My Family (a long time ago)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


The other day at work we were discussing some pranks that have occurred there. In one of them, a stuffed moose from the Holiday Party Yankee Swap was kidnapped and held for ransom. In another, the Manager of Development came in to work to find his office filled with white and pink balloons, wall-to-wall and almost floor-to-ceiling. He could barely even get in the door to his office. In the most recent prank, everything at one guy’s desk was covered with plastic wrap. His chair, his laptop, his monitor, his pens and even his sticky notes were all individually wrapped in plastic cling wrap. Though there were suspects for all these pranks, no one took credit for them.

I’m not against pranks as long as no one gets hurt and nothing is broken. Growing up in a family with nine kids, including seven boys, you either have fun with pranks or you cry and whine all the time. My older brothers played a great prank on my younger brother and I. Three of them would be in their room and they would have us wait in the hall outside of it, then they’d let us back in and one of them would be gone! We’d look under the beds, under the blankets of the top bunk bed, in the closet, and out the windows in case he was hiding outside. He was nowhere to be found. Then they’d have us go back to the hallway for a minute and when we returned to their room, there he was! They did this multiple times and every time one of them was gone. It took us a few years before we realized that there was a trap door to storage space in their closet and that’s where the “missing” brother was going.

Being taught well by my older brothers and being a bit of a wise guy myself, I participated in far too many pranks over the years to detail here, but here are a couple that I remember like they happened last week. 

I used to have an obsession with throwing things up on the ceiling that I think came from The Three Stooges episode where Moe throws a pie up on the ceiling, which then falls onto the face of a rich woman when she looks up. In the fourth grade, Ms. Silverstein, my teacher, stepped out of the room for a moment and I promptly took a Fudgie (a piece of chocolate candy for those who don’t know what I’m talking about), rolled it in a ball and threw it up at the ceiling, where it stuck – just above the door. Most of the kids thought it was funny, so I did the same thing with another, which was followed by more laughter. Ms. Silverstein, sensing something was wrong, came back in and looked around the room trying to figure out what was going on. Meanwhile, the first piece of chocolate was loosening up and barely hanging on to the ceiling right above her head. Just after she turned to go back to her desk, it fell to the ground, missing her by about an inch and landing on the floor. Luckily for me she never did figure out what happened.

You think I would have learned from that near miss, but no, I did something similar in eighth grade. We were doing an “International Week” in Social Studies where each student gave a report on a different country. Someone’s choice was Italy and the person brought in some cheese to share with everybody. While most of my classmates tasted their cheese, I rolled mine into a ball and threw it at the ceiling where it stuck just above my desk. Too many of my classmates were looking up at it so I thought I better get it down before the teacher, Mr. Lown, saw it and gave me detention. I hit it with my pen, but it didn’t move. I waited a minute, so as to not draw attention to myself, and threw my notebook at it, but it held on tight. I figured I needed something bigger, so after another minute I threw my text book up at it and knocked it down – along with the whole ceiling panel that was then all over me, my desk and the floor around me in about a hundred pieces! Needless to say, I got caught.

Looking back all these years later, the pranks I did in school were stupid, as was shutting the classroom closet door on my friend Smitty. Many pranks are kind of stupid. They’re fun at the time, but not so much later. Thankfully no one got hurt in any of the pranks I was involved in, although I did have to sit below a gaping hole in the ceiling of my Social Studies class for about a month. That was painful.

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