Tuesday, May 2, 2017
I like practical jokes... not the kind where someone is hurt or where someone is seriously embarrassed or belittled. I think jokes that make you laugh with yourself and others liven up the day.
That is not to say that I have not always used good judgement in practical joking. I wish to blame age but youth is not a good excuse. But for the most part my practical jokes hurt no one.
Of course there are the standard "Your shoe is untied" and "What is that spot on your shirt?" as you flip your finger up to their nose. Most people do not fall for those any more. But they are funny when you 'get' them.
When I was in my early teens I was wandering around downtown when I came across a novelty store. By novelty I mean the kind of store that sold things like whoopie cushions and fake vomit. I must point out that every two or three years my children and grandchildren receive whoopie cushions for Christmas as part of their stockings. So beware when visiting.
Back to the store. I found all sorts of delights but was fascinated by the loads. I say loads because they were out of cigarette loads. All they had in stock were cigar loads. I had always wanted to try them because I had seen them on television. Besides they were extremely inexpensive and I had little money.
My sister was with me. We planned and plotted. Who would be our victim? We discussed our mother. but she might have a bad reaction to it. Who else did we know who smoked? It had to be someone we had access to. It also had to be someone who would be around when the cigarette was lit so we could watch. There was only one other candidate. Daddy.
When we got home from work we managed to grab his cigarettes while he was in another room. I carefully pulled one cigarette out of the pack. I then took the loads out of their wrapping. They looked like small pieces of straw. Even though they were made for cigars they were so small. I decided to put in three just to make sure they worked.
My father smoked non-filtered cigarettes so I was not sure which end he would light so I needed to push them into the center of the cigarette. I used a toothpick and it worked quite well.
Now all we had to do was wait. Only my sister and I knew what was going on. We were on pins and needles all evening waiting, waiting, waiting...
Finally he took out the loaded cigarette. He lit it. Nothing happened. He took a few puffs; nothing happened. Duds thought we.
Suddenly BANG!!!! That cigarette sounded like an M80. It exploded right under my father's nose. His eyes popped open wide and his whole head turned red with anger. He was mad!
As he was demanding to know who did it all of us kids were finding ways to leave the room. Mom was already at the kitchen door so all she had to do was go back to cooking.
I never did admit to Daddy that it was me and my sister. I think that even after a lot of years had passed he might have spanked us. Mom told me after Daddy died that she knew we did it. She never said a word.
As I said age is not an excuse but it is the only one I have. And I was not even able to enjoy it because I was scared that he would find me out.
One of my dear friends was getting married. The best man was a notorious practical joker. When another friend of his got married he went to the honeymoon hotel the before the wedding and he and some other friends removed all the furniture from the room. Because of this the present honeymoon destination was a closely guarded secret.
After a great deal of persuasion and more than a little liquor we were able to pry the hotel name from the groom's father. It was just across the border in Canada.
About 6 of us waited an indecent amount of time. Then we went to the hotel and asked for their room. The clerk was wise enough to not divulge that information.
However we had another trick up our sleeves. One of us was the bride's sister. The clerk finally agreed to connect us to the room if we would go to a house phone.
Sister was on the phone with the bride who did not believe for one minute that we were in the hotel lobby. Until sister began to describe the fountain, the entrance to the lounge, and what band was playing in the lounge. The newlyweds came down to see us.
The poor things agreed to go with us to a little outdoor restaurant for a drink. The groom was in obvious discomfort and the bride was trying so hard to be gracious. I am sure it was the high point of their honeymoon.
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I do not believe in violent or destructive mischief but it is a good time for people to be good-naturedly scared. I have assisted in planning many haunted houses.
I was working in the cash office of a large department store chain. We were isolated from the rest of the store because we had all the money and records in with us. We often decorated for holidays.
One year I got the bright idea to make tombstones for those of us who worked the cash office. Of course we needed epitaphs so I wrote funny little epitaphs for each of us. The others in the office liked them so much they invited people from other offices to see them. I had to make them for those people too.
Another time those of us on the night shift decided to decorate the office right. We had access to merchandise from the store. All we needed was someone with the authority to write off the expense. We went straight to our friend and part time co-worker. Then we set about getting our decorations.
We built a scarecrow using things people left on the lanes when they were shopping. (We held those items for 30 days to see if they would come back to reclaim them.) There was a jacket, sunglasses, a hearing aid, a cane, false teeth, gloves, boots, and even a prosthetic leg. Add a mask and we had a proper scarecrow.
We set up flying ghosts and bats to attack the cashiers when they came in for their cash drawers. If our inner office door opened there were shrieks and moans. We had ghosts and bats hanging from the ceiling. In all the drawers (of which there were many. Each drawer had a special use and each was used often.) there were surprises. There were plastic worms and spiders and all sorts of disgusting things. But the best part of all was the little haunted house we had set up in the vault.
At the beginning of each shift one person had to balance all the money in the office. That included going into the vault to count the money in there.
When the morning shift came in they would have to count the safe which is what we called it. And inside the safe sat our dear friend. We had a long cape and mask on him and he just sat there and waited.
The head of the cash office was doing the counting this day. She counted the stamp drawer. Then she counted the safe drawer. Thne she counted the service drawer. Then she counted the cashier drawer. All the time she counted she was talking about how much she liked the decorations. We were smiling to ourselves and anticipating the moment she went into the safe.
Then she began to talk about how afraid she was of haunted houses. She said she had never been able to go into them because she was so scared. I had a sinking feeling about her going into the safe. As I was trying to find a way to tell her not to go into the safe without betraying my co-workers she went into the safe.
Nothing happened. Still nothing happened. I went over to see if she had dropped dead from fright when she screamed and came running out of the safe. I thought she was going to run me over and go right through the wall into the shoe repair. At the last minute she made a left turn at the coin counter and ran to a corner at the opposite end of the room.
As she leaned against the counter panting I told our dear friend he could come out. He said he would as soon as he could move his legs. He had sat there for so long without moving that his legs would not work.
When he was finally able to stand he came out and told us what happened. She had gone into the safe and started counting the boxes of rolled coin. She was so intent on her job that she did not even notice that he was sitting there. When she lifted her head a bit he slightly lifted his hand and gave her a little wave. That was when she screamed.
She was such a good sport after she had ascertained that she was not going to have a heart attack. We laughed about it for the rest of the time that our shifts overlapped. She also promised that she would find a way to get me back. I welcomed the threat.
These are just a sampling of practical jokes I have been a participant in. I am sure they will not be the last but it is harder to be original the older I get.