One of the things I must admit I enjoy to the chagrin of friends and my husband is scaring people. I haven’t always enjoyed this activity. I learned the joy of startling others because of the person who taught me the meaning of joy – Ed. Although I consider this activity bad behavior, I nonetheless enjoy watching the reactions. The first time I scared Ed was in our apartment in Germany right after we moved in together. I had worked late and, when I got home, Ed was preparing dinner. He didn’t hear me enter so I walked up behind him and said “boo”. Ed reacted with a full blown conniption fit and became angry telling me he almost fell in the oven. Being the kind of person Ed is his anger is loud but very short lived. This caused an unsympathetic response on my part including full throated laughter. I don’t know if they have gotten any larger, but thirty years ago, ovens in Europe were tiny little things and his shoulders were too broad to fit in the opening. The chance of his falling in was impossible. That is the point I recognized my appreciation for producing the “fight or flight” response in others. Helping me in this pursuit of joy is my weird ability to walk without making a sound (my feet don’t shuffle, my pockets don’t rattle and my clothing doesn’t make friction noises). My favorite technique I call Stand In Place. This is a very simply way to surprise people and gives you plausible deniability. The simplest example is walking up behind someone and remain completely quiet. When the person turns around and sees you the fun begins. Their response will range from completely losing it (the person will simultaneously jump off the floor, wave their arms and make loud noises) to the catatonic state (for a couple of moments the person just shuts down until their instinct tells them they’re safe). My preference is for the “losing it” reaction. The full catatonic state gives you little response I actually find it a little creepy. An after dark deviation to the Stand In Place is quietly go to a dark room or closet you know you’re target will soon be needing. Simply stand in the room without making a noise. When your friend or loved one turns on the light and suddenly sees you the reactions are immediate. A variation on the Stand In Place is to quietly walk up behind someone without their knowledge and firmly grasp their arm or shoulder. You will find out how high they can jump. The advantage with the Stand In Place technique is that you can immediately apologize and feign surprise that your target didn’t hear you. The Loud Noise technique is the easiest to perform but is the hardest to deny. The most familiar Loud Noise method is to quietly walk up behind someone and make a loud noise (speak with volume or drop something heavy). There are several deviations of this technique you may find useful. If you are in a quiet space – say you and your spouse are quietly reading books – you simply yell or make a loud noise and you will find you will achieve the desired response. I met a man on a recent vacation who said he hides under the bed so he can scare his wife by reaching out and grabbing her ankle. I have never gone this far but that’s only because the space under a bed has seemed like a scary space since I am a child. In my younger years I believed monsters lived under the bed. I don’t believe that any longer but why take any chances?