Monday, April 02, 2007

My Favorite Practical Joke

It should surprise no one that, as a kid, I loved hand buzzers, whoopee cusions and stink bombs. Which would lead you to think, quite wrongly, that I loved April Fool's Day. But to those who know the nuances of fake vomit (tip: sprinkle water on it), April Fool's Day is like New Year's Eve is to a serious drinker.

Not that any of the jokes worked worth a damn. What third-grader could keep a straight face when a plastic dog turd was involved?

But as we grow older, the pranks become more sophisticated and the really great jokes are the ones that play off a person's own weakness. The best I ever saw was pulled by a pretty country blonde receptionist named Buffy, a woman you underestimated at your peril.

Our boss was known to rifle through trash and desk drawers after hours in order to find out what his employees were up to, because he was sure they were up to something. He would sneak around corners and stand in hallways, hoping to overhear the mutinous staff hatching their plots against him.

And as paranoid as he was, he was even more of a misogynist. Pretty women were stupid and pretty women with country accents were really stupid. When Peter talked to Buffy, he was so condescending that no one would have blamed her if she'd shot him. But she didn't. What she did do was even better.

Buffy began carrying a manila folder that held a few typed sheets of paper. She would pretend to read it at her desk and when the boss approached she would casually close the folder, smile, and say, "Is there something I can do for you, Peter?" No, he would say, and slink away as the only thing he hated more than secrets were confrontations.

When Buffy went to the bathroom, she took her folder with her. When she left for the day, she took the folder home. And with each passing day, Peter became more and more obsessed with fiding out what Buffy was reading.

But of course, she wasn't reading anything. The typed sheets of paper were just that, merely office effluvia she'd picked up for the prank. Buffy did this for almost two weeks, the folder her constant companion and Peter so strung out on the secret that he could think of nothing else.

Then the folder went away.

It took Peter a few days to stop spinning. And I believe that to this day, just as Peter is falling asleep, the picture of Buffy with that folder comes into his head and he starts awake in the dark, unable to close his eyes for hours.

Practical jokes. When they're this smart, you've got to love them.


Bobbi A. Chukran, Author said...

What a great practical joke! Wish I'd thought of that when I was working as secretary to durned idgit bosses who frequently did things like search our purses, etc.

Love your blog, BTW...keep up the good (bad) work!

bobbi c.
also on crimespace

JD Rhoades said...

Heh. Prank judo.

Anonymous said...

I had a high school (late eighties) classmate who lost an ear several years prior in a car accident. Lost the ear, but was otherwise fine and he had a great sense of humor about it as we got older - helped that he was a pretty funny guy himself.

He drove a horrifically old pick up truck that had duct tape in places holding it together. Complete piece of crap.

A group of us walked out to the parking lot after school one day. Another friend of ours had covered the guy's truck in bumper stickers.

You may recall the clothing brand "No Fear!" This friend had gotten about 100 of those stickers from a local surf shop and cut the F out of all of them, so that this guy's truck was now covered in stickers reading "No ear!"

Funniest thing I've ever seen.