A freewheelin’ day with nothing to do but ride around the neighborhood and plan out my devious pranks. Mom and Dad are having a party tonight and my mind is in overdrive. I have some pretty good stuff planned, I just need time alone to line it all up. I park my bike on the lawn and creep into the house from the back door. I am startled to hear my name being intoned in an apparently serious discussion between Mom and Dad. I duck behind the living room sofa and listen intently.
“So, if Sebastian thinks it’s so funny to catch us fooling around in his treehouse, does that mean I can skip the Birds and the Bees talk?” My Dad sets his coffee down and sighs.
Mom takes a sip from her mug and sets it on the table next to Dad’s. “I don’t think I can let you off the hook that easy, Sigismund. But the talk we really need to have with him is about respecting people’s space and privacy.”
“We need to think about a punishment that fits the crime. But frankly, I can’t think of anything until we get through the cookout tonight. Tell me again, why are we hosting the annual meeting of the Homeowner’s Association?” Dad sounds more annoyed than usual and it occurs to me that the punishment he has in store will only quadruple in size if I can pull off the major stunt I have in mind for the benefit of this evening’s guests.
They drink in unison and then make plans to do some shopping. Perfect! In their absence, I can get to work.
The plumbing is demanding to be transformed into instant super-soakers in the guest bath. It is a trick I have practiced on myself several times, trying to nail it down so the victim walks away in hopelessly soggy clothing. I know Mom and Dad have no reason to use this bathroom so the fixtures should be poised to explode as soon as one of the neighbors uses them tonight.
Some jokes never go out of style and spending some simoleons at an online joke shop was a wise choice.
I could only afford three and it saddens me to think that the whoopie cushions will be confiscated upon discovery…
But the thrill I experience as I gently prop the inflated pieces of rubber on our living room chairs wipes away the thought of losing my mischievous toys in the future. What matters is tonight!
By the time Mom and Dad return, I have the whole house rigged for non-stop hilarity–at least for me! They find me in the backyard, innocently splashing around on the water slide we can’t get enough of. Mom and Dad change into their swimsuits and join me and for an hour or so, we are a loving family, enjoying each other’s company. But the entire time, in the back of my mind, I am counting off the minutes for the festivities to begin.
At last, the afternoon is waning into a warm summer twilight. The guests are gathered, waiting for Dad to fire up the grill. I have made the rounds per Mom’s request, saying hello to people that aren’t strangers, but aren’t friends either. Then I spot my twin Aunts, Lyssandra and Hansu. I have a moment of doubt–these two have always been very good to me, bringing me wonderful gifts when they would occasionally babysit for me. I consider warning them but what if they rat me out? I guess they will have to take their chances with everyone else.
Dad is keeping the Nectar flowing so most everyone is oblivious as I walk across the yard to my lair, what looks like our innocuous detached garage, but is in fact ground zero for a prank I’m about to pull that is unrivaled by anything I have done before. It takes me a while to work up the nerve but then I am shedding my clothes down to my underpants and struggling to pull on the constricting satin and lace. I balance the veiled hat precariously atop my head and take up my frilly wand, then carefully slide the fitted gloves over my hands. Finally, I shove my feet in the plastic kitten heels and stumble about the concrete floor for a moment until I can walk right.
As I step onto the grass, the kitten heels sink in and I almost lose them as I try to move forward. I am immediately aware that the summer heat and this polyester costume are not a pleasant combination. I start sweating profusely and the damp material clings to my skin and itches like mad. My heart is pounding so loud that my ears throb with every pulse. I have never felt so conspicuous in my life. Yet…no one seems to notice me.
No matter, I see my intended target. Pop is having what I know is a torturous conversation with Nancy Landgrab–or Land-Hag as he refers to the President of our Homeowner’s Association when he is talking about her to Mom. I start to walk towards them, struggling to keep the plastic princess shoes on my feet. I can only take small, almost mincing steps and my hips sway back and forth in an exaggerated female fashion.
I’m a little taken aback when I realize the HOA Newsletter photographer is taking a picture of me but I decide to go with it and turn and give her the ‘elbow elbow wrist wrist’ wave and blow her a kiss. The old man is so enrapt in his talk with the Hag, he hasn’t gotten a gander of the spectacle I’m making. I’m getting a little impatient and I’m so hot, I feel like I’m going to pass out. I decide to kick it up a notch.
I whip out my wand and begin shaking fairy dust over two people in the middle of a chess game and say in a high, wavering voice that by no accident is a spot-on imitation of Nancy’s snooty tone “My subjects of the Kingdom Notorious, I bestow my blessings upon you.”
That got Dad’s attention real quick. Within seconds, I feel a rough hand encircling my gloved arm and I am being yanked through the open sliding glass door. The air conditioner is sweet, cooling relief but the look on Pop’s face is even better. I have never seen him look more discombobulated!
Out comes the finger of shame, pointing at me and pointing towards my room.
“I don’t know what you think you are doing but I can absolutely assure you, in case you have any doubt, that NO SON OF MINE WILL WEAR A DRESS AND SASHAY AROUND IN PUBLIC AND-”
The room fills with gasps, as all the guests have followed us inside and are standing around in a circle.
I look up into their faces and I see expressions of shock…
and Disapproval. Only their expressions are not aimed at me. Their eyes are all on Pop!
I seize the moment and start to wail. Which sets the old man off even worse. He starts laughing and says in a sing-song voice “Oh, did I make the little princess cry? Poor widdle pwintheth, run off to your room now and cwy in your pillow!”
“Sigismund Notorious, that is enough!” Jocasta Bachelor’s authoritative voice rings out over Dad’s mocking and the whole room falls silent. “Just because a child chooses to experiment with gender roles is no reason for you to bully him. It is behavior like yours that leads to distortion of identity and shame and self-loathing, something no parent should want to burden their child with.” The crowd begins buzzing in unison, and the sentiment seems to be pro-Jocasta, anti-Dad.
Pop is absolutely flabbergasted. Once upon a time, my old man was a very important person and though he is retired, people still walk on eggshells around him. But this public chastisement, this humiliation in front of his peers, it is amazing! I could have planned and planned and never come up with a better outcome than this one! Slowly, Dad turns away from me. He looks to the furious group around him and gives a lame chuckle. He starts to speak, then stops, starts to shrug, then hangs his head.
“My…ummm, uh outburst…was, well, I see your point…ummm, and I ah, I should apologize…” As Dad’s stutters through this speech, he backs into the living room and sits down. Oops. The sound that emanates from the deflating whoopie cushion is monstrous.
Like the laughter that erupts from our neighbors! They love it! The break in the mood gives my mother the opportunity to call everyone back outside, where she has opened more bottles of nectar and lit the citronella candles to keep pesky mosquitoes away.
“Sigismund, let’s get the steaks on,” Mom says to Dad, the amusement in her voice not at all disguised.
“Huh?” he mumbles as he rises from the offending chair, so confused about these recent events. But he dutifully follows his wife outside and gets to grilling. Now…I am alone in the house, as all the guests have drifted back outside…and I could do the right thing and disable my trickery to save those potential victims that so quickly came to my defense.
But I am distracted by Nancy Landgrab. She motions for me to join her and Jocasta Bachelor.
They proceed to ooh and ahh over my outfit, asking me if I sewed it myself and do I like to play with dolls and assuring me repeatedly that there was nothing wrong with my behavior. Then they asked me where our bathroom was. So being the charming little princess I had become, I took them by the hands and led them straight to the guest facilities.
Jocasta went in first. I waited outside with Nancy, and we continued our little chat. Then, from behind the bathroom door came a familiar flushing sound followed by a not-so-familiar shrieking. Nancy pushed past me and opened the door to discover her friend being deluged by the toilet! Some of the water splashed on Land-Hag and she turned to the sink, crying out “My makeup, my makeup!”
But her attempt to clean her face only resulted in another massive dose of spraying water. Both ladies rushed out, straight to the living room, crying and wringing themselves out. My mother rushed to them. “Oh, I’ll get you some towels immediately, just have a seat and try to calm down, I’m so sorry!” Mom thought she was sorry now, wait’ll they sit down.
First Nancy started to drop into a living room chair.
Simultaneously, Jocasta’s backside hit the seat. The whoopie cushions exploded at the exact same time and the sounds were perfectly in synch and thunderous. Both ladies shrieked again.
Dad was apoplectic. “Do you see what I have to put up with? Do you understand why I get so angry?” And he was angry, so much so, he could barely get the words out. By now, the ladies were rounding up their purses and their family members, tossing glares back at my mother and my father. They and the other guests couldn’t get out of the house fast enough.
Amid all the chaos of our neighbors stampeding towards the exit, Hansu and Lyssandra came towards me.
“We’ve arranged for you to stay at our house tonight,” they whispered conspiratorially and whisked me out of the line of Pop’s fire.
Later that night, I was soaking in my aunties’ tub, reflecting on what a triumphant evening it was and feeling mighty proud of myself. I knew things were going to be rough when I finally had to return to face my father’s wrath. But for now, I just wanted to bask in my glory.
Had I known what Dad had in store for me upon my return, I might not have felt so glorious.