I was talking with my brother-in-law recently about childhood pranks. Some kids get a kick out of doing real harm — hmmm.
That got me thinking about the few pranks I had pulled as a child. The worst I remember (of course you never know when selective memory is kicking in) was on my sister Linda, when I was probably about ten years old. The whole family was watching TV, and she was up front, in a big black wooden rocking chair. Occasionally she jumped up to adjust the volume on the TV, and it seemed to me that she was just backing up and plopping down in the chair without turning around to look or feeling for the arm, that she was just retracing her steps backwards.
I felt a need to verify that hypothesis. So quick as a bunny I pulled the rocking chair back 3 feet — on the carpet it made very little noise. Sure enough, she took two steps back and sat down in the chair that was no longer there. Landed right on her tailbone — ouch! Everyone else, including our parents, just sat there and watched the whole thing with a chuckle. The weird thing is that while part of the draw was the prank aspect, I was really very curious — it seemed like an interesting experiment. I’m pretty sure Linda didn’t see it that way.
That was probably the highlight of my scientific career.