Wednesday, 4 January 2012


Today I went to a wildlife park about an hour north-east of Ottawa with my family and a couple of my daughter's friends.  The kids in the back were talking about various pranks they had pulled over their still short lives.  This got me to thinking a little but about some capers my friends and I pulled.

Some were a little lame, and in retrospect, kind of stupid.  Like the time my friend (who shares a name with a famous clown that shills for a major fast food chain) and I (who coincidently was voted class clown for my graduating class) assaulted (with emphasis on the syllable with "ass" in it) our highschool english teacher with a water balloon.  The teacher in question gets an A+ for not turning us in.  Sadly, he went on to commit suicide the following year.  Nothing funny about that.

Much later, I was working at Agriculture and Agrifood Canada (AAFC) in a group that could best be described as a dysfunctional daycare.  In a good way.  Our Director General (DG) was this petite 50-something woman who was former warden of some of Canada's meanest penitentiaries.  The Warden was more ring leader than boss.  She herself masterminded a number of pranks, and we perpetrated a number of them knowing that our erstwhile boss would have our backs.  In order to protect the innocent, I won't detail those pranks here, but I raise it because it was at this job that I met The Doberman.  He was a partner in crime and we quickly became friends.

After I left AAFC, The Doberman and I stayed in touch and we became less partners in pranks and more each other's victim.  One of the things we did while working together was that while our colleague was away we put a ballon with a weird angry face drawn on it in the neck of her snowsuit that she left hanging in her office.  Lame, I know.  But months after I left for another job, I got an envelope at my new office and found inside the flaccid balloon, looking for all the world like an evil tribal shrunken head.  Hilarious, though I guess you had to be there.

Fast forward a few years and my wife Kate is looking through her childhood stash of Barbies to show my daughter.  Many of them had been disarticulated - a jumble of legs, arms and torsos and many heads with weird haircuts giving them a maniacal look.  Remebering The Doberman's funny joke with the deflated balloon, I thought, "wouldn't it be funny to pack up some of these doll parts and send them anonymously to him?"  I giggled for days at the though of him opening the envelope and seeing the parts and thinking WTF?  A few days later, the Doberman calls with a slight quaver in his voice asking if I had sent him Barbie parts.  I strung him along for a while until he told me his wife was a little freaked out and he sounded not unworried himself.  I finally confessed.  I felt pretty bad, but I really thought he would recognize my hand behind the prank and I guess I didn't see doll parts as the threat to life and limb that some may have interpreted it as.  I was forgiven, I think.

Another time, The Doberman was taking a weekend woodworking course at the local college.  I happened to be near the college one Saturday morning and I thought I'd stop by the college and see if he was free for a coffee.  I got there just as he was leaving the shop class.  I quickly ducked behind a bush and followed him to the parking lot and to his car.  He opened the back door of his car and leaned in to put the beatifully machined parts of his project on the seat.  That's when I jumped behind him, pushed him into the car and muttered threateningly into his ear that "you better give me all your money or you're dead," or something along those lines.  To his credit, he remained calm while he twisted his head, saw it was me and said "oh, hey."  "Oh, hey?,"  are you kidding me?  Not the reaction I was hoping for, but in retrospect, I could have induced a heart attack in the poor man.

I was retelling these stories, and some others, to my brothers, no slouches in the prank department themselves, and even they had thought I had stepped over the line.  So, I apologize often to The Doberman for amusing myself at his expense and have began atoning for what will be the rest of my life.  He is a very good friend, a guy for whom I would unhesitatingly take a bullet.

I would love to hear about any pranks you've put into motion or have been the victin of and have been able to laugh about.

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