It was almost a ritual. Everyday, I would come home to find an ice cold glass of milk on the counter as a refreshment after school. I was in 2nd grade and my favorite toy at the time was something called a crazy straw. Now, to those that do not know what one is, imagine a scribble on paper made into a 3 dimensional image, then into a straw. Drinking ice cold milk from one of those, as a kid, was fun.  So, as usual, I came home from school to find an ice cold glass of milk on the counter with my crazy straw in it. So, I took a big swig through my straw, and to my surprise, it was buttermilk. My mother was watching from another room. She had played a nasty little practical joke on me. You see, not only was I surprised with the buttermilk, but it clogged my straw. I was never able to use the straw again. Thus started the great practical joke war that has lasted many years.

I had to retaliate of course, so I washed the dishes and put them away. Oh, did I mention that I stacked the bowls right side up and filled the top bowl with water so when my mom reached in to get the bowl, it would tip and douse her with water? Or that my father, wanting me to know how to shut off the hot water from the hot water heater in case of an emergency, so I waited for my mom to take a shower and wham-mo!, I shut off the hot water. The screams emanating from the bathroom was a shear delight.

But, my mother, not letting me get the upper hand, short sheet-ed my bed, would blow a whistle at 5:00 AM in the morning, or a bevy of other nasty little things that would precipitate a retaliation more creative.

Well, years went past and it was time for my birthday. I was married with kids and she had made arrangements for a birthday celebration at her house. She made a cake and decorated it, and I knew that she had had an ant problem at her house earlier in the summer. I stopped by a novelty shop and picked up a bag of fake black ants. When no one was in the kitchen, I placed the antsin a two line progression from her kitchen window sill to the cake, up the side and down back to the window sill. I left the kitchen and awaited the symphony of screams where I would come in and laugh and let her in on the joke. Well, I did hear the cacophony of screams and then a hissing. By the time I had run to the kitchen, my joke had backfired on me. You see, she had really thought those were real ants. She was spraying my cake with Raid ant and roach spray. Needless to say, nobody got cake that day.

My mother, called me several years later to complain that those ants got her again. You see, when she cleaned up the mess from that birthday calamity, she stored the ants in a high place with the intent that she would give them to me as a souvenir. Well, she forgot. Several years later, she was cleaning up and knocked those ants down on her. She had totally forgotten about them and was startled by the avalanche of ants.

We kind of stopped the practical joke at that time. But the memories are still there to give us both a good chuckle every once and awhile. You see, everybody need to foster a good sense of humor. Someone that does not see the humor in life sometimes is just plain dull. Those little practical jokes helped bring the family together. And to laugh at them so many years later brings back those feelings of closeness and camaraderie.

God has a sense of humor. Life is full of examples. Learn to laugh. Enjoy life. God does not want us to exist, but to live, laugh and love.

So, in the end, IT WAS HER FAULT. I still miss my crazy straw.

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