Here are a few of the better stunts we pulled at the Simpson house...
The Christmas Tree Pile-up. You know that week after New Year's when everybody puts their dead, dried-out, Charlie-Brown looking Christmas trees on the curb? One year my mom got the idea that we needed to help out the city employees and go around collecting the trees. Why? Because she wanted to pile up as many trees as possible in the front courtyard of our neighbor's house. (This was a very good friend of the family, mind you, and not a vindictive revenge against an unkind neighbor.) Sometime around midnight we drove around the block gathering trees and depositing them into Leonora's courtyard. Eventually they were so piled up that you couldn't even see the front door. I don't know if Leonora or her skillethead* of a husband opened the front door first, but I do wish I could have seen their reaction when they saw their very own Dead Christmas Tree Lot.
(* Skillethead: noun A person who has absolutely no sense of humor to the point where you just want to whack them over the head with a skillet.)
The Midnight Stampers. My sister Jamie was having a slumber party sometime during the early 80s. I remember a gaggle of girls sitting in the Jacuzzi singing along to Billy Joel's Glass Houses album (back when they were actually albums), so it was probably the summer of 1980. It was loud, giggly, raucous, and I was rather grateful when everybody finally fell asleep on the living room floor. One, it was quiet, and two, my mom had another great practical joke to pull. My mom, sister Brooke, and I took a few of her rubber stamps and a black ink pad and stamped on the girls' faces. It was a little dicey pressing a stamp onto a sleeping girl without her waking up, and it was even more difficult navigating our way among the sleeping bags and other junk without tripping and falling. But we managed the task and went to bed.
Several hours later we woke up to the sound of squealing as the girls had discovered their inked-up faces. Some of them thought it was hilarious, but most of the 12-year-old girls were not pleased. They grew even more frustrated when neither soap nor cleanser nor Sea Breeze removed the black ink. I think my mom had to apologize to the other moms that day.
The Granny Panties Flagpole. My mom, Skeez* and I used to take evening walks around the neighborhood. One of the neighbors had a metal flagpole in the front yard. There was never, ever a flag on the pole and the chain made a rather annoying clanging sound when the wind blew. I don't remember why we decided to do this, but one night we took a pair of the biggest, ugliest satin panties and strung them up the flagpole. They waved gloriously in the wind for a day or two until the neighbor noticed them and took them down. We waited another week and then strung up another pair. This went on for a while before the novelty wore off. It was one of our more juvenile stunts but nobody ever said we were mature.
(*Skeez: Short for Skeezix, who was a character in an old cartoon strip, maybe Gasoline Alley? Skeez was the nickname of a good friend of my mom's who taught me how to drive in his Mercedes Benz. Talk about stress - even at 15 I knew the value of a Benz and the likelihood of a student driver crashing it.)
The Circular Drive Detour. OK, this one may have been illegal. Certain someones (and I'm not naming names) went around town gathering those blinking construction signs -- you know, those wooden sawhorses that have reflector tape and a flashing orange light on top?
The antics continued in college, of course, and this is probably my favorite practical joke during the college years:
The Dorm Room Gravity Flip. I'd experienced a rather unpleasant break-up, so a girlfriend and I decided to take everything in my boyfriend's room and flip it upside down. We finagled a key from one of the roommates and spent an hour turning his bed, dresser, chair, stereo, wall posters, and everything else we could upside down. We also replaced all his cassette tapes with country music and Prince's Purple Rain. He eventually got his tapes back, but for several days he would pull out a rap case and find a Garth Brooks tape inside. Interestingly enough, the girl who helped me with that stunt ended up dating my ex-boyfriend for the next three years. Hmmm.
But the best practical joker in the family is actually my brother-in-law, Kelly. He's taken joking to a whole new level with these escapades...
The Crime Scene. Kevin and I once inherited a roll of yellow "Crime Scene - Do Not Cross" police tape. It was an awesome white elephant gift and we gave it to my brother-in-law because we knew he'd put it to good use. He held onto it for a while until some neighbors went out of town. Before they got back, he wrapped their entire house with the yellow tape. They got back from a relaxing vacation and were horrified when they turned onto their street and saw that their house had been burglarized. They didn't know what to do, so they knocked on Kelly's door and asked what had happened while they were gone. Kelly strung them along for a while with an elaborate story before he let them in on the joke.
The "What Is That Smell?" Stunt. All parents have had one of these -- the super-stinky, gag-inducing, ultra-nasty poopy diaper. Now imagine putting that diaper under the front seat of a friend's car on a 90-degree day. The friend could not figure out where the horrible smell was coming from. He vacuumed, sprayed air freshener, and even had the car detailed. Eventually (as in days later) his son was sitting in the back seat of the car when he spotted the poopy diaper under the seat. I'm sure payback was unpleasant.
Lastly, and I don't remember which sister pulled this stunt...
Santa Claus Loves Everybody. My sisters live in a highly populated Jewish part of town. (Was that kosher?) One year they collected as many tacky plastic Christmas decorations as possible -- Santas, manger scenes, anything at all to do with Christmas. One of their Jewish neighbors was the lucky recipient of a yard-full of incredibly tacky Christmas decorations. Thankfully both Jews and Gentiles have a sense of humor.
So here's my April Fool's Challenge: I want to hear about your antics! Leave me a comment telling me about the best practical joke you've ever pulled. We all need a good laugh.