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A few weeks ago I pulled a prank on my parents and it went just about as wonderfully as I could have imagined. Here is the background that you need to know in order to fully understand what went down.

About 8 months ago my parents knocked down the house they’d been living in for 35 years. Now, this is the house I grew up in with my 5 brothers and sisters and after having a good run, it was well past time for the house to be updated. The electricity that was functional (not all rooms had it) was ancient, the water in the showers heated to a temperature that can be genero

Mom and Dad pre-demolition

Mom and Dad pre-demolition.

usly described as tepid and walking from the living room to the kitchen meant a gradual uphill climb, followed by a sharp descent on what should have been a level floor. So my mom hired an architect, had the home leveled and built anew.  Keep in mind that my hometown is an urban area about 15 miles from Manhattan.


Her new place is beautiful. Windows actually keep cold air out. When it rains outdoors, the indoor doesn’t follow suit and my mom finally has the beautiful kitchen she’s been dreaming of (that’s not misogynistic, it’s what she wanted).

Well, it was finally one week until the move in date. Mom and Dad had been staying with my brother Brendan across town, which I’m sure only enhanced romantic life with his girlfriend. “Hey babe, want to come upstairs and snuggle? My mom can cook us a roast!”

I was going to fly in to NY to assist with the move, which was to begin on a Friday (I live in CA now). However, before I left I wrote a letter to my mom that would ensure a brief spurt of pandemonium. I had a good friend who works in the building department of my hometown help me create legitimate looking letterhead. He then mailed it for me in the official City Of Long Beach envelopes, which come out of City Hall. Here is the letter my mom received 2 days before move in:


Now, despite knowing me for 36 years, my mom didn’t suspect that this was my handiwork or the work of any one of my siblings (who all knew about the prank in advance). My sister Coleen even had the foresight to warn the contractor to expect a frantic call from my mom.

The first indication that my parents had received the letter was this voicemail that I got from her:

“Patrick, do you know anything about Bees? I need help!”

Subsequent phone calls had her proclaiming these gems to me:

“What the F… are they CRAZY??” I am moving into my new house!”

“As if I had five acres of land…. I can understand if I was living in Montana!!”

“I’m going to go down there and say ‘Do you have rocks in your head?? Who wants bees in this town??”

“I can’t believe they would pass a law like this!!!”

“Maybe I can sell honey. Long Beach will probably fine me for selling honey though.”


Well, I left early the next morning for my flight to NY. When I landed I had a few voice-mails from my friend in City Hall. It turns out that my mom didn’t just email the address that I had created, but instead made a series of outraged phone calls to City Hall and spoke with bewildered City Hall employees who probably think she’s a complete nut job now. My brother was savvy enough to have her make one phone call on speakerphone and he recorded it!!! Here’s the video:

Luckily my brother and sister let her in on what was happening before she stormed City Hall with pitchforks and torches. They are now settled into the new house that we have dubbed “The Hive”. As payback to me, she (a TSA employee mind you) stuffed my carry on bag with all sorts of metal surprises I didn’t know about including Christmas Bells, cans of beans and a corkscrew with knife attachment that almost bought me a strip search and a free colonoscopy at JFK. She’s the best.