The Cast: Erich (the victim), Myself (the perpetrator), The Clown (the stooge).
If you are familiar with the U.S. version of The Office, then you probably are also familiar with the character Jim Halpert. And, if you are familiar with Jim Halpert, then you should be familiar with his propensity to pull the occasional prank.
I would never have thought of myself as a prankster, until I started writing some of my escapades down. It has been more than a little bit of an eye-opener for me. Turns out, I really like pulling a good prank (as is documented here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). But I mean a good prank. Not those elaborate pranks that ruin someone’s clothes or their stuff. Or those jokes that go too far where someone gets hurt—physically, mentally, or emotionally. No, not one of those. Those are just wrong and mean. Just a well-thought-out, well planned (maybe multi-stage), mental messing, fun kind of harmless prank. Those require a lot of thought to help eliminate the variables. That being said, I have had one prank target the wrong person. They were mentally scarred for a long time (I felt really, really, REALLY bad—I’ll write about that one later).
Like Jim, I enjoy the simple kinds of pranks (stapler in Jell-O). They can also be elaborate and involve other people and may take days or whatever, but they are still simple. Like when Jim moved Dwight’s desk into the bathroom. That must have been a lot of effort, but it was just a desk in another room (and nobody got hurt). These are the truly fun kinds of pranks. Like the time I traded out someone’s wooden storage cabinet for one made of cardboard and duct tape (the tape was placed where the metal fastings would have been). They laughed and laughed. In fact, they almost didn’t even notice that their cabinet was now cardboard—as I had replicated the dimensions perfectly and put all their stuff exactly where it had been. Those are fun moments. But, this story isn’t about that. This story is about an opportunity. And a clown.
Years ago, my friend Erich—and his family (wife and children)—had moved to a town close to where my family (wife and children) resided. This resulted in visits to each other’s homes. Being childhood friends, this made the visits cherished memories. Our children got to become friends, I got to see Erich’s family (mother, father, sisters, and brother—the other brother I haven’t seen since that time I haven’t told you about yet, but will) as well. Great times. However, it also gave me the opportunity to study. I don’t know when I picked up this skill, but somewhere I began to study people and their habits. Like in The Bourne Identity, when Jason Bourne is analyzing all those people and doesn’t understand how he can or why he is. It’s like that—just not as good. I just pick up on certain behaviors and tendencies without realizing I have, then I know my “opponent”. Maybe it’s a military thing? I’m not sure. Regardless of why/how, I noticed things about one of Erich’s regular actions that I would later take advantage of.
Where I live, like a lot of places I am sure, there are a couple of thrift stores. You know, the kind of shops where people donate used clothes, furniture, or whatever, and then the shop resells them. Those type of thrift stores. Anyway, I like to peruse their wares as I can often find all manner of goodies from classic vintage clothes to broken items that I can disassemble for parts to be used for other projects. So many potential treasures. Well, one time while wandering about the isles of thrift I came across a beauty of an old doll that moved my mischievous mind into a sinister meditative mode.
See, Erich—like many people—doesn’t like clowns. Maybe he watched the 1982 Poltergeist movie too many times (if you don’t understand the reference, then take some time and watch the film, I’ll wait)…
Back already? Good. So anyway, maybe Erich witnessed some horrific moments with Bozo the Clown (if you don’t know him, Google it, I’ll wait)…
Back already? Good. So, where were we? Right! Maybe Erich was traumatized by a gang of clowns pouring out of a tiny car (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, never mind, I’m moving on with this story). The point is Erich doesn’t like clowns, so when I found an old vintage clown doll at the thrift store… I knew exactly what to do.
Erich’s home was only about a 50-minute drive from mine. Add in some time to set-up the prank and the drive back, I was looking at about 2 hours of time invested. The doll itself was only $10.00. This was something that was totally worth investing in.
The plan was this: Usually, on Friday evenings Erich, myself, other friends, and maybe some of our children, would get online to play Call of Duty: Zombies, or other online games. We get to hang out, catch up on what’s going on at work, with families, etcetera. It’s been a great tradition to keep in touch as time and distance has grown. Knowing this, I would need to set this prank up on a Thursday night so that on Friday night, I could have some fun teasing—and being harassed by—Erich over the whole evil scheme. See, a good prank also allows the prank-er to mess a little more with the prank-ee in the after-glow of said prank. (I’m a good friend)
In order for this mastermind of a prank to work, I would need to drive to Erich’s abode between midnight and one o’clock in the morning. This way, the family would be asleep. Sure, I would be tired and need chemical support—in the form of an energy drink—the next day, but it was going to be worth it all. So, the next Thursday night—after convincing my wife that I needed to buy that old clown doll—I placed that creepy old clown doll in the seat next to me and began the drive to execute my latest evil machination. All the time knowing full well how it was going to end. (I’m a good friend)
Upon approaching the target zone, I parked my car a couple of blocks away. This way, I could walk up to the home (in case someone might be awake and see my car) and execute the prank set-up, then just walk away. Also, if anybody happened to drive by, I could duck into the shadows. Because, if I were to be seen rummaging through my buddies truck in the middle of the night, with my car on—and nearby, I would look like a robber. Can’t have that.
Once I was on the property everything was just as I needed it to be. House lights off. Nobody roaming about, or awake. The truck that Erich drove to work each early morning had its windows rolled down (he liked the cool, fresh morning air). Perfect.
The only thing left to do was take the old, two-foot-tall, worn (but still poseable) clown doll and put it into position. Remember how I said I notice things? Well, Erich had a routine. His truck was almost always parked in the exact same position in his driveway. It was at a slight angle away from the house door. This was done to help shade it and diffuse the days heat from the interior, and maximize the breeze through the cab. Also, it minimized tree debris from falling inside (like leaves and small branches). However, this position also allowed the passenger side to be obscured from direct view. As well as some of the driver’s seat. (I knew all this because: I’m a good friend)
I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect series of events to make this prank better (including being closer, because if I was, Erich might have gotten immediate revenge upon me—remember: A good prank is well thought out). The clown was just tall enough, and his arms were just long enough so that he could lean back just enough, against the truck’s seatback, for support, and still reach the steering wheel while keeping the arms out of a direct line-of-sight until the last possible moments. I then carefully turned the head to be facing any approaching persons. (I’m a good friend)
Erich would exit his home about 5ish in the morning to go to work. He would be slightly groggy, up until he got behind the wheel (you know that early morning sleepy that you kind of have as you go about your morning routine, because it’s all routine, but then there is that moment of “Gotta be totally awake now”—this is what I was using to my advantage). He would have his satchel of papers and whatever under his left arm (maybe cradled in both, in front of him—even better), his energy drink—that he said tastes like liquid Smarties candy—would be in his left hand, his right hand would have his keys, and his head would be down looking at said keys while he searched for the one that belonged to the truck’s ignition. It would be in this distracted/focused state that he would reach his truck, and it would be this distracted/focused state that would allow for the clown to remain hidden. (I’m a good friend)
As my buddy was within one foot of his truck, his right arm extending so as to allow the attached hand to operate the latch mechanism that would open the driver’s side door, the focus changed.
Erich did not get to follow through with his normal routine of: Open truck door, place stuff on passenger-side seat, drink in drink-holder, buckle-up, drive away. No, he now had to contend with: A two-foot-tall, weathered, aged-yellow/white face with chipped red paint showing a (now creepily) ear-to-ear grin, eyes wide open framed with red rectangles, clown doll. And he was dressed in a white & blue wide-striped jumpsuit with tattered frilled collar and cuffs, with pom-poms adorned along the front, calmly holding the steering-wheel and smiling as if to say, “Good morning. Would you like a ride to work?” (I’m a good fiend)
When greeted in this fashion, Erich responded exactly as I expected: He quickly thrust his hands into the cab of the truck, simultaneously throwing his belongings inside while grabbing the throat of the clown doll (as if it were actually alive and threatening his life). After thoroughly throttling the lifeless doll, Erich slammed it onto the ground and crushed its head with his boot-heel. Then, he kicked it under one of his tires. To ensure the clown was dead, Erich backed-up over it, then drove forward over it, then backed-up over it, then drove forward over it, then revved his engine and peeled out so when the tire grabbed the focus of his hate and shot it forward—like a cannon firing a cannonball, it flew off into the dark distance of the early morning. (I’m a good friend)
At about 5:15 that Friday morning, I was rudely awakened from a deep (and much needed) sleep, by a text—from Erich—that read: “I hate you.”
Time invested: Two-and-a-half hours.
Clown doll: $10.00.
Text at 5 o’clock in the morning letting me know just how much my best friend hates me because of what I did: Priceless.
April Fools! This never happened (the clown prank part—everything else was real), but it almost did. I did find that clown, and I almost bought it—just so I could do what you just read. Now, if you think that I would do something like that, you’re right. I would. But I didn’t, because: I’m a good friend.