A Small But Effective Army

dad

My Dad loved playing gentle pranks. Most involved mental sleights of hand. For example, I was once walking down a street with him when we spotted a Chevy Nova parked by the curb. It had a bad paint job and a racing stripe down the hood. And the rear of the car was jacked way up, allowing for bigger tires. We stopped walking and stared at the car, which was attempting to look menacing but was failing miserably.

“You know why they do that?” Dad asked.

“No” I replied. I was only seven and had never seen that done to a car.

“It’s ingenuous,” Dad continued, “Since the car is always pointing downhill, it gets better gas mileage.”

By a certain age neither me nor my older sisters would fall for these mental tricks. So Dad was forced to move on to physical pranks. This area was not really his forte — he only had one prank. He usually executed his signature trick at breakfast time, knowing that the early hour and fatigue in his target would aid his deception.

I’d be sitting at the breakfast table with Dad and one of my sisters. When my sister got up and went to the bathroom, Dad would put a finger to his lips, zip around the table, and grab my sister’s bowl of cereal. And then hide it.

Juvenile, low-production-value stuff really. But it always worked. My sister would return to her seat, look down at the empty spot on the table, and just stare for a moment. For two or three seconds she’d wonder if she’d somehow misplaced her bowl.

But Dad had a weakness that allowed the tables to be turned. As Sun Tzu once wrote “the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.” Every morning Dad would walk into the kitchen and open a cabinet, looking for a coffee cup. That cabinet contained only dishes. He’d recognize his error, close the cabinet door, and move two cabinets down to where the coffee cups were stored.

Why a highly-intelligent lawyer would do this every morning is still a matter of minor debate in the family. The mind is strange.

So one day I struck. Dad walked in and opened the door to the wrong cabinet, as usual. And he saw a single cup, sitting atop a pile of plates. He stood for a moment, staring. Had he finally willed a cup to appear? Was this now where the cups were being stored?

Dad said “Huh?” And then grabbed the cup and filled it with coffee.

The next day there was no cup in the wrong cabinet. The day after that, there was one. I’d just sit quietly at the table with a little smirk. As Sun Tzu once wrote “When using our forces, we must seem inactive.”

The cup and me were a small, but effective, force to be reckoned with.

(photo courtesy of Mariodbirdy/Dreamstime.com)

Thomas Sullivan About Thomas Sullivan

Thomas Sullivan is the author of “So Much Time, So Little Change” (a collection of humor essays). He also writes short posts for the humor website HumorOutcasts.com . Please visit his author website at: www.thomassullivanhumor.com

Thomas Sullivan About Thomas Sullivan

Thomas Sullivan is the author of “So Much Time, So Little Change” (a collection of humor essays). He also writes short posts for the humor website HumorOutcasts.com . Please visit his author website at: www.thomassullivanhumor.com

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