I have no idea how to get them to stop hating each other. suggestions?

Collette said...

Ah yes, being the oldest of 3 girls, I was always the one to blame regardless if I was the one to do the damage. If I didn't do it, then I should've told them not to do it. Damn siblings! LOL

Beth said...

Awesome joke idea! Maybe I should try this on my school nurse....

And those damn Hot Wheel tracks! My mother never left home without them.

jdemott said...

"...chocolate fudge Pop Tarts and Nestle's Quik" sounds like something I'd have eaten for breakfast circa 1977.

"Heinz catsup" Heinz definitely spells it ketchup. I know some Heinzes who are distant relatives of the founders. The spelling "catsup" makes me cringe, as if it's made from cats. Ack. Wonder why we need an alternate spelling on that.

Again, a very brotherly tale... these family stories are the ones I like best.

Chrissy said...

I eat that breakfast of champions, too!

Leeuna said...

Speaking as the baby in the family, all I can say is thank heavens for older siblings. (It saved my hide a lot) But to be fair, I also saved my older sister a lot of spankings too. I often took the blame for something she did because Mama would be less likely to punish me. (Yeah, I was a tiny little thing with big sad eyes...)

Fragrant Liar said...

I'd have throttled you both. Hot Wheels Track, my ass. It would be toilet duty, a la toothbrush.

KaLynn said...

hot wheel tracks or little child ski's, all the same. I throttled my youngest with a ski he found for starting a fire in the field. works about like a hot wheel track. hmmm, come to think of it, I may have tried that too. Give your Mom a thumbs up! Boys will be boys and Mom's will always win! HEHEHEHEEE!!

Jen said...

Had that been my house I would have done the deed because my older brother told me to. I would have gotten a good smack for being such an idiot to listen to him.

otin said...

My mother was the most unfunny person ever! Anything like that would have probably caused her anguish that I would still hear about to this day. I remembered the hot wheel track! wooden spoons were big in my upbringing discipline! said...

just poor execution of a prank and delivery on all accounts. but you lads were young.

TheHMC said...

Okay, I'm sorry, but that was hilarious. Good story telling. As a mother of 5 I can relate to your poor mother, and can relate a bit to what young boys can come up with for pranks. My (now) 9 year old had me pretty convinced he needed medical attention once and his only props were a butter knife and some really convincing crying ;).

Wendy said...

At least you're both still alive. Had that been my mother your brother's survival would definitely have been in question.

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