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Pranked Hard

           Just as it was back in the old glory days of Comstock, the tradition of mostly male societies to prank each other as often as possible proved true at old Langley as well. Perhaps we didn’t have an adversary quite as universally disliked at Thirsty, but there were more than enough individuals who were well worth irritating those times that the convenient circumstances proved right. None of you should be surprised that I fell into that category more than once; the price of my cockiness I assume. My ‘Mighty Wolf’ moniker on this site was derived from the fact that I had the same stenciled on my locker and told everyone Charlie Ahlm had put it there in awe. Probably one of the reasons he was out to get me by the end.

      Kervina was the first to tweak my oysters in such a manner when I was still a new airman and had some kind of vague concern about the status of my record file that now exists likely in a mislabeled box in same warehouse of the Ark of the Covenant; forgotten unless I file suit or some other such silliness. One evening I had obtained permission to come in 2 hours late for some reason or another – probably to make up for one of those dreaded 3:00 PM appointments they liked to torture us mid-shifters with; our equivalent for all intents and purposes to 3:00 AM. In any event, I came in at the previously agreed upon time to find a very serious looking Kervina.

      He summoned me to the back office for a ‘discussion’ to my confusion. He accused me of dereliction of duty and being Away Without Leave. Devastating charges to a new career and then produced an official Letter of Reprimand; the military equivalent to being issued an official warning and absolute death to any idea of early promotion. Recall that up until then I was Teflon my whole life and the only member of our St Joe’s graduating class to never once gotten detention; a distinction even freaks and geeks like Knaus and Louis could not boast. I was enraged! How could this bald pustule of worthlessness foist such an accusation upon me? Every morning I watched this cretin disappear around the bend to spread ‘em for the deep fisting Charlie had in store for him. Was it to be taken out on me that he walked funny for the remainder of the day?

      Keeping in mind the deep admonition to not verbally or otherwise assault those of superior rank, I withheld my fury to some degree in forming my rebuttal that despite my sweetest efforts still managed to come out sarcastically insulting. He of course made clumsy attempts to flip the blame back to me and finally pulled the ‘because I said so’ rank card. I don’t remember the moments after that but I was told I rose with a scarlet red face and fists a clenched. At that point Kervina demonstrated uncharacteristic wisdom and called the rest of the gag off. He and Bissell had concocted the whole thing to get my goat and had originally intended on keeping it going though the night and were going to plaster photocopies of the thing around the shop and get the shop chief in on it to give me a good dressing down in the morning. Pricks. I still say Kervina was lucky his fear of my reaction caused him to abort as a Knausian level retaliation would have been mandatory for the affront.

         While general hazing of new airmen fell out of practice for the most part, we did send the occasional new recruit on a wild goose chase or two if it seemed like a good laugh to do so. I remember Diana hunting though the shop for I think a concrete light bulb (less breakable) being somewhat unsure if Wagar was pulling her leg or not. I had the opportunity to do this myself and set Grigsby as my target. You will remember him from my Saudi stories if you bothered to read them. When he first arrived, however, he was timid and shy and desperate to make a good impression.

      At the time I was still hanging out with Carrie Pierce a lot and she worked over at the Supply shop. Also at the time our usual shop was being remodeled so we were instead quartered in an old NASA wind tunnel about a mile from the flight line and Supply Shop. On a cold and windy day soon after he arrived I thought it might be great fun to send Grigs over to Supply to get me a traveling wave tube extractor, which as you have guessed if not completely clueless, does not exist. He didn’t have a car, so headed off on foot, giving me enough time to call Carrie and let her know he was coming, and to claim she had the item but the paperwork was wrong and that no, he could not use the phone if he asked.

      He arrived back to me 45 minutes later, windblown and annoyed. I of course acted considerably more annoyed, cursed loudly, made a minor adjustment to the paperwork and sent him back out on foot. This time Carrie pointed out that the change had not been initialed by me and sent him back. He was pretty pissed by the time he got back, but I outdid him ranting about the supply fools and kicking things about in mock tantrum. I cowed him into going back out yet again with an admonition not to come back without the damn thing or so help me. This time Carrie got her supervisor in on it and together they told him he already had two chances to get it right, so no, he couldn’t have it. Sorry. He begged them use the phone and they refused.

      Tail between his legs he slumped back in, now wet as it had started raining, and admitted failure. “That’s all right man; I was just fucking with you anyway”. Surprisingly, he failed to see the great humor in the situation. Perhaps it was his spiritual abhorrence to being deceived or maybe having to work on live electronics damp in a very chilly shop for the rest of the day. Who knows, but afterward he often expressed a deep desire to get out of the Air Force, especially after Kyle took to playing an unwelcome game of grab-ass with him.

      They got me again when I was in Saudi. It might have been Bryan’s retaliation for the beer trap, but I think the idea was Kent’s. I periodically called back to the apartment to see how things were and he liked to torture me by tapping a beer bottle against the receiver and going on about how damn good it tasted. I was already somewhat annoyed with him as he admitted to never starting my Camero, Dr. Doom, up even once yet while I was gone; making claim that the key I left him didn’t work. I think in truth it was revenge for my using his truck exclusively while he was away due to my ride reeking of spoiled milk. He seemed to hold it against me that he came back finding it with but a tablespoon of gas and no windshield wiper fluid. He always was the picky sort.

      I got him on the phone one day near the end of the rotation and he hemmed and hawed for a bit, then finally handed the phone over to Kent to break the bad news. Kent told me that they just pulled into the parking lot and found Dr. Doom up on blocks with all the tires stolen. My brand new tires that I just bought a couple of months before departing and that cost me near a months pay. This was entirely plausible considering that we lived in a neighborhood that catered to those being paid wages slightly less than welfare and such that something like tires could account for 10% of the annual budget.

      I was absolutely livid! As you can tell from previous stories that this was not entirely uncommon for me during these years given my utter frustration with military life and my personal life even more so. Kent had the gall to laugh aloud at my reaction causing me to spasm in belligerent fury. It had been a bad enough night already with Tiffany off and having opened an MRE earlier that was booby trapped with the dreaded omelet. I demanded he put Bryan back on the phone and I proceeded to light into him like Doberman on a guy wearing meat pants. I accused him of deliberate malfeasance, never even pausing to look the word up, and got considerably accusatory. He didn’t care; he was drunk and had me on speaker phone, allowing the partiers to chuckle at my overblown rant, summoning shades of Costanza. It was all a put up of course although I refused to truly believe it until I beheld my beloved stinking piece of shit a few weeks later. I stopped calling after that.

      Bryan and I actually got along surprisingly well as roommates. It helped that we were on separate shifts and we probably would have rode out the lease on good terms had the gals not had their falling out, but that is a tale for another day. Being a good roommate, however, did not exempt him from being needled now and again with my compulsion to poke at anyone unlucky enough to cohabitate with me. I might also add that he, along with every other roommate I’ve ever had, “somehow” ended up with the small room in the apartment. He was in good company with Aaron, Thirsty, Bell, and Travis.

      Bryan tended to like things just so, much like Aaron, and so every once in a while I enjoyed making them no so. Just a little flick on the ear that he should remember who he was stuck with. One of the things I liked to do was to record new and interesting greetings on the answering machine. Most were innocuous, some were very long (a condition those determined to leave a message really despise), and a few aimed directly at pissing him off. My best creation was a little rap ditty I performed with my Ecco-Mike (a toy I still possess) to the tune of ‘Baby Got Back’. “My name be Bryan Bray, and here’s what I do say! I likes big butts an I cannot lie….” and so on for most of the tape length. He really didn’t like that one, nor did his mother who was the first to walk into that trap.

      He was also somewhat particular about the décor of the place and I sought for a long time to find just the right thing that he would truly detest. Though one would think black velvet paintings of sad clowns, the fat version of Elvis, or a puppy with big eyes would be ubiquitous in the south, I couldn’t for the life of me find one. Harley managed to find a large banner with dogs playing poker, much to Tiffany’s regret, but he refused to part with this tackiest of creations. One day while going about to the garage sales with Tiffany and Tim Kyle, I found the perfect item in a moth eaten mounted deer head.

      The deer head was a great item to irritate Bryan in its own right, but I felt it needed just a little something extra. I named him Jack and hung him above the dining room table, directly facing the couch where Bryan liked to sit to watch TV. Jack looked naked to me in just his fur, so I dressed him in one of my dress blues uniform shirt, a blue AF tie and flight cap. To round things out I added a pair of old sun glasses and glued a cigarette dangling from his lips. I ran into Bryan a while after he came home sitting on the couch looking dejected. “Dude, I thought for sure I had the wrong apartment, but now that you’re here, I guess not” I claimed to be very enamored of my find and refused to take it down. I would often come home to find a large beach towel over Jack and Bryan finally admitted that having Jack stare him down as he sat there “really creeped him out”. Travis had the same reaction when he moved in and Jack ended up taking an honored place at the dinner table. I must include a picture of this.

      Jack met his final fate in my last prank to the shop. While I offered to leave him for Travis to remember me by, he was by then so fearful of Jack’s fierce and relentless gaze that he wished anything but. On my last night on mids Travis and I brought Jack in the trunk of my car to the shop, where we snuck him in during the middle of the night for the purposes of anonymity. We broke into the shop chief’s office and hung the thing, still dressed in AF garb and smoking, above his desk. Chuba never said a single word about it when he came in and when I came back to visit a few months later, though defrocked and having kicked the filthy habit, it still hung there proudly.

      Pranks inside the shop were somewhat routine and consisted of a lot of the standard office stuff. Once in a while everyone would get an explicit love letter from someone or another and we all knew they had forgotten to log out of their email after getting up from one of the common computers. A time honored traditional prank was to capture the hat of someone in charge, immerse it in water, then freeze it. Since it was forbidden travel out of doors without a ‘cover’, the idea was that the wearer would be forced to go to their car or lunch with a very chilly head. Chiefs took this happening to be a perverse mark of respect but wisely kept a spare hidden somewhere just in case.

      Before moving on to the real story, it should be mentioned that daring to expose one’s uncovered pate to the open sky was considered akin to tracking pig shit though a mosque; an affront to God and man alike and a candidate for vengeance from each. One day at the chow hall I became suspicious that Roger Sealey had hidden my own hat as a prank (well deserved revenge I admit for I liked to write stories about him in the log book that he felt were gross lies), so took his own had and headed back to the shop. As it turned out, Roger was innocent and someone else had grabbed my hat. He was then forced to make it back on foot from the chow hall all the way to the shop coverless; a condition apparently pointed out by every single person he encountered, to include many of high rank who bitterly rebuked him for it. I got a good chuckle out of this unintentional result.

      Getting back to the concept of freezing things, we ended up having a great opportunity to really give Brandon Black a hard time. Once every three weeks, the airmen of any given shift would be on ‘halls and walls’ duty on the Friday of their assigned week. This meant that anyone ranked E-4 or below would wash, polish and buff the shop floor to a mirror finish while the Sergeants played cards or watched TV in the break room. As ranking airman, I was always shafted with being ‘Airman In Charge’ of the clean up detail, meaning I spent most of my time hunting down the members of my crew who continuously tried to sneak away to smoke or goof off. I made Tiffany my deputy and she enjoyed cracking the whip and helping me heard the lazy back to battle the scuffed up floor.

      Brandon was an incredibly hard worker when actually present, which was seldom. When he was actually present, the high quality of his work was probably appreciated less than it should have been due to his hyperactive and somewhat abrasive nature at times, especially when he would do things that would kill almost a whole night for me such as telling Celeste she had a fat ass. This all made him a ripe juicy target and one evening he just made it so easy. I got him to man the floor buffer one night and desiring not to get his uniform splattered with wax, doffed it in favor of donning a mechanics style coverall he found in the storage area.

      While he was busy getting started, Tiffany absconded the crisply folded uniform, doused it with water, and set the whole thing in the freezer. I did my part by making sure the buffing lasted until almost dawn so that he would not have cause to seek it out before that. This was simply done by neglecting to hunt him down like a dog when he’d sneak off here and there. Time finally came to clean up and he frantically began searching for his duds. The coverall of course was improper uniform and he would be hammered for being out of the only approved set of clothes by day shift when they arrived. About 10 minutes before they made it in, someone had the heart to tip him off.

      He discovered his pants and shirt still folded nicely to preserve the all important creases, but in an unfortunate state of half frozen, half sopping wet. Like many others caught in the butt end of a good prank, he was considerably pissed and failed to see the humor, especially after being forced to pull up tight freezing cold pants up over the old boys. He shook violently though turnover where everyone got a nice good hoot at observing his predicament. While this was good enough for the most of us, an extra surprise awaited as he was informed that he had been selected for random urinalysis that morning; an appointment that was absolutely forbidden to be missed and was enforced by an escort of one’s supervisor to ensure no detour be taken that might affect the results. Miserable and freezing, he set off as we speculated that it would probably be quite difficult to find where the old equipment had retreated to in order to fill the cup.

      Brandon swore revenge and tried to carry it out by freezing Tiffany’s boots one night as she was in the strange habit of breaking every safety rule and working in her stocking feet. When she discovered his sneaky plan she gave me her keys and I drove over to her place and simply got a fresh dry pair as the Air Forced like to issue boots at any occasion. I returned to Buffalo with 6 or 7 pairs I never wear.


6 Responses

  1. “… like Doberman on a guy wearing meat pants…” a bit too forced.

    somehow ended up with the small room my ass! You and Paul snuck into Comstock and setup your shit completely before telling me we could move in. You having kept the identity and contact information of Don secret I had not choice but to wait for your call. Fucker. I was fine taking the smaller room at Princeton as in those times I did not spend a lot of time at home., but it was my own fault for not demanding you pay a larger portion of the rent.

  2. If you recall, Jason was actually the first to move in to Comstock a full 3 days before Knaus and I did. He left a note on the door saying he left the keys on the kitchen table before going off to NYC for a long weekend.

    Now really, do you want to make the claim that Jason was foxier than you by managing to get in there first (and still neglecting to take a good room)? I mean if you want to take the position that he exhibited several degrees of brilliance over you through a McGyver-ish pairing of the information on the lease and a phone book, by all means, be my guest.

    And the doberman line was not forced; it rolled off my fingertips with nary a grunt.

  3. I do not recall. Jason was not craftier, unless you mean he carried more cheese than I did. He was just so desperate to get into a home where people did not (yet) want him gone, while I was wasting away my summer. Jason was also too lazy and weak to walk upstairs. I’m surprised on on e of his many trips downstairs for his week long sagas of laundry doing he did not get stuck at the base of the stairs, like an old dog.

  4. I do Not recall ever walking back from the chow hall. It was on the other side of the base. Unlike some people, I had a car. I love the post. Came across it by accident while google searching my own name. Very funny. I wish I could have dumped Black in the bay when I left.

  5. I will say that the trip through the parking lot was all kinds of fun though.

  6. Awesome. Found this by accident while Googling some of our old shop mates. I had just told the story of how Charlie Ford crapped Kent’s pants and couldn’t remember Kent’s last name, so I had to look it up. Thanks for the reminder of one of my finest pranking moments. As I remember it, I broke the joke by writing on the counselling form-as my last point-that you needed to realize that the situation was a joke. But I can attest that by the tme the joke broke you were LIVID.
    And thanks for acknowledging that I took hits from Ahlm for you guys on a daily basis, even if you didn’t make it clear the routine fisting was not voluntary.
    However, I’d like to point out that I was not (and am not) bald, I just kept my hair shaved to about 1/8 inch back then.

    BTW – How’s the shoulder?

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