Keeping a visit a surprise after people have already guessed that you’re coming


Last year, a friend of mine who lives out of state—let's call her Lisa—wanted to pay her family in Seattle a surprise visit, and I was enlisted as an accomplice. (Specifically, my rôle was to pick her up from the airport and take her home.) Everything was going smoothly until she made the mistake of telling one of another out-of-state relative about her plans. That relative then told a family member in Seattle, "Don't tell anybody, because it's a secret, but Lisa is making a surprise visit next week."

And that family member told two more family members, "Don't tell anybody, because it's a secret, but Lisa is making a surprise visit next week."

Soon this "secret" was known to half of the family. How do you recover from this?

The solution Lisa employed would not have occurred to me. When a family member who "knew" about her surprise visit called to say, "Hey, I know you're coming," she would naturally act as if nothing of the sort was in the cards. "Where did you get that crazy idea? I just took a vacation a few weeks ago, remember? What do you think the odds are that my boss is going to let me take two week-long vacations in the span of a month?" Fine, everybody would probably think to do that.

But then she sold the deception by calling one of the family members back a few days later. "Hey, it's Lisa. I'm at the front door. Open up, I don't have my key." With a shout of "I knew it!" the family member excitedly rushed to the front door, threw it open, and...

Darkness there and nothing more.

"Ha-ha! Psyche!"

Over the next few days, she repeated this prank on everybody who "knew" that she was coming to visit. In other words, she mocked her family for believing the rumor! (That, to me, was the stroke of brilliance.)

Upon her arrival in Seattle, I took her home, where she stood on the doorstep, took out her mobile phone, and called the house.

"Hey, it's Lisa. I'm at the front door. Open up, I don't have my key."

"Cut it out, Lisa, this isn't funny any more," was the response, followed by a click.

And then Lisa rang the doorbell.

Psyche!

[Raymond is currently away; this message was pre-recorded.]

Comments (16)
  1. steven says:

    I have to say, that was a stroke of genius.

    Last year, I went to visit a friend who lived quite far away for a surprise on her birthday. From the car, I sent her a text message congratulating her and apologising for not being her. 10 minutes later, her doorbell rang.

  2. Josh says:

    Juvenile, but nevertheless awesome. :-)

  3. asdf says:

    Awesome story, but "psyche" (rhymes with Mikey)? We always said "psych" (rhymes with Mike).

  4. John says:

    Yeah, I’ve never heard it pronounced "psyche" by a single person ever.

  5. Michael Pyne says:

    @John, asdf:

    English sucks.  It’s spelled psyche anywhere I’ve ever seen it but always pronounced as if it rhymed with "mike".

    (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=psyche)

    If it helps a word that ends in e tends to be a silent e that makes the preceding vowel sound long (i.e. psych-e -> long ‘i’ sound for the y, just as ‘mike’ is a long-i,silent-e).  But that is kind of bunk since no one pronounces the base "psych" with a short vowel sound, it’s always long-i.

  6. Mike Dunn says:

    Once you’ve seen the great version of The Raven from one of the Simpsons Halloween specials, you’ll never be able to read it without hearing James Earl Jones’s voice.

  7. asdf says:

    @Michael Pyne

    Clearly those urbandictionary lusers can’t spell.

    If you consult a "real" dictionary, you’ll find that "psyche" rhymes with Nike. Even the link Raymond provided gives the two-syllable pronunciation. BUT, and this is the important point, "psyche" does NOT mean "Ha! Fooled ya!"

  8. foo says:

    Funny stuff.  The real kicker would have been if her family decided that she really wasn’t visiting and flew out to where she lives for a surprise visit.  Each arriving to an empty household in the others respective home town…

  9. Mr Cranky says:

    Surprise visits, surprise parties, are highly overrated.  Lots of potential for embarrassment, and other mishaps.

  10. Leo Petr says:

    Words that are pronounced differently depending on meaning are not unknown in English. For example, "I read now" vs "I read yesterday".

  11. John Hughes says:

    > The real kicker would have been if her family decided that she really wasn’t visiting and flew out to where she lives for a surprise visit.  Each arriving to an empty household in the others respective home town… <<

    I think I saw that movie.  Actually, I may have made it.

  12. Ross Bemrose says:

    Leo Petr:  There’s even a term for words like that: heteronyms ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heteronym )

  13. JulianT says:

    Actually apart from the twist in the tale at the end, this story reminds me of the one of the boy that cried wolf………

  14. Hoe verras je iemand (of een hele groep mensen) die niet meer verrast kan worden? Dat lees je hier. In het kort (en het Nederlands)… X wil een verrassingsbezoek brengen aan haar familie in Verwegland. Ze maakt echter de fout van dat tegen Y te z…

  15. If you consult a "real" dictionary, you’ll find that "psyche" rhymes with Nike

    This "real" dictionary disagrees with you:

    http:// dictionary.reference.com/browse/psych

    http:// dictionary.reference.com/browse/psyche

    Psyche, the noun, rhymes with Nike or spiky.

    Psyche, the verb, rhymes with bike.  This is also sometimes spelled "psych".

    Psych, the noun, also rhymes with bike (Psych 101)

    (May be a duplicate comment due to Community Server issues.)

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