At the end of every March, my gears begin to turn. I sit and ponder, sometimes for hours, as I calculate my schemes. Many have identified me as a prankster, for which I do not blame them, as I often look to the first day of April as one of the most exciting days of the year.
As a kid, I often fell for my older siblings' traps. Once, when they were babysitting me, my brother convinced me that the house was on fire so I would scream loud enough that my sister would get off the phone. They had me certain there were people living in the woods of the cow pasture, and I couldn't go into our bathroom unless the shower curtain was open in fear of someone jumping out at me. Three kids combined with a farm full of critters was cause for a constant stream of chaotic practical jokes in our house. And yes, our parents still put up with us.
It wasn't until I got to college that my schemes really caught up to the rest of them. With both my siblings at least a decade older than me, the brunt of my practical jokes fell upon the shoulders of my dad - bless his soul. Whether I was messing with the remote, calling the house and hanging up or timing all the clocks to go off at random hours of the day, I learned just how far I could push his buttons while remaining on his good side.
The greatest prank I ever pulled, and quite honestly may ever pull, on my dad was over winter break of my sophomore year of college. In the four weeks following fall semester finals, I hadn't even thought about pulling a practical joke - something so out of character, my dad apparently had taken notice.
The night before I was set to head back to the Twin Cities, we were sitting at the dinner table when my dad said, "Your break went so fast, you didn't even have time to pull a joke on me."
The gears in my head immediately went into high gear as I sensed a hint of challenge in his voice. Feeling dared to top any prank before this time, I sat and pondered the perfect way to say "see you soon" before I headed back to Minnesota.
Knowing I had to do so at the right time as not to provoke retaliation, I filled my mom in on my plan. I was set to leave the house at 3 o'clock in the afternoon the following day, and right before I left, I knew my dad had a meeting in town to give me a window of time.
Did you know that if you turn a lightbulb one quarter of the way to the left, it does not turn on with a switch? Somehow, I was aware of this fact. I also learned that day that there are 55 lightbulb fixtures in my parent's house. With every single one unscrewed just enough that they wouldn't turn on, and my mom fully informed of what was going to happen, I said adios and hit the road back to school.
I'm very thankful that my mom could keep her face straight all night, because I don't think I would have been able to do so. All while my dad tinkered with fuses, replugged in every lamp and made numerous phone calls trying to figure out why none of the lights were working in his house, my mom played it off as if she knew nothing before he finally figured out that all the lightbulbs were unscrewed.
Although my mother replayed this entire scene through text messages the next day, I was a little disappointed when I didn't get an immediate reaction from my dad over the phone. Weeks went by and he never mentioned that the joke had even happened. I thought he had just pushed passed it. That was, at least, until the week of Valentine's Day.
I had received a fairly large package in the mail a couple days before Valentine's Day. As I wasn't expecting anything, I opened up the package to a note, a lightbulb and a light socket screwed into a small block of wood. Laughing aloud, I read the note attached to the bottom of the box.
"Since you don't seem to know how these work, I thought you might need the practice. You got me good, but don't think you've got the last laugh. - Dad"
While we may give one another a bit of grief, I am grateful my family has always given me a reason to smile and laugh. Laughter is important - while it may not add years to your life, it will certainly add life to your years. May your jokes be of good intention and your homes filled with laughter as it truly is life's best medicine.