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  • Kristan Higgins

Happy times

Updated: May 3, 2022


We love to scare each other in my family. It’s how we show love. Hugging, pah. Anyone can hug.

My mom and her youngest brother excel at this. Mom was 21 when Paul was born; my grandmother was pregnant when my parents got married; there are seven kids between Mom and Paul. Catholics, what can I say?

Anyway, my uncle has lived with my mom a few times over the years, and they love nothing more than to scare the living daylights out of each other. It started innocently—just the run-of-the-mill jumping out of closets kind of thing.

Pretty much this guy

Pretty much this guy

One year, I was sharing a house with a set decorator from Yale, and he had a corpse from a play—a hideous, desiccated thing made out of plaster and Styrofoam. “Can I borrow that?” I asked the second my housemate brought it home.

Thus it was that I buckled it into the passenger seat and drove it to my dear mother’s house, put it in her pantry and waited for the screams. Oh, it was so satisfying, dear reader! When my mother’s heart attack was over, she said, “Let’s put it in Paul’s room!” Dear Uncle was in the shower at the moment, so we raced upstairs, stowed the corpse and waited.

Note: Grown men can sound like little children when they find corpses in their beds.

Anyway, Paul waited for his revenge. One day, my mom asked him to collect some the dog’s stool sample for our Irish setter’s annual physical. When she came home from work, she asked if Paul had done the job. “Yep,” Paul said. “Got it right here.”

You can see where this is going, can't you?

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

What Mom didn’t know was that Paul, being a creative type, had half-melted a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in the microwave and put it in a trusty plastic container with a lid.

“Want to see?” Paul asked.

“No,” said Mom.

But he opened the container and pretended to drop the “sample” on the floor. “Oh, Paul!” Mom exclaimed.

Then her words turned to screams as my uncle grabbed the brown thing on the floor and popped it in his mouth.

Because that’s how we roll in this family.


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