Pranks Are for Kids

When I was 15 or 16, I was with a group of friends who went around one night and pulled a prank.  Janet, Colleen, Diana, Barb, me, Bruce, David and Doug all lived in the same neighborhood in a new (at that time) housing development.  Our prank consisted of teepee-ing a neighbor’s house one night around 8:30 or 9:00.  It wasn’t homecoming, prom or even senior skip day, but just something we decided to do on the spur of the moment.  I don’t recall which one of the group’s household lost their toilet paper supply that night, but we were determined to create a memory that would someday rival that of our parents’ memories about tipping over outhouses!

There was a feeling of power that overcame us because to everyone else on the block, we were invisible.  No one could see us.  No one could hear us – at least after everyone told me to shut up after I got the giggles.  Several of us served as lookouts while the rest went to work on what we thought was an almost beautiful piece of sculptural artwork.  Every roll of toilet paper was used, and the result was a huge tree and landscape bushes transformed into a snow-like wonderland of Charmin.  We stepped back to admire our work, then one of the boys ran up to the door and rang the bell.  The house belong to a well-respected teacher so we were sure he’d know it was us, and wouldn’t be mad.  We still ran for our lives, but only far enough to watch the reaction.  We loved it!  Mr. Brown came outside, looked around, put his hands on his hips, and hollered out “Okay, guys!  Good job!  Now clean it up!” and went back inside.  To this day I don’t know if he was watching, but we did come back right away, and we cleaned up as much of the mess that we could reach.

So ended my one and only prank.  At least on the giving end.

How times change!  My husband and I were the victims of a prank recently.  It was only the ringing of our doorbell late at night.  The culprit(s) fled, much as I had done as a teen, and we didn’t think anything about it. As a matter of fact, we wondered if the doorbell was malfunctioning. Until the next night, that is.  It rang again as we were getting ready for bed.  That night, my husband went around the house, checked all the locks, and then stood guard for a bit to see if he could spot anything.  I finally fell asleep after worrying about a burglar casing our place, and decided to call the police the next day.  However, it didn’t seem so scary in the morning so I didn’t, and nothing more happened for a few weeks.

Last week, around 10 p.m. the bell rang again, and this time we spotted them!  I cranked open a window and bellowed “KNOCK IT OFF!” while my husband scooted out a side door.  He saw a group of teens hunkered down in the ditch across the street, and when he started over there, the kids took off in the dark.

We were both mad.  Should I have been angry, I wondered?  After all, I’d done something similar, right?  But I was scared and my heart was beating hard. I realized that the difference between me as a teen and me as an adult was that I was on the receiving end of the prank – oh, and my AGE, I guess.  I have two relatives with health problems – and anytime my doorbell or telephone rings after 9:30 at night, I’m sure it’s bad news.  Plus, times have changed.  The chances of a prankster getting hurt on someone else’s property, suing the owner and winning have increased immeasurably from the time I was young to some forty or fifty years later.

So I decided to use the old “It takes a village” adage and I tattled!  Through the miracle of group electronic messaging, I fired off an email to all the households in the area, reporting what had happened and asking if anyone else had the same problem.  I mentioned it scared the bejeebers out of us, and just asked if anyone had knowledge of who might be doing it.  If so, to please ask them to stop. I got four emails back from other “victims” and we spotted a parent of teens in the area slowly driving up and down the street.  Pranking has stopped so far.

I’m glad.  Kind of.  We actually thought we might buy some squirt guns, hide in the garage, and mount a counter assault if we saw someone ringing our bell at night the next weekend.  But then we remembered we’re not teens anymore…  🙁

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