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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Prankster at large

During my sophomore year in high school, I caught a ride to and from school with the juniors in my neighborhood. I wasn't old enough to have a driver's license, but they were. Four days a week they ran a carpool, one guy assigned to each weekday. On Fridays my mom drove us.

There was mischief, naturally.

Somebody came into possession of a condom. I don't remember who or how. The driver that morning —  let's call him Herb (not his real name, not even his first initial) —  had taken out his wallet for some reason and left it on the car seat while he drove. I distracted him and slipped the rubber into his wallet. My hope was, his parents would see it later and ask all kinds of embarrassing questions. Good fun, right?

It gets much better.

That afternoon on the way home, things got a little crazy in the car. Herb flew past an elementary school at a high rate of speed. The school zone limit of 15 mph was still in effect. Unfortunately for Herb, a State Trooper happened to be in the vicinity.

He chases us, pulls us over, and accuses Herb of going 62 in a 15. Catastrophe! Herb freaks out. The trooper sternly commands Herb to get out of the car and then demands his driver's license. Herb reaches into his back pocket, fumbles around nervously with the wallet… and the condom falls out onto the pavement.

I don't believe even Truman Capote could describe the look on Herb's face. The trooper breaks out laughing and lets Herb go with just a warning. I'm still laughing about it.

True story from 1970. Herb, wherever you are, you can't get mad at me because my practical joke saved your ass.

One of my favorite episodes of M*A*S*H was the revelation that placid B.J. Hunnicutt was the camp's secret practical joker, with a string of marvelous successes.

Yes, I still try to pull a good practical joke every few years. They require careful planning because I strive for quality, not quantity. Ask around, you'll hear. At work, ask Steve about the Frontline restaurant. At church, ask Becky about the fake newsletter. And watch out; you could be next.