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Perhaps I’m getting senile. Or perhaps I no longer have the will to fight. Whatever the explanation for my behaviour, I found myself this week aiding and abetting my grown children in a juvenile, wacky, but oh so much fun prank. You may remember, dear readers, Gill’s plan to make a fish jelly mould (or cake, or tomato aspic) for Crazy D’s birthday. After much consultation, we decided to help her make coloured fish out of ice and put them on our neighbours’ front walks…a mini Sharknado display.

Don’t worry — we picked our victims uh, prankees, carefully. It could not be Mystery Neighbour #1, the as-yet-unidentified jerk, oops, concerned citizen, who goes around reporting minor fence violations and cutting branches off trees to make the point that they overhang the sidewalk, apparently impeding his progress.  I am the Queen of Passive-Aggressive behaviour, but really? You couldn’t just knock on my door and explain nicely that my branches are in the way? Whatever.

We chose our nearest neighbours, ones with small children that we know would appreciate the levity of having red, blue and purple fish sculptures on their front walk. Their delighted shrieks would keep us laughing for days.

And so we assembled the supplies: food color, a large bowl, the fish mould, oil and waxed paper for the cookie tray on which the fish would freeze. The troops were prepared. I manned the door to the deck so we could put the fish out before the cold grip of Arctic air could chill down our house. L’il Sis helped mix the coloured water. Gill poured. We checked on the freezing progress after a few hours. It looked done, so Gill brought the fish inside to make sure. The top layer was indeed frozen but underneath the thin layer of ice was water. “Quick, Ma! Man the door. Fishy has to go outside again. This project is going to take longer than I thought.”

As I pulled open the door Gill, who is wobbly at the best of times, wobbled and spilled some of the water. Blood red droplets covered the deck, making it look like the scene of a brutal murder. Never mind — it might scare away my obese squirrels (the ones stealing all the birdseed)– if they see their own fate writ large in blood. The bright red fish stayed on the deck for the night and, come morning, was a brilliant specimen. Gill brought fishy inside to admire him and ‘decant’ it from the mould in preparation for Fish # 2. It very quickly began to melt. “Quick, Ma! The door! It’s getting mushy.” Out went the fish again. She poured in the water for the second fish.At this rate, it was going to take two weeks to complete our prank.

But Gill is nothing if not persistent when she has a good project. Two days later, we had six fish — blue, yellow and red. Magnificent specimens! (I suspect that Gill was almost ready to cancel her ticket back to the UK to give her more time to make a larger ‘school’ of scaly beauties.)

Gill and L’il Sis plotted out the placement on the neighbour’s lawn. L’il Sis pointed out that, to be believable as a school of fish that had just found themselves beached in the burbs mid-winter, there could be no telltale footprints surrounding them. So Gill, ever the innovator, returned from the garage with the ice chipper — a long-handled tool with a flat blade capable of carrying a fish and depositing it on the lawn, leaving no evidence. All three of us  crept over and did the deed. We rang the doorbell to alert the neighbours of the strange invasion of fish on their lawn. No answer.

“Oh, even better that they’re not home!” Gill giggled. They’ll drive up and the sight will be a complete, fantastic surprise.”

A mere fifteen minutes later, Gill was peering out the window (no stalking here, folks!)and saw them drive in. They got out of the car and walked to the fence, taking in the brightly coloured ice fish. They turned the direction of our house. Are we THAT predictable?

Moments later, they appeared at our door, broad smiles covering their faces. “You saved our otherwise miserable day!” they exclaimed. Seems they had just returned from a trip to the Toronto airport to straighten out some glitch with the woman’s Nexus card.She had arrived home from the U.S. the night before and had to return to deal with the error. They were tired, cranky, and fed up. Enter the fish!

So I guess the moral of the story is, never turn down the chance to do a fun prank. You may be doing someone a big favour and, if you need help, just call Gill. She’s always up for it.

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