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“No Hand, I Swear!”

The first time I saw the "fake limb" prank, New York State, 2011
The first time I saw the “fake limb” prank, New York State, 2011

This is the sentence I repeat twenty times a day, with as much conviction as I can muster and without a hint of annoyance in my voice: “No, there is no hand.”

I haven’t gone completely mad, I swear.

Here is the backstory.

On October 30, Feng and I were scrambling to find a Halloween costume for Mark. I had been sick all week and I didn’t have the chance to plan ahead. So while I was looking for last year’s pirate hat in the closet, Feng drove to Dollarama to buy a few accessories.

Later in the day, when I stepped out of the house, I stopped dead in front of our car, parked on the driveway, and I started laughing. As a Halloween joke, Feng had bought one of these fake arms that stick out of the trunk of the car. It looks pretty realistic too. The first time I saw a similar fake limb hanging out of a car was in the USA, in 2011, and it had actually scared me for a second or two. Eh, you never know with these Americans!

A few hours later, when we drove to Mark’s school to pick him up, we completely forgot the arm was still sticking out of the trunk. I was walking him to the car when he froze a few feet away, and quickly hid behind my legs.

I immediately understood what he had noticed.

“It’s not real Mark, it’s for Halloween!”

Feng brought the arm for him to look at it, but the poor kid was so scared he was shaking. He refused to move, visibly disturbed.

I pick him up to comfort him and we made a big deal of getting rid of the arm—we had Mark close his eyes, and Feng quickly hid the limb in the truck.

“See, no more hand! All gone!”

That night, we walked from home to home, trick-or-treating, and even though Mark was scared by a few props, he handled Halloween very well.

I thought it was the end of it.

The following day, Mark had to inspect the entire car himself before getting in. “Hand?” “No hand, Mark, it’s gone.”

We had to do the same routine all week long.

Honestly, I didn’t know he was going to be scared. I wasn’t expecting him to recognize it was an arm with a hand, and to appreciate how “disturbing” the prank was. I was wrong, obviously.

It’s been almost a month now, and every time we take the car, Mark asks: “hand there?” And if we walk across a parking lot, he inspects all the trunks very carefully for “hands”.

Mark isn’t a fearful kid, but he is very vocal about the things he is scared of, including Santa Claus at the mall, nail clippers (“it hurts!” he claims) and… well, fake limbs. “Pa!” he says in Chinese. “Scared!” I respect that, so we just move on (and save money on Santa pictures…).

I just hope that, one of these days, we will be able to stop inspecting the trunk before every car trip!

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