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Funnelator Fun

Now let us turn to the story of the funnelator. The “funnelator” is a device intended to fire water balloons great distances. I had first heard of this marvelous creation from a friend at Canisius. His group of social undesirables had taken up firing at cars near Buff State and the S-Curves. They actually hit vehicles from the side of the road, right on the door, with high-speed water balloons.

You should be aware of the basic components of a funnelator. You get a few lengths of surgical tubing, double them over, and cut holes in the side of a funnel to create a giant slingshot. Two fools hold the tubes as “posts”, and someone else hauls back on the funnel (holding the water balloon inside), usually to the point of laying on the ground before they let go. The water balloon goes sailing off into the sky – in theory.

In our case, we did a fairly poor job of assembling the funnel from some substandard (or possibly too-thick) surgical tubing and a low-cost funnel. For our first attempt to use it, we decided to fire out of Aaron’s dorm window at Goodyear. Now, any idiot knows that you do not want to be silhouetted with a giant slingshot when stuff comes flying out of a 7th floor window, so naturally this was to be done in complete darkness. Much hilarity ensued as two people leaned against the wall with the “handles” (we had barely built any handles) and the “firer” tried to haul back the funnel containing the balloon. It was all we could do to avoid misfires which would splatter the unfortunate launcher and the floor of the dorm. Furthermore, there really wasn’t that much to shoot at from the dorm window, other than trying to bullseye the top of a van which was about halfway to the other dorm. It proved basically impossible (with our crude device) to get anywhere near the entrance to the other dorm and attract notice from any of the scurrying sheeple there. So, we quickly got bored and decided to fire other objects out the window at high speed. Naturally, most things were too valuable to fire into space, so we took JP’s stuff as our ammunition. A broken up cinder block was promptly hurled to the ground below, along with a mysterious pair of men’s shorts that had been sitting on JP’s side of the room most of the year (I wonder if he ever figured out where this “trophy” went, and also how the former owner got home without pants). I cannot recall what other foul things were fired (old eggs, stale pudding, etc), but I do believe that no one had the nerve to eject the giant jar of Vaseline that was his constant companion.

The homemade funnelator quickly lost its novelty due to its relatively short range and ineffective nature. However, as Christmas or my birthday passed that year, my brother decided to gift me with an actual Funnelator purchased from some catalog of evil devices. This was a bonanza waiting to happen. The “real” Funnelator proved readily able to hurl a water balloon 100 yards or more under ideal conditions. However, we knew that we were pushing our luck by sending objects out of the window where Aaron lived, and we determined to try a more devious plan – drive-by funnelation.

The first “runs” with the funnelator consisted of test runs in Sean’s station wagon. Sean was our getaway driver; we drilled at ejecting from the vehicle, assembling the 3-man firing team, launching, and getting back into the car. I believe at one point we even used a stopwatch to test ourselves. Our first real excursion with the funnelator was fairly gratifying; we took our time selecting likely targets – houses at a corner or end of a dead-end street – then pounding them with a sudden, very loud, water balloon strike. However, the real havoc was yet to come.

After a few test excursions in the family truckster, we were able to upgrade to Matt’s minivan. The minivan was christened the “dropship Unforgiven” and duct tape was placed over the dome light … so as not to expose our faces to our victims. When we had more than 4 people, the funnelator team was supplemented by a handheld “grenadier”: Sean or Dan would run up to the house and simply throw a water balloon against a plate glass window or metal door. On one occasion, the hand-held attack was so loud that our team dropped the balloon and fled immediately. Keep in mind that the victims of these strikes were selected completely at random – “let’s hit that house!”. On another occasion, we fired towards a street on one side of the house and hit the roof dead-on with a resounding boom like a firecracker. Looking down the street, some witness sprinted into their house, presumably to call the police. As we drove away, Dan turned to me and proclaimed “That was incredibly loud – he probably thought we hit that house with a chunk of GRANITE!”

The ultimate funnelator run occurred on the night of the Putt-Putt raid. There was a street which came to a bend (like an “L”) behind the Putt-Putt on Sheridan drive. A stockade fence at the back of the mini-golf course shielded this street from view. The temptation to strike the “center of the universe” became too great and we waited until later in the evening, then pulled up diagonally in the street. Carefully, we aimed the funnelator at the course and let fly. Nothing – not a satisfying scream, a noise, nothing. The silence encouraged us to fire again (despite our usual cowardice and single-shot rule)… a second balloon was loaded and fired. Upward it arced, until it suddenly met resistance in the form of a light fixture over the Putt Putt course. CRASH! The balloon smashed into a live light bulb, shattering the glass, rocking the fixture, and provoking a scream a few seconds later as glass, sparks, and water rained down on the little putting greens.

Needless to say, we were out of there in seconds, having accomplished an attack beyond our wildest imaginings. As we drove away, someone informed us that a lady had been watching the whole thing from her porch. Luckily, she must not have taken down our license plate; but I can only imagine her reaction as the “Unforgiven” deployed its artillery squad and the subsequent chaos which ensued. Matt returned to the scene of the crime in his usual Schultz way the next day and was regaled with the tale of how the whole course had been cleared as people ran inside and someone proclaimed “we’re under attack!”

That was, I think, the last funnelator raid I participated in. Besides marking a crowning achievement which could barely be topped, Larry chose to layer guilt on Aaron and myself. He mocked our delinquent activities and told us we were being evil. I protested that the water balloons were aimed at house roofs, primarily, and likely did no physical damage to anyone. Larry’s retort was: “Imagine if your grandma is laying on her couch and all of a sudden WHAMMMMMM!!! her roof sounds like it is going to cave in. Granny has a heart attack. How would you feel about that?”

Thanks, joykiller Sims.


13 Responses

  1. Why is it that I recall an instance of greater destruction than the Putt-Putt light? I seem to recall a tale of Sean launching something through a plate glass bay window, or was that not a funnelator story?

  2. Well, he did slam a water balloon – by hand – into the front of a plate glass bay window. However, I am not sure that he actually broke it … it is possible; the noise was tremendous. However, it’s also possible that they went on a funnelating run without me, particularly during the “improvised funnelator” period.

  3. This was the same night at Putt-Putt. Earlier in the night the “Unforgiven” pulled up in front of a random house with a large glass front window. The drop-shop disgorged it’s forces/ JP, me, and Louis got into funnelator position. The rest of the team ran to the door with water balloons and the fire extinguisher (Dan). These forces were to wait for 7 seconds (the time we determined through irregular training it took us to prepare the funnelator). Everyone waited in position. Sean, overzealous, immediately hit the middle of the glass front window, and without waiting to see the results the mission was aborted. Some confirmed as we drove away that the window was still intact.

    As far as the killjoy goes, I’m sure we were less destructive than trying to pee down a chimney in Germany, and then almost falling off. We need some Larry stories documented here also.

  4. That description of the “mission” corresponds to my recollection as well. The noise was so loud that we dropped the balloon which was to be loaded into the funnelator. That was not the only time we had an “abort” but it was probably the funniest.

  5. I forget if I have mentioned this, but Dan once tossed a water balloon into the convertible car next to us. Matt saw Dan eying the car (full of jock punks), “Don’t do it Mooney!”. Dan relaxed, until the light turned red. Then he pelted the car, and Schultz took off!

  6. You boneheads! Thanks for putting my full name in this story. I found it randomly on a google search. For reference, the by-hand balloon attack was done specifically because the previous attempt, someone else tried to do it, pitifully, and I had to show them how to do it right. My results were much lounder than anticipated. Also, I do believe that the Putt-Putt mission was the finale of the funnelator attacks.

  7. Fixed. We recently tried to correct any occurrences of first and last name in any of these stories. I just corrected this one. Sorry about that. How’s it going? You are correct, this was the most successful and final funnelator run I recall.

  8. Regarding the incident with Dan and the convertible, did you mean that he waited for the light to turn green, or was Matt forced to run the red light? As far as the funnelator, there was really no conceivable way to top the raid on Putt-Putt so the attraction was greatly lessened.

  9. Dan threw the balloon just as the light turned green. I think he did it just as much to be a jerk to the other car as to freak out Matt and force him to burn out.

  10. Somehow my brother found this by googling my name in an attempt to locate me for facebook. This story just came up at the dining room table for an Easter brunch. Nothing like having your high school hijinx aired to your parents & kids 20 years after the fact.

  11. That’s an amazing google, considering that the two parts of your name are both common and don’t appear in the same sentence anywhere. Nevertheless, I’ll edit to remove all last name references.

    • Thanks, I appreciate it. It could be partly my fault for using Shadowfox as my username here as well. He knows that’s my e-mail address, and he may have added it into a search engine. If nothing else, I re-read this post again and got another laugh over it.

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