Centipede My Pants / by Courtney Mehlhaff

I've always gotten along pretty well with my sister. We never really fought over anything serious, and we generally enjoyed playing together most of the time. 

But she's three years younger than me, so there was some room for practical jokes.

Or so I'm told. I don't recall messing with her very often, but evidently I convincingly sold her some untruths. She remembers three big lies: 1) That if she honked the car horn, the cops would come. 2) That if she pressed the red button on the VCR, it would blow up. 3) That if she got water on the bathroom tiles, they would crash down.

All in all, pretty benign . . . unless you were intent on avoiding a panic attack when getting clean or recording your favorite TV show. But nothing lastingly damaging or very clever.

We both still talk about the one time I managed to pull a truly great prank on her. When we were in high school, we got a small allowance for cleaning the house every week. Of course we would wait until the very last minute before our parents got home to dust and vacuum and tidy up, so it usually involved rushing around in a frenzy with Windex and Pledge.

Now, I also worked at a drugstore at the time, and I'd happened across a new product in the toy section: super realistic-looking rubber insects. So I bought an enormous fake centipede.

The next week, as we started our chores, I snuck into the basement bathroom and carefully placed the rubber bug in the shower. As we hurried to finish on time, I shouted a reminder that it was her turn to clean that room.

After she entered the bathroom, I heard general spritzing and clattering. I heard the shower curtain being pulled back. There was a short pause, and then a bloodcurdling scream.

When she came racing into the living room, I acted very concerned about what had spooked her.

"What?!" I said. "Hang on, I'll check it out."

I disappeared into the bathroom and gave an appropriate exclamation of horror. I suppose I could have stopped there, or emerged simply holding the bug, or chased her around the house with it. But I did not stop there.

I reappeared with the centipede hanging out of my mouth. For added effect, I growled ferociously and shook it back and forth.

As long as I live, I'll never forget the look of horror on her face, or how wide her eyes were. She nearly soiled herself out of shock, and I nearly did the same laughing.

It's amazing what you can do with a dollar and a little ingenuity. She might say a little evil, but I'm going with ingenuity.