“Weeeeellllll, if it isn’t young Sebastian Notorious and look, you’re a little entrepreneuer.”
I look up from my bake sale table and spot Dad’s enemy number one, Nancy Landgraab, the Queen of the Homeowner’s Association. Finally, a customer and all of the people to sell my wares too, it’s her! The toasty aroma of fresh-out-of-the-oven muffins wafts on the spring morning breeze right under my nose and a loud, gurgling rumble emanates from my hungry stomach.
Nancy goes on in her snobby voice. “What, pray tell, did you use to make this delightful confection?”
I glance skyward, acting as if I were in deep thought, contemplating the recipe.
In reality, I am having a fiendishly delightful flashback to the night before. Waiting in the dark in my bedroom until I heard my father’s bear-like snores from his bedroom. Sneaking into the kitchen to my SimmyBake Oven and quietly mixing all the ingredients including the extra-special, extra-secret one that only I would know about…until it was too late. Ha!
“I guess I will just have to take them all, little man,” Nancy continues, her words dripping with money and stuck-up-ness, so patronizing, I want to pick up the plate and smash them in her over-made-up face. But I will only have to wait a little while longer for my plan to go into effect. Ideally, I will never know the results except in my imagination, I think as I watch her sashay away from the rickety bake sale table. She turns to wave and I quickly and as innocently as I can muster, wave back.
Yesterday was such a great success, I decide to try to find another victim. But as I am straightening my plate of baked goodies, a long, perfumed shadow falls across the table and I look up and for a moment I am frozen.
“You little monster!” Nancy Landgraab shrieks and her lacquered, claw-like nails reach towards me.
Just then, good old Pop comes outside to check on me. A good thing, or a bad thing…time will tell.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa…Nancy, what are you doing to my son?” Dad’s voice is laced with genuine curiosity but I know underneath that is nothing but contempt. How he dislikes this woman.
“The question, Sigismund, should be what has your son done to me? And my family? With his horrible trick! You should be ashamed and disgusted of this boy.”
“Sheesh, Nancy, that is some pretty strong language. What could he possibly have done to upset you so much?” Dad was trying to be diplomatic but I could hear something else in his voice…dare I say it? Was Pop fiendishly delighted to see his archnemesis so riled?
“That little brat put laxatives in those muffins!” She half-shouted, half-wailed.
“Nancy, I am shocked, shocked! to hear that my son would do this to you but I am sure it was not personal. Please, give me some time to speak to him and I will send him to your house immediately to apologize to everyone and to share with you his punishment.”
First, good old ‘Pointy’ is in my face. Jab, jab, jab, Pop’s index finger is his favorite weapon.
Along with the finger stabbing the air for emphasis, the lecture. Blah blah blah “when I was your age” blah blah blah “don’t you know that you can put people in harm’s way” blah blah blah “that woman causes me enough grief already blah blah blah.
Finally, the punishment. He did just what he promised old ugly Landgraab face, he sent me over to apologize and then he confiscated my bake sale table and my SimmyBake Oven. Oh, well, the joke is over so what good would those things do my anymore. I drag my heels all the way to the neighbor’s house but already, the wheels of mischief are turning and I’m wondering what will I do for my follow-up?
Pranks come pretty natural to me. I was a trickster the minute I was conceived. Mom and Dad had already sent my siblings, Mariposa and Vereen off to college and they were really looking forward to having their lives children-free. Not so fast…here I am being born!
Mom says I was pretty difficult. I think it was the lack of freedom to express myself in the way that would become my trademark–lowdown, dirty mischief! But once I started walking, no one was safe.
I started at two and my first medium was glue. Not that gooey, white paste that some of my peers think is delicious, oh, no. I found the good stuff in Dad’s tool box and with my stepping-stool, I was able to make a mess of this dresser.
I never meant for Mom to be the receipient of my badness. This time was the one and only time she had to suffer at the hands of her son. From then on, I was very careful to make sure Dad was the target.
Wow, the look on Dad’s face when he realized the chess pieces were permantly affixed to the board. But that was baby stuff. I had much bigger and bolder plans…but how was to implement them?
Inspiration can come from surprising places and originally I was dreading our field trip to the Science Center. How could I pull a prank in a place I was unfamiliar with. I was not yet good on the fly, I needed lots of planning. Another thing I hated about field trips is that I always had to sit with the chaperone. I had quite the reputation for bad behavior.
I entered the building, passing the fountain that to me was absolutely lackluster because it wasn’t filled with suds. To me, it was going to be another boring seminar and with a teacher or parent taking the seat besides me, what could I possibly get up to?
But I came out of the Science Center a changed young man…see, they had a gift shop…
I have the power! No more baby pranks for me, I was taking it to the next level!
Inspiration is everything when it comes to pulling the most ingenious pranks. One day, the old man called me into his bathroom to mop up a puddle that was never-ending, seeing Dad was having such a hard time fixing the shower. Eventually, me managed to stop the leak. But my mind was going a million devious miles a minute.
Some quality time in the laboratory, which Dad thankfully had set up in the detached garage for me, led to the discovery of a potion that would do just what I wanted it to do–humiliate my next victim–Pop, of course!
Now the tricky part, finding some time to get into the Master bath without my parents catching me. I’m fast, lightening-fast–the stealth trickster!
I think I can actually make this work! Mom doesn’t take showers, so she’ll be safe. I just have to wait for Dad. My only regret is that there is nowhere to hide in the bathroom so I won’t actually get to see my handiwork. But I’ll know the scream of agony…it’ll be the thrilling sound of success! I’ll put tape over the doorlatch so he can’t lock it and then I’ll bust in at the right moment!
“What the…what is dripping down my neck?”
(Looks in mirror)
“Ariane! ARIANE, HELP!”
Dad gets very quiet. I am standing in the door, my hand over my mouth, but the the giggles are spilling out. From the angle of the door I can see his head and shoulders in the mirror over the sink. Oh, well, Pop, you know what they say…Blondes have more fun!
Through gritted teeth, comes the lecture…then the punishment. But I don’t even hear what he is saying because Mom has joined me and we are roaring with laughter.
“Ariane, don’t encourage him,” Dad pleads but she shakes her head.
“It’s funny, Sigismund. Relax. It’ll wash right out, won’t it honey?”
I shrug and wander away. What next, what next?
Now you see them…
Now you don’t!
Get home early from school and this prank is just begging to happen!
I tip toe into the garage and shut the door, but I can hear everything from the open windows.
First I hear the Simmcuzzi jets die down, indicating that Dad is sufficiently pruned. Then the sloshing sound of him pulling his beluga whale body out of the hot tub. Then a pause…then
‘ARIANE! GET OUT HERE AND BRING ME A TOWEL!”
I can hear my mother laughing softly. “Sigismund, if you want to parade around the backyard naked, we are going to have to build a privacy hedge or Nancy Landgraab will have you by the–”
“My lack of clothing is not my idea, it is your son’s. Where is he?” Dad sounds quietly furious. I know what is coming next.
“I don’t know how to make him understand that he must respect me. All I can do is punish him but nothing seems to sink in, it just seems to make him more insolent. It is like a challenge to him, ” my father rants.
Moments later, I am being summoned. I could pretend not to hear him but it does not good, he will always find me.
Dad’s in rare form tonight. He jabs that finger in every direction, in the air, at me, and finally, the dreaded corner.
“C’mon, Pop. I’m too big to stick my nose on the wall. Can’t I just do chores or something?”
Dad nods. “You’re right. You are too big–for your britches. Fine, the corner is out but I want the entire garage cleaned up by the end of this weekend. Do you understand?”
I agree with some reluctance–I’ve made a pretty big mess inside my lab–but it beats being treated like a baby.
On my way outside, I pass through the den and I make an incredible discovery. Dad has left out his precious digital video recorder! Do I dare?
Oh, yeah. You’re gonna be my new best friend!
I do spend most of the weekend cleaning up the garage. Then I tell my folks I’m off to the Paige’s house to hang out. I jump on my bike, ride around the corner, park it in the bushes near the entrance to our neighborhood and sneak back. Just in time, too and I get some kind of footage on the video camera! When I’m done, I set it back where I found it. Now it is just a matter of time before the results of this prank are known.
“Ariane,” I hear my father call out Sunday evening. He seems especially in a good mood because I did such a good job in the garage.
“It is still storytime, Sigismund,” Mom hollers back. “I’m putting Sebastian to bed.”
“I want to see those home movies I took,” Dad responds impatiently.
Here’s the big moment, I think.
“We can stop here, Mom,” I say in my sweetest voice. “Thanks for reading to me.”
Mom leans over and kisses my forehead. “Thanks for letting me, my angel,” she answers.
I don’t even feel a twinge of guilt. Just excitement at what’s about to go down!
“Come on, Ariane. Here you are in the garden!” I hear Dad say excitedly. What’s so exciting about Mom picking tomatos?
“Wait, Ariane…I, huh? I don’t remember filming the treehouse?”
“ARIANE! GET IN HERE NOW!”