The Joke’s on you

By Rose Ann Sinay

Practical jokesters do not run in my family. Once in a blue moon, my serious, almost unapproachable father would suddenly become an excited kid planning an elaborate prank, anticipating a hilarious punch line. Because of his otherwise stern demeanor, my siblings and I were wary. We waited and watched and laughed only when we were sure it was appropriate. Unfortunately, his pranks didn’t usually hit the mark. In fact, there was a time or two when his plans backfired. Then, I couldn’t stop the giggles.

As a result of my funny bone confusion, I steered clear of moody, comedic wannabes. My husband (who is fun and witty) is comfortably predictable.

When our son came along, red-haired and blue-eyed, we knew we had our hands full. Terry found the typical little boy pranks hysterical: frogs under the pillows, tadpoles in the water glasses, Vaseline on the doorknobs. As he grew older, his pranks became more inventive. After having our kitchen floor re-tiled, he convinced his little sister that the kitchen floor would collapse if she walked in the middle. We wondered why our children walked through the room hugging the walls.

“He’s got quite the sense of humor,” several of his teachers told me. I was afraid to ask what he’d done.

“Oh yes,” I’d say. “He’s the class clown. I don’t know where he gets it.” I really didn’t.

Terry went on to be the student representative for the board of education and later vice president of his high school class of 500 plus students. In between the jokes and the pranks, he maintained a decent grade average. His last high school achievement was one I had innocently prophesized years ago. He was voted (you guessed it) the royal Court Jester.

College, traveling through Europe, and then marriage, my little prankster had grown up. He had a job, a wife, and a baby on the way. It had been quite a while since we’d spent any length of time under the same roof. Life was way too quiet and sane in our house. I missed the pratfalls and the salt in the sugar bowl.

The day of my husband’s 62nd birthday, Fed Ex left a package from our son on the front steps.

This birthday box contained an assortment of “interesting” gourmet foods including bottles of dangerous looking hot sauces (we like foods on the high end of the Scoville heat scale), and a box of homemade jalapeno and pistachio fudge that made my eyes water. And, then, there were the thoughtful gifts obviously picked out by his wife.

My husband laughed when he opened the enclosed card. It was a hot dog decorated with condiments and birthday sentiments. Inside were five scratch-off lottery tickets.

When the kids were younger, gifts always included a homemade card with five instant lottery tickets inside. It became one of their favorite traditions. Now, we were on the receiving end. The tables had turned.

My husband picked up a penny and methodically uncovered every box on four of the tickets. Not one matching number. Not even a tease.

There was one ticket left. My husband and I took turns scratching off the last covered spaces. I scraped the gray film off a box with $50,000 printed inside. Wouldn’t that be nice, I thought.

My husband unveiled the number in the next square – another $50,000. We needed three. With only one chance left, we scoffed at the thought of the third amount being there. We took a moment to enjoy the fantasy. What we would do with the windfall? A cruise? A new car? No, we’d share it with our kids.

My husband started scratching the last box from right to left. One “0” and then, a second and a third!

“Oh, hurry up,” I said, unable to stand the suspense.

And, suddenly, there it was . . . the third $50,000.

“No way!” I yelled. We looked at it over and over, again. There was no mistake.

“We have to be fair. The kids should share it equally.” We argued for a few minutes – there were so many possibilities. In the end, we decided a nice dinner and a night in a posh hotel was enough for us. We couldn’t wait to give our gift away.

Excited, we dialed our son’s cell number. No answer. We tried over and over leaving messages to call as soon as possible. We sat at the table anxiously waiting, marveling over our good luck.

Finally, he called back, “You’ll never guess, we practically shouted into the phone. “The lottery tickets you sent Dad – he won $50,000!”

There was silence on Terry’s side of the phone. “Really?” he asked. But there was something in the sound of his voice, a hint of laughter.

“We’re going to split it between you and your sister,” my husband said.

“You can plan a trip,” I said. There were so many things to do with $50,000.

“Did you read the back of the ticket,” my son asked?

My husband turned the slip of cardboard over.

“What?” my husband roared.

I picked the ticket up. To be redeemed by The Tooth Fairy was printed in bold black type. We could hear the laughter through the phone.

It was a few days before we could finally laugh about our fake windfall. We had to admit it was one of Terry’s best pranks, yet.

“I really like that we gave it all to the kids,” I said as we snuggled on the couch, watching television. That was pretty nice of us. It made me feel good,” I said.

“Yeah,” my husband agreed, “it really was a great present. I think we should do something special for his birthday.” There was a Cheshire cat grin on his face. “I have this idea . . .”

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer typing away in sunny North Carolina. Her articles/stories have been published in The Carolinas Today, The Oddville Press and The Brunswick Beacon.

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10 Responses to “The Joke’s on you”

  1. Mary Ann Miller says:

    As usual Rose Ann, you had my undivided attention from the first sentence. You NEVER FAIL to draw me into any of your short stories; but best of all, I know that they are true life adventures and I look forward to every one. You have a knack of making both the mundane, and the not so mundane, entertaining and sometimes, send me on an emtional roller coaster. Loved this! Can’t wait for another engrossing chapter in your life!

    • Rose Ann says:

      Thank you, Mary Ann. i appreciate your kind words! My kids sometimes preface things they do or say with “Don’t write about this!”

  2. Erika Hoffman says:

    Now that was a memorable birthday!

  3. Linda O'Connell says:

    Oh that little stinker. I have a feeling paybacks are coming. I enjoyed your story.

  4. Britt Sinay says:

    Great story

  5. Tammy Rohlf says:

    What a great story. Love the sense of humor. I can’t wait to read how he tops that joke!

  6. Sandy Forde says:

    I loved your story and could just feel the excitement both of you felt at the thought of $50,000 and how to spend it. Quite an effective prank. As always, the story of as great and Happy Birthday Terry.

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