A Good Hard Pranking

Although our good friend Monsieur Thies was kind enough to jostle our collective memories regarding some of the jolly fun pranks we played on Jason, being the windbag that I am, thought I would add to the tale. As explained in earlier posts that new readers will have no doubt read in order, Jason had three strikes against him right from the day we moved in. First, in a move that could only be described as moronic, he left for NYC the day before we were to move in and thoughtfully left the keys stacked on the kitchen table for our convenience. Second, he attempted to poison Aaron and my cousin, who already had a deep seated fear about being poisoned, with silica gel laced pizza. Finally, in a move both innocuous and wholly offensive, he dragged one of the stank, funkified moldy mattresses from the dank basement to serve as a bed. This may well have been the source of his distinctive odor, and even if not, it certainly didn’t help.  

            As young men, the instinctive response to an offense, real or perceived, is a show of force. As young college men with a rudimentary understanding of words like ‘actionable’ and ‘culpable’, said show of force was preferably non-violent, within the confines of ‘boys will be boys’, and as devastating as possible. Now in the early days, the siege mentality of living with Oscar the Grouch had not yet set us off edge quite yet and so most actions against Puddles were generally utilitarian, retaliatory, or just for goofs. Most of these did however achieve the desired result of Jason going temporarily spastic, although nothing to the extent of later years.

            The utilitarian actions were just that. We had a situation that needed to be addressed, and if Jason could be irritated in the process, all the better. The primary example of this, as beautifully penned by Aaron, was the grand tradition of piling all movable goods, including furniture, food, and garbage into his room whenever we had a party. As most of these parties were intentionally scheduled for weekends when Jason would be away in NY, there was little resistance to the intrusion. While it was a challenge to fit all and sundry in the sour smelling compartment, we became expert at the task piling everything floor to ceiling. Generally speaking, we had a vested interest in getting everything in there before it could be destroyed by whatever miscreants we chose to invite over, but much less of an interest in pulling everything out after. As a rule, Jason would return and find the room completely inaccessible, and rather than undertake the task himself as the party with the most to gain, would whine at us until we took action. On one occasion we managed to procrastinate for almost a solid week. On the seventh day when I told him I would perhaps get around to it tomorrow, I believe he came the closest to a violent outburst as I had ever seen. The end result was that we moved everything out the following day, which I believe was the same instance as the sugar being spilled on his bed, completely by accident and lacking in intent.

            The retaliatory actions were for specific wrongs we perceived and not for just being himself as the later ones were. In some cases, Jason never even became aware of the action taken against him. I can provide an example most fitting of the situation and his slovenly nature. Jason’s method of doing laundry was to put it in the washer, with or without detergent, set it going and forget about the load all together for a week or two. Naturally the other three of us had laundry as well and would often have to remove Jason’s quietly mildewing items from the washer and place them atop the dryer rather than inside (why spoil a good molding?). At some point, Jason would either recall the items or become tired of recycling the same pair of skivvies day after day and come looking for the load and stick it in the dryer. When it was complete, the appearance would be as if he had begun to remove it, then suddenly ran out of energy or was taken up in the Rapture, for the clothes would be half in and half out the dryer. If we were feeling generous, they would be removed and placed on top; if not, they were scattered about the floor.

            The painful laundry ordeal had one residual effect in that Jason was absolutely unable to get the load upstairs without leaving a graying sock or stained pair of tighty-whities on the floor. Every. Single. Time. Our retaliatory prank to this was to take these items, through employment of a long stick, and throw them into the crypt. The crypt had become unused by we humans and became the de facto cat box as the bona fide one had grown taller than the cat herself in feces. There, in the dark urine soaked hell hole, Jason’s clothes accumulated for months. Suddenly one day Jason came into the living room looking like he struck gold. He related to us that after hearing of our adventures in the crypt all that time ago, he was inspired to crawl in there himself. To his amazement he found that Malice had dragged his clothes in there, amidst the litter box jam. We naturally acted surprised and asked what he did about it. After months in a dirty cat toilet, Jason had added the items back into the wash and wear rotation, hopefully, but not certainly, starting with the former.

            The subject of laundry is relevant as well for pranks we pulled just for kicks. In one instance Aaron and I found Jason’s clothes atop the dryer, perhaps not in the way, but unpleasant to see nonetheless. To appreciate this, one must understand Jason to some degree. Puddles, you see, was a paragon of acting without thinking, and stupidly as well. He is the first to grab the restaurant plate firmly with both hands after being warned how hot it is. He is the first to stick his tongue to the metal lamp post in winter. Had we set rat traps, Jason would have been going to the ER each and every day with damaged fingers. This being the case, any prank that allowed Jason to act without thinking was sure to have hilarious results.

            In this particular instance, we took Jason’s laundry, placed it in a box, and tied the box, open end up, to the basement ceiling. From the box we hung empty glass bottles and I believe some burnt out light bulbs. As any rube can see, this prank is easily thwarted in seconds by a step stool and a pair of scissors. While I was not present for the discovery (we checked on the trap daily and it was weeks before we found the results), the physical evidence told the story in clear pictures. As predicted, upon finding his laundry suspended, his reaction was to immediately jump up and attempt to tear down the box with his hands. What we found was a floor full of broken glass, several of the bottles still hanging from the box, and the box itself semi-torn, but still affixed to the ceiling and full of clothes. He never mentioned the incident to me, and as the box was neatly cut down sometime later, I can only assume that Rai-Ann must have been contacted and employed to resolve the dilemma. I did notice, however, that he sported fresh band-aids for some days after.

            Most of the goof pranks were minor in nature and as Aaron related, consisted of putting garlic powder on his toothbrush (days later, “My toothbrush tastes funny!”), putting his bed into the shower, writing things in condiments on his wall, and locking Matt in his room until he peed on the radiator. One very similar to the hanging laundry was an occasion when we constructed a spider web of duct tape, sticky side out, in the doorway to his room. I performed the construction and escaped the stinky confines by exiting though the window has Jason demonstrated could be done months prior. The victim behaved exactly according to expectation and rather than pushing it down using a broom handle, waded right in, arms flailing, and became very well entangled.

            While the best of the pranks I feel was the April Fool pants ripping melee, a close second is found in our relocation of his personal effects to the basement. One glorious weekend he traveled back to NYC and we did not have a party scheduled (unless it was the Ides of March weekend?). Given the change in circumstances, we decided that instead of moving all belongings into Jason’s room, we would move all them out. Everything. Bit by bit we carried down his bed, dresser, TV, chairs, clothes from the closet, and even the mess on the floor. Directly beneath the room in the cellar, we painstakingly recreated his environs, substituting pipes for the closet clothes bar. On his bed we constructed a scarecrow from what clothes appeared clean enough to handle. We made a happy face for inside the hood, and in a striking bit of generosity, supplied a toilet paper roll as an erection. To complete the picture, we laid one of my Playboys (found in his closet) across the chest and stuffed the hands down the pants. As a final stroke, we locked his bedroom door, put up an eviction notice, and indicated the whereabouts of his belongings.

            Jason apparently arrived in somewhat later than expected that Sunday night and was less than amused at the situation. I felt that in this case we were good sports and helped him carry up the heavier items in reasonable time. He, however, bore somewhat of a grudge and retaliated by taking Knaus’s desk chair and putting it in the crypt. We feared for Jason’s life, but to our astonishment, Knaus declined to seek his accustomed level of nuclear revenge. It may be that he felt bad for Jason, or that no punishment was quite awful enough, or that the plan was so long in range that the sword of Damocles yet hangs above Jason’s unsuspecting head. The last possibility is the most probable.

            It is unfortunate that I must report that my greatest considered prank, my magnum opus of chicanery, never came to fruition. One dark and lonely Saturday in the depths of twilight, inspiration hit like mace upon my skull. Around the room were the ever present trappings of Halloween infinitum – the cobwebs, real and purchased, the jar of evil upon the mantle, the Man With the Golden Hat creepy portrait – but something was missing. A scarecrow! I took a chopped off broom handle and suspended it from the ceiling in the Florida room, and from this, I hung well stuffed clothes in such a fashion that it genuinely appeared as though there was a large hulking figure hunched over in the room, looking malevolently out the front window. It was real enough to give me the creeps and I constructed it. The cat as well, as vile and decrepit as she was, also crept around with nervous trepidation in the things presence.

            The initial effect was good – everyone who entered the joint who did not know of my creation was initially spooked to some degree upon seeing it. My long range plan, however, was of a more fearsome nature. I would wait for months until all had become so used to the thing that it barely registered on their conscious eye. Then one night, when I knew his schedule, I would substitute myself in the scarecrows clothing and take up position. I would allow Jason to enter the room, and before he could sit, I would wheel about and charge him, screaming like a banshee. If the timid lad didn’t expire on the spot, I have no doubt that he would have at the very least shat himself. Perhaps it was best it never came to be, although in my heart I will carry the regret always.

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2 Responses

  1. A few additions to fill in some holes.

    The Crypt was the side of the basement that was almost entirely walled-off, except for a hole just large enough for a person to crawl through. This was the area under the front-porch/Florida room. It was a big mound of uneven dirt. Several times, on a Sunday night, when Knaus had a photog project due the next day, we entered the Crypt and Knaus had me a WOlf dance around and hold strange objects (once it was eating dog food – another story) while he took pictures. One of the finished projects was an experiment in exposure and collage, and aptly titled “Litter Box Jam”.

    As for the cobweb of duct tape over Jason’s door, I thing we also added a sign, “Condemned by Health Department”.

    On last item that definitely needs explanation is Matt being locked in Jason’s room until he peed on the Radiator. I am just going to post that story now.

  2. I don’t remember the crypt being large enough to dance around in and generally remember just squatting on the big mound of dirt and waving around sparklers and other things that would make trails of light. I still have some of the pics and will upload them when I find them. I believe I might have ‘Litter Box Jam’ itself which included a pillar of flame, Malice, and an objectionable Aaron.

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