I participated in a practical joke today, a little thing really, that didn’t result in property damage, legal action or a visit to the doctor. The reason I’m writing about it is that I got the same reaction, nearly word-for-word, from both my mom and from MizBubs:
“No woman would ever do that.”
Here’s what happened. My mom is doing some financial stuff, and my brother John found a guy he knows from work to help her. I went over to her place to be there while the guy (Jim) made his presentation. When we finished, Jim mentioned that my brother is always kidding around with other people in his office. Jim said he was going to have a little fun by calling John and pretending to be lost, almost an hour after the scheduled appointment time. I thought this was a swell idea, and said that I’d go one better—I’d wait until Jim walked out the door, and then call John and tell him Jim hadn’t showed up yet.
My brother John is one of the most generous and conscientious people I’ve ever known. He also worries. He called me, and then my mom, and then me again about 3 or 4 times setting up this appointment. And then last night he called back and double-checked. Twice. Now what’s really cool is, when he gets worked up he swears even better than I do. I mean, epic and colorful swearing. Mom had a concerned look on her face as Jim and I discussed our plan. We shook hands, Jim walked out the door, and I made the first call at :
John: Hi mom, how’d it go?
Me: No, John, it’s me, I’m on mom’s phone. Hey, what time was that appointment, 11 or 12?
Me: Was that guy supposed to be here at 11 or 12? Mom was wondering.
John: What? Jim’s not there?
Me: No, I thought you said 11 but I wasn’t sure. I’ve been here since .
John: Hold on. (papers shuffling, then hold music) I made that appointment for 11. Sonofabitch. He hasn’t called? Shit.
Me: So you’re sure it was for 11?
John: YES I’M SURE. I’ll call you right back. (CLICK. Hangs up)
Mom: Why are you doing this?
Me: Because it’s funny as hell. John’s going nuts right now.
Mom: No woman would ever do something like this. Why do men find this funny?
The phone rang.
John: Joe, you there?
Me: Yeah, what’s up?
John: Listen, Jim says he’s just pulling up by the house, look for him.
Me: So you got hold of him? What’s the deal?
John: I DON’T KNOW. He’s a good guy, ok? Just give him the benefit of a doubt. He knows what he’s doing.
Me: Is there a problem or something?
John: NO. He’s really a good guy, he should be there. Just, uh, give him the benefit of a doubt, ok?
Me: I’m looking out the window, he’s still not here.
John: Fuck. I’ll call you back. (CLICK)
About 5 seconds later:
Jim: (laughing) Hi, Joe, please, call your brother back and tell him I’m there. Please. He’s calling me.
Me: Sure thing. Bye.
Me: Hello, John?
John: Yeah Joe, listen, I don’t know what the f*cking problem is,
Me: (cutting John off) It’s ok, everything’s fine.
Me: Yeah, Jim just left.
John: (Silence) What?
Me: Jim just left. He dropped off a packet of information and a business card and he left, just a minute ago.
Me: Yeah, he introduced himself to mom, dropped off some stuff and then he left. He brought mom a flower, that was nice. Seemed like a nice
John: (cutting me off) WHAT? He’s gone already?
Me: Yeah. Was there supposed to be more than that?
Me: John, everything is fine, Jim got here early, before 11.
Me: Everything’s fine, Jim did a real nice presentation. He got here before 11, and left a few minutes ago. Everything’s fine. I’m just joking with you.
John: FUCK YOU. (CLICK)
I almost fell out laughing. See, what I can’t convey on paper is the rising sense of confusion, followed by panic, followed by anger, which I found totally hilarious. My mom said, in that gentle way that moms have, “I don’t know why you and your brother do that to each other.”
“Because it’s funny.”
I got home and told this story to MizBubs. I started laughing, and she started laughing, and then she pulled herself up and said “you know, no woman would do something like that.”
So what’s the deal? It’s not like there’s some big gap between my sensibility and MizBubs’. One of the first things I came to appreciate about her was that she’d watch Russ Meyer and women’s prison movies with me. And the Three Stooges. And I love Project Runway and craft shows.
I’ve just always enjoyed recreational lying. I get a great thrill out of seeing that stunned look of disbelief on people’s faces when I’ve pulled a whopper. Is that a male thing? Or is it just me and my family? I notice that I seemed to have passed the trait on to my youngest daughter (though MizBubs says she’d only do that kind of stuff to me, not to innocent people.)
I need to get some grant money and study this.