Perspectives: Practical jokes, why I still sleep with one eye open

OPINION –TV shows like Candid Camera, Punked, and America’s Funniest Home Videos are strong evidence of humanity’s ongoing love of pranks. But they still can’t compare to the joy of a laugh at the expense of a brother or a sister. Most households have a tale or two of particularly memorable jokes played on family members.

This could include simple tricks like short-sheeting someone’s bed to more elaborate schemes such as immersing a sleeping sibling’s hand in a bowl of warm water to set them back a few years in the bed-wetting department.

But occasionally a practical joke is conceived and hatched that serves to raise the bar of prankdom within a particular family line. This is the tale of one such prank.

At seventeen, I had the misfortune of coming down with a case of full-blown mononucleosis. It took me weeks to recover my strength to where I could resume my normal activities and that left me with a lot of time on my hands.

Late one night as I was trying to get back to sleep, I heard my sister Julie trip over the vacuum cleaner in the darkened hallway just outside of our respective bedrooms. The noise of her knocking over that vacuum cleaner was the prankster equivalent of an apple falling on Sir Isaac Newton’s head and the idea for a particularly innovative trick popped into my head at that moment.

The next day while the rest of my family was going about their daily business, I hauled the vacuum cleaner into my sister’s room and, making sure that it was switched on but unplugged, I carefully placed it underneath her bed.

At this point I should explain that we were dealing with no ordinary vacuum cleaner. This was my mother’s 25-year-old Kirby upright – one of the sturdiest vacuums ever built. It was also one of the loudest vacuum cleaners I’d ever heard. It fired up with a roaring whine that could spook even seasoned aircraft carrier flight-deck crewmen.

With the vacuum securely hidden under Julie’s bed, I carefully strung the cord behind her nightstand, out the door, along the hallway and into my bedroom. By unscrewing the light in our downstairs hallway the resulting darkness made it pretty tough to spot the electrical cord stretching to my room. Now all I had to do was bide my time and wait for my sister to go to sleep.

The next morning I found myself wide-awake at 2 a.m. It was go time.

I slipped from my bed, turned on the light and knelt down by the electrical outlet with the vacuum cord in my hand. I was already giggling in anticipation of what was about to happen.

I plugged in the cord for a couple of seconds then quickly unplugged it. In the other room I could hear the Kirby come alive with its characteristic roar and then just as quickly fade back into silence. In my mind’s eye I could imagine Julie’s eyes fluttering open and her heart pounding as it would when startled from a deep sleep.

At this point I waited.

I wanted to give her just enough time to convince herself that whatever had woken her up was simply a figment of her imagination; a weird dream involving some unexplained sound. About the time I reckoned her heartbeat had begun to slow down to normal, I plugged the vacuum in and let it run for a long spell.

It should be noted that the Kirby upright had a large fabric bag and as the vacuum cleaner ran the bag inflated. To my sister, this meant that in addition to the horrendous noise underneath her bed, it felt as though there was something alive moving around. She was absolutely frozen with fear.

After about 30 seconds of sheer terror, Julie overcame her paralysis and dashed into my room sobbing, “There’s something under my bed!” By now I was so weak with laughter that I couldn’t even stand up let alone speak clearly. So I simply handed her the cord for the vacuum as if to say, “Here, this should fix it.”

With that, I turned off my light and crawled back into bed secure in the knowledge that I’d likely just given Cain a run for his money as the world’s worst brother.

To Julie’s credit, I found the vacuum cleaner under my bed a few days later in an obvious attempt to exact an eye for an eye. But as anyone who has pulled off a serious caper can attest, part of the price of success is dealing with the prospect of payback.

Though it will have been 30 years next summer since the night of the vacuum terror, I still sleep with one eye open. You see, I have children who also love pranks. And history has a tendency to repeat itself.

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!


  • Jeb November 5, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    When I was a boy, couple my friends tried the old shaving cream and feather on me while I was dozing. They were indelicate with their application of the feather, and I awoke in a fright as I was in the middle of a recurring demon-sheep nightmare. Before I realized what was going on, I had shot my friend Burt’s head clean-off. They had to put TImmy in the state institution on account of the trauma. I was acquitted of the manslaughter charge, and it was the right thing.

  • Roy J November 5, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    That just evil,Bryan…evil and brilliant! Woot!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.