|Through the Fence|
|Perfectionists, Pranksters & Possums|
Most folks find comfort in routine. Knowing what to expect helps balance the crazy chaotic moments that are inevitable parts of life. However, some people are so fanatical about their routines they coordinate each step of their day from the big, important tasks down to obscure minutia. Their world is thrown askew if something or someone makes them late or causes them to vary their routine in the slightest. Whatever you call them—anal retentive, perfectionists, meticulous or just downright nuts—they are always predictable.
But the rest of us "normal" people, who fall somewhere in between perfect and totally discombobulated, like a little variety in our lives. Perfectionists help us break the monotony in our humdrum lives because they are the ideal targets for practical jokes. They are so conventional it’s easy to devise elaborate schemes because they’re always so focused on staying on schedule.
My brother’s friend, Sonny, is a perfectionist. My brother, Bob, is a practical joker. Bob used to beat him to an empty parking lot at 5 a.m. at the gym where they worked out, just so he could park in Sonny’s place. It drove him crazy. Dead rattlesnakes mysteriously turned up on several occasions in the exact spot where Sonny showered, dressed or did his floor exercises. He learned to be wide awake and vigilant when he arrived at the gym. Bob dogged his steps throughout much of their workday at the hospital, too. Sonny thought he could relax when he went home at night. He was wrong.
He was living at that time with his grown son, who had probably been tutored by Bob to be a prankster. Sonny followed his exact same routine every night—eating supper and then going to bed—in the nude—at precisely the same time. One evening when his son was coming into the house, he saw a possum waddling up the driveway. Without having a plan, he grabbed it by the tail, shook it real hard until it pouted and tossed it into his truck toolbox. He forgot about it until late that night when he needed something out of the truck. When he got out there, he heard some scratching and scuffling around inside the toolbox and remembered the possum. He opened the lid, grabbed it by the tail and again shook it until it sulked. Then he had a brilliant idea.
He slipped into the back door quietly, still holding the comatose possum by the tail. He eased into poor old Sonny’s room as he lay in blissful slumber. The son raised the bedcovers at the end of the bed and gently laid the possum at his father’s feet and waited for them both to awaken. He didn’t have to wait long. He hit the door running when he heard his dad swearing and knocking over furniture and slamming the door back against the bedroom wall as he made a hasty exit. His dad chased him down the road for a quarter of a mile, buck naked, vowing that if he ever caught him he’d regret pulling that little stunt on his old man.
Finally, winded and sweating, and too tired to stay mad, Sonny slowed down to a trot and then to a walk. His son was trying to hold back the laughter, but knew he deserved any revenge his dad might be plotting. Even though it was the middle of the night, the dad realized he was not properly dressed for an evening stroll, so they rushed back home. Besides, the possum was still on the loose.
Since that prank was so successful and fun, it led to several others. As much as Sonny loved his son, it hastened his plans to get his own place. He could enjoy the security of an ordered environment far away from his son, my brother and other devilish fiends who took advantage of his predictability; he was relatively safe, at least while he was at home.