Scare Tactics

“You kids go get in the car, I will be right out!” That was our cue! Mom being “right out” meant we had about ten minutes to kill. Usually there would be a kitty or two hanging around the front step in the sunshine. I’d stop and give some love and snuggles for about 9.5 minutes. Clif would be off doing who-knows-what with his 9.5 minutes. Then, in a sibling’s shared sixth sense, we would rendezvous at the same time, with the same master plan: find a hiding spot. We didn’t want to hide to avoid whatever outing we were about to go on. No, we were hiding with the sole purpose of jumping out and scaring our dad when he passed by to get in the car. Just the anticipation of joy and laughter we were going to get from seeing his face was enough to make me laugh every time, nearly giving away our spot. Somehow I would hold it together just long enough for us to execute Operation: Scare Dad. And every time it was a success. You really think he would have started to catch on or anticipate our sneaky emergence. But every time he was just as frightened and pissed off as before. “Ahhhh!!!! You kids are going to give me whiplash!”

Is there really anything in the world more fun than jumping out and scaring someone? Obviously not for the victim. That part sucks. There is nothing I hate more in the world than being scared. Your heart gets all thumpy. Adrenalin surges. Your fight-or-flight reactions really kick in. Maybe a million years ago our ancestors really needed these quick responses. It could be a Saber-Tooth Tiger jumping out to eat them. Or a T-rex. They needed their reactions to be immediate and strong. But I think it is pretty silly that we get the exact same feeling still today, when it’s just our annoying brother waiting at the bottom of the stairs with a “Boo!!!!!” See, as much as Clif and I were a team, we were also archenemies. When it came time to gang up on dad or Cal, we were unstoppable. But with no common adversary in sight, suddenly it was every man for himself. The stairway going down from my room to the kitchen was the perfect pouncing platform for a good scare, and Clif knew it all too well. And I hated it, so much. I hated it almost as much as I hated the surprise “jumper-cables” attacks. Being snuck up from behind and aggressively tickled at the same time? Umm yeah, that is absolute hell.

I wonder why we never scared mom? Maybe because her reaction was not nearly as emotionally charged and entertaining as dad’s. Or maybe she knew it was coming. She took that extra couple minutes in the house to watch from a safe distance as we jumped out and once again “scared the bejezus” out of him. Maybe she too had a good laugh. Maybe “I’ll be right out” was all part of her own scare tactic.

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