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Pull the rug out from under us
Streetplay is happy to announce Laura Emerson as the winner of our "April Fools, Best Prank Contest." Laura received a Streetplay 50/50 prize - A $50 American Express Travelers Cheque and $50 donated to a children's charity of her choice.
We are also including some of the notable mentioned stories. Now folks, remember, the contest was "Practical Jokes," so please understand if there is a bit of nastiness to them. A couple are pretty short, some others are much longer, but all are fun reads.
Winner: "Surprised Two Times"
He almost fell out of his chair! He just kept trying to talk and nothing would
come out! I told him after a few minutes "April Fools!". He was so relieved.
But little did we know that I would be on the end of the joke when I found
out, a couple of weeks later, that at 45 we were to be parents again! We had
the most adorable little boy in the world and he fits in so well with his 6
Notable Mentions:"Mary had a little lamb"
When I was in high school, my friend Stu and I use to cut class and play jokes on people. We used to call the mothers of our friends and pretend we were from radio stations. They never caught on.
One day we were feeling especially mischievous and plotted our best April Fool's day prank ever. Stu's house was across the street from a huge Pathmark Supermarket. We decided to give away a shopping spree by calling the pay phone in the Pathmark parking lot.
So we waited and waited till a little old lady with a shopping cart passed near the pay phone. We dialed the number and she picked it up. In my best radio announcer voice I said "Congratulations, this is Bob Roberts of Pathmark Supermarkets and you have just won a $500 shopping spree. All you have to do is locate the lucky cashier and say 'Mary had a little lamb, 69 cents a pound' within the next 5 minutes, so hurry." The lady was clearly excited and asked us to repeat it again. Then she hustled across that parking lot like no grandmother ever ran. We planted some friends in the checkout counter area with a tape recorder to see what happened.
Sure enough, the old lady comes charging in frantic and runs up to the first cashier and shouted "Mary had a little lamb, 69 cents a pound." No response from the cashier, so she goes to the next cashier and says "Mary had a little lamb, 69 cents a pound." This goes on for a minute until one cashier responds with "Yeah, yeah, yeah, her fleece was white as snow, what the F#@$ is wrong with you Miss?"
Soon the store manager was over to hear the story of the radio station contest and our friends slithered out of the store.
"Getting into a mess"
My cousin's fiancée wanted to play a practical joke on her. He set up her office with all kinds of booby traps, like confetti to fall, powder to swish, sounds to grunt and a camera to take pictures.
Unfortunately, the cleaning lady came in first. She was not amused.
"Too dumb to be embarrassed"
This may not be the best prank of all time-but it's true nonetheless. In high school, I sat next to (let's be kind and say) an intellectually challenged young senior girl. To make matters worse, she was one of the most obstinate girls you'd ever not want to meet. Well, on one particular day,this darling young female rats on me to the teacher, telling him that I was one who put the thumbtacks on his chair while he was out of the room (of course, I was guilty!). Needless to say,of course this meant war, but I would have to wait for the perfect opportunity.
Well, about a month passed without incident and I decided to pretend to let bygones be bygones. Then, suddenly, my time had come. The teacher had given an assignment-an oral presentation concerning personal challenges that were either successfully met or not. One week had passed, and our assignments were due the following day. Well, I was happily surprised to find out that my new "buddy" hadn't even started the project, and she was failing the class. Surprise, surprise! She humbly begged for help. I, being the good Samaritan that I am, offered not only to help her but offered to write the paper myself. She eagerly agreed. Taking into account her limited vocabulary, I told that I would base the project upon my personal Phobia-fear of heights. Again she eagerly agreed.
The next day, prior to class, I gave her the typed oral report entitled, "nymphomania, my struggle," and I explained that the word nymphomania was the "technical" term for the fear of heights. I also swore her to secrecy, explaining that if the teacher found out that the paper wasn't genuinely hers, she was bound for summer school on the other hand, if she kept her fat mouth shut that she would at least receive credit for having something to hand in; she swore it was our secret.
Finally her time had arrived. She was embarrassed by her problem, yet she was very confident, for she had an oral report to give! She started "Good morning class, I stand before you nervously but those of you that know me, know this to be true: that I am a nymphomaniac! I cannot help myself-but I am getting better. I have a very willing father, who also suffers from this problem and also helps me with my special needs. I also have a therapist who will make his first housecall tomorrow."
At this point the class was...hysterical!!! The teacher came tearing down the aisle and ripped the paper from her hands! After reading the title, he announced that class was dismissed and for my "buddy", she had to stay after class to exlain herself! That evening I got a phone call from my "buddy" and she explained to me that I had been wrong the whole time; nymphomania is not the fear of heights! ........imagine that!
"How's the mileage?"
We had a neighbor, old man Groven, who had a French Renault Dauphine With the two tone horn. He claimed the car got great gas mileage. Everyday before he left for work he'd blow the horn on both tones, it had a high tone and low tone. He'd wake everybody up in the neighborhood. The neighbors were really bent out of shape. This guy was a blow hard, always cutting down American cars and to make things worse, he worked at the Ford Plant in Cincinnati and what was even more of a blow was that I was definitely a Chevy man (of 9 years old).
We use to go to St. Joseph's Church Friday Fish Fry each week and ever since old man Groven bought that "frenchie" car, old man Groven was always bragging about his French import. He blasphemed American cars, and to a kid that could name - by sight - every American car produced in the last 10 years and the various models, old man Groven was committing a large, unforgivable sin.
Yes a Fish Fry, what else does a Catholic boy do on Fridays, who lives across the street from a Catholic church and whose mother is about to marry a man who has a daughter who is a Benedictine Nun. Give me a break, I was terminally Catholic!
I decided old man Groven had to be stopped and I hit upon a plan that Would make this guy look ridiculous. This plan put G. Gordon Liddy's little break in at the Watergate seem spontaneous. I shared my plan with no one.
Every night for about two weeks I would sneak to this guy's car and from a gas can I snitched from a landscaping truck parked nearby, I'd fill up his gas tank.
Now our neighborhood was small and old man Groven would go right after supper and sit in Holman's bar or pitch horseshoes while betting on the horses at Klaines' bar and tell outlandish stories of the fabulous gas mileage he was getting in his Renault Dauphine Deluxe - 50-60 miles to the gallon and by the end of two weeks everybody believed him to be a fool, as he was claiming 75-80 miles to the gallon, when my step-dad to be's Chevy was getting 14 miles per gallon.
This was my own effort to get everyone to buy American.
The neighborhood men called him crazy and a liar. I wasn't responsible for his reputation for being a blowhard, I just helped him retain his world class jerk status. The guy who ran the local gas station backed him up and told everybody that he hadn't seen old man Groven in for gas for at least two weeks, but all of the men just figured he was going into another area to buy gas.
Old man Groven was becoming the laughing stock of our neighborhood with his incessant bragging about his Renault. My plan was working. I'll teach him to put down Chevies!
I didn't tell anyone I was doing this to old man Groven. And I planned it to be sweet revenge for American made cars. I never thought about the damage I was doing to the dealer who sold Renaults or the poor suckers who were either running there to get these wonderful cars, only to be disappointed when the cars didn't get 75 miles to the gallon of gas or the people who stayed away from the dealer thinking this was a bunch of lies. Today I would probably be in the center of some kind of law suit.
Well as any good prank goes - somebody has got to pay...
The beginning of the end started when I got caught "borrowing" the gas can from a landscaping truck parked on a near by street. Mr. Bowman, the landscape truck owner was having his own gas crisis, after a week he knew someone was stealing his gas. One night he sat on the Dolan's porch where he could see his truck and saw me "borrow" the gas can, he followed me. He evidently watched me do the deed. he nailed me when I was putting the gas can back on his truck. I can't remember being as scared as I was that night. He told me he wanted all the gas back, and I said I couldn't pay for it because it was 19 cents a gallon (can you believe it 19 cents, we are paying $1.79 today) and I didn't have the money but I promised I'd get him the gas back little by little as long as he didn't tell my soon to be step-dad - because I'd get the beating of my life.
Mr. Bowman wanted to know why I was stealing the gas and filling up old Man Groven's gas tank. I told him about my revenge plan on old man Groven for just being a jerk and putting down American cars, Mr. Bowman couldn't stop laughing. (did you ever notice that if you respected an adult as a kid you called them Mr. Or Mrs. But if you didn't respect them you would call them old man or old lady.)
Mr. Bowman knew that old man Groven was actually telling the "truth" down at Holman's bar - at least as old man Groven knew it. Mr. Bowman told me he would not rat me out if I replaced his gas. I had the feeling that Mr. Bowman watched me replace the gas and had a few private laughs during the coming days.
I was temporarily relieved to know he wouldn't tell my mom and step dad to be, but how could a nine year old earn enough gas money now that school was starting up again? I thought about stealing the money from my stepfather but that would just complicate things if I got caught (I guess I wasn't that Catholic). I could collect pop(soda) bottles, collect scrap metal and take it to the junk yard and get whatever I could. I would do anything to keep my soon-to-be- stepfather from knowing about my transgressions against old man Groven.
I thought long and hard, running many scenarios through my young brain. I finally hit on an idea that was beautifully simple - if I could put gas in old man Groven's car, I could get gas out. My idea was to siphon the gas out of old man Groven's car every night until I "paid back" Mr. Bowman.
And so I did. My tools were a length of old garden hose that my hound Dog Queenie had chewed up in a fit of anger and Mr. Bowman's gas can. I can't believe I did it, but every night for close to two weeks, after old man Groven's lights were off, I slipped out of my bedroom window, down on to our kitchen roof, grabbed the 5 feet of old garden hose I had stashed in the gutter and dropped to the ground and headed for Mr. Bowman's truck. I would grab the gas can and sneak to old man Groven's car. I'd take off the gas cap, slide the hose in until it bottomed out and sucked like heck on the hose.
Several times I had to repeat the process because a car was coming down the street or someone was staggering home from Holman's or Klaine's bar. Nobody would call the cops for somebody filling a gas tank, but taking gas out would be a reason to stop a kid of 9 years old. Some nights I'd spill a half gallon in the gutter just trying to get the hose from my mouth to the gas can.
One night I got gas in my mouth and was sick for two days. Mr. Bowman Heard I'd gotten sick and got word through to me by way of a buddy, Andy Kessen, that my "Debt was Repaid." Andy never knew that carrying that simple message kept his name in my memory all these years, and probably saved me from worse brain damage.
A few days later I saw Mr. Bowman as he was unloading a mower from his truck, he said he was in Holman's bar one night recently and heard old man Groven talking to a group of men and Mr. Bowman asked old man Grove about his Renault Dauphine. Old man Groven was now complaining that his gas mileage has been so erratic and that dam french car had been in the shop trying to figure out why it was using so much gas. He said he was thinking of trading it in on this nice old Hudson he had seen on a lot across town. Old man Groven was now running down the "Frenchie's" car making abilities. He even stopped blowing the two tone horn when he left for work each morning.
Later that same week I saw Mr. Bowman and he said he would like to take me downtown for some ice cream on Saturday. Mr. Bowman picked me up and took me downtown in his landscaping truck to Kresege's the following Saturday for a banana split, and we sat at the counter like two old buddies. I got to select a balloon that had the price for the banana split written on a slip of paper inside the balloon, the counter lady pinched the slip of paper through the balloon and popped the balloon, Mr. Bowman only paid 49 cents for my banana split. Sitting there respected by a grown man I respected felt really great! Mr. Bowman had me retell him the story several times as to the reason I put it over on old man Groven. He told me he couldn't keep straight face whenever he saw Old Man Groven and his friends - because he knew the truth about the legendary Renault.
We both giggled the entire morning. Mr. Bowman told me that was the Funniest thing he had ever seen in his life and that when I got older and bigger I could come and work for him in the summer cutting grass. Wow! Life just didn't get any better. I had a job offer at 9 years old.
Today, I would not siphon gas on a large bet. So if my friends read this they now know why my brain works differently from theirs - mine runs on high test!
A lawyer who rented office space from the firm where I worked was relentless and merciless in verbally harassing and ridiculing all the young lawyers and especially me, as the newest associate in the firm. I decided to get him.
The lawyer had a very sharp-looking Caddy; I'm no great fan of Caddies and even I thought this car was cool. The year was about '84 or so; April Fools Day fell on a Monday. I placed an ad in the Sunday paper: "Exec transferred out of town; must sell the sharp Caddy; BEST OFFER OVER $5000. Call Monday only, 8:30 to 4:00." I gave his private phone number which rang at his desk and not through the switchboard (which meant it couldn't be stopped).
He got to the office at 8:00 and the phone was ringing off the hook. It kept on ringing all day. He left the office about 11:30. Couldn't get any work done.
One April Fool's Day, a tax partner came into the Danbury office of Main Hurdman to meet with a client. As usual, he was running late for his appointment. When he arrived, he greeted his client and asked him to follow him in to his office.
When he opened his door, was he surprised. All of his furniture was removed from his office. The office staff had removed all of his furniture the night before as an April Fool's Day Joke. He later reciprocated by having his secretary distribute (fake) pink slips to everyone.
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