As kids, my brother and I had this strange desire to scare (startle) each other, as often as possible, in new and funny ways. I think it’s a genetic thing; our granddaddy was big on scaring people. But I think it must skip generations, because I don’t remember our dad being particularly interested in scaring us, and my boys don’t like to be startled.
Our granddaddy would poke us with his finger and make a sound with his lips — a sound I can’t think of how to describe in writing — to make us jump and scream. The start always made us, and anyone watching, laugh.
I remember standing with my dad beside my grandaddy’s casket, looking down on his still form. I whispered to Dad, “I almost expect him to open his eyes and poke us to scare us.” My dad laughed and agreed.
Anyway, so my brother and I were in a constant state of scare war. We might go months without a good scare on one or the other, but there was never a formal truce. The delay was all part of the set up.
Off the top of my head, right now, I can remember twice that I really scared him, and once that he really scared me, but I know there were many other attacks.
I once hid in his room, between his bed and the back wall for over an hour waiting for him to come to bed for the night. (He was around 8 or 9 years old.) Eventually he came into his room. He put on his pajamas, turned out the light, and got under his covers. After a couple minutes, I reached up from behind his bed and grabbed him. Oh God! He jumped and screamed like a professional horror movie actress.
Another time I scared him was a pure scare of opportunity — I needed no preparation. He was watching a scary movie late at night (after 11:00 — he was probably 11 or 12 years old), sitting cross-legged on the floor about 3 feet from the console TV. The whole house was dark, and he was totally engrossed with the movie. I picked up a toy rubber aligator (about 8-10 inches long), snuck up the hall and tossed it at my brother. The little lizard plopped perfectly right down on his lap. Oh, the jump and scream — pure entertainment for a teenage big brother.
But if I’m remembering correctly, my little brother got the last scare and laugh on me. I was in my bedroom with the door closed, minding my own business. A light knock on my door brought me to open it.
My brother had acquired a family Halloween decoration: a posable life-sized skeleton. When I opened the door, he wiggled the skeleton and made some noise. The flailing bones, the evilly grinning skull, and the moan or whatever sound, startled the T-total Hell out of me. I screamed and jump backwards all the way across my room.
Life’s evolution had me moving out of home soon after that, so my brother and I really didn’t have any other opportunities to scare one another since then. I kind of miss the whole scare war. Cowgrit is easy to startle, and she doesn’t like to be. My boys get very angry with me if I scare them. It seems that I’m going to have to wait till my boys have children of their own (to pass on that generation skipping gene) for me to be able to have appreciative targets for terror.