Mom is one of the jumpiest people I have ever known. The silliest things scare her, like her phone vibrating against her leg, or someone sneezing, or even just someone moving their hand a bit. The funniest thing, though, is her reaction to being scared. Sometimes she screams, which is normal, I suppose, but Mom is not normal. Frequently, rather than a scream escaping her lips, some weird, baby-talk language comes tripping out instead. Something like, abbububadabooboo. Accompanying this strange, impulsive language, are equally strange hand movements, usually twisted limbs thrown at odd angles. The combination of peculiar words and unusual hand and arm gestures makes her look pretty silly.
Sometimes innocent people are victims of Mom’s uncontrolled scare reactions. Like the poor salesman who naively approached her front door at the wrong moment. He raised his hand to ring the bell at the exact moment that Mom whipped open the door, rushing to an appointment. Seeing the stranger standing right in front of her startled her so much that she screamed and swung her purse at him, smacking him good.
Quickly ducking and backing away, the salesman whined, “Okay, okay, Lady. Sorry I bothered you!”
After recovering from her fright, Mom saw the humor in the situation, and started giggling as the unwanted visitor left. “Well,” she thought, “that’s one way of getting rid of a salesman!”
Usually the victim of Mom’s swinging arms is not so innocent. Dad loves to stand right up close to Mom and blow a puff of air in her face. Mom jumps, and Dad almost always gets hit on the chest or arm, but that doesn’t deter him. He just laughs, as Mom whacks him one more time (on purpose the second time), just for good measure.
I must confess that my entire family takes morbid pleasure in devising various ways to get a good reaction out of her. We have made an art form out of scaring Mom.
My favorite scare happened when I was a young teenager. I couldn’t fall asleep one night, and finally, around 1:00 am, I figured I might as well go downstairs and join Mom (aka: Nightowl). Mom was folding laundry while watching a horror movie on TV and talking with her mother on the phone. Ever alert for an opportunity to scare Mom, I now saw a great one. Mom had just walked into the kitchen, leaving the pile of laundry unattended.
I snuck out the front door and came back in through the laundry room at the back. While Mom was in the kitchen, I dug under all the clothes on the couch, huddled into a little ball (I was small for my age at the time), and piled all the clothes back on top of myself. I was completely concealed.
Mom returned to the laundry and unwittingly sat right next to me. As she casually folded the clothes, chatting with her mother, I waited for the perfect moment. Mom was still watching the horror movie, which I had seen before, so I knew a scary part was coming. With a precision born of practice, I rose out of the laundry at the climax of the scary movie, growling in the most frightening way I could.
Success! Mom screamed at the top of her lungs for what seemed an eternity. I felt a little sorry for my grandma who was on the other end of the phone and received the full impact of the scream in her ear, but it was worth it. I got Mom good!
Now, Dad is a really light sleeper, and we were in the room directly under him, but he never came down to see if everything was okay. Mom had just screamed like someone was murdering her, and it didn’t bother Dad one bit. After all, a death scream at 1:00 am was just par for the course in living with Silly Mom.