Practical Jokes

Don and the Mysterious Locked Suitcase

One time at church camp I had a roommate named Don who was very private and security-conscious. He always locked his suitcase and kept the key on a chain around his neck. Of course, this caused my fellow roommates and I to be even more determined to get in his suitcase.

Late one afternoon before dinner, he went to take a shower. We tried jimmying the lock to no avail. We eventually came up with the idea of taking the key chain from the hook in the little drying-off area outside the individual showers.

We raced back to the room with the key and unlocked the suitcase. We didn’t mess up anything or take anything, except to take out his camera. Stripped down to our underwear, we took pictures of each other with his camera, put the camera back in the suitcase, locked it up, the returned the key chain back to the hook. In Don’s thinking, nothing ever happened.

That fall we had a reunion, and Don thanked us for the extra pictures.

Punk-Rocker Surprise

My brother Dan went to the University of Michigan, just about an hour from my parent’s home. I was five hours away at Miami University in Ohio. I arranged to pick up Dan and surprise our parents. I also brought along some props to make it an even bigger surprise.

We got home and came into the house. I put on a multicolored punk-rock wig and some gold wraparound glasses. We came into the house, and Dan called out, “Hi, Mom, I’m home.”

My mom called out that she was back in her bedroom. Dan went back there, and I was a bit behind in the hallway. Dan said, “Hi, Mom, I just wanted to surprise you for the weekend.”

My mom said, “Oh, Dan, it’s so great to see you.”

“I brought a friend with me from my fraternity,” he said as I came in the room. “Mom, this is John.”

“Hi, John, it’s nice to meet you.”

It was then that I pulled off the sunglasses and wig to her total surprise. We all got a good laugh.

Scaling the Wall of Dodd’s Hall

Chris and Terry were gone for the night, and Scott and I knew they would be home very late and in an altered state when they returned home. We tried getting into their room by picking the lock. Nothing worked.

I looked at their room from the outside and noticed that they had left their window open about three or four inches. Unfortunately they lived on the second floor. There was a gutter going up the wall near their window, so I climbed it and supported my foot on a half-inch ridge of brick. I pried open the screen with a butter knife and pulled myself in through the window. I opened the door for Scott and now the fun began.

We turned every poster in the room upside down, turned over every drawer in their dresser using record albums (you remember those, don’t you?), and short-sheeted their beds. The thing that freaked them out the most was when we put their lounge chair on the top bunk along with their TV and its stand. We stuffed some of their clothes to make a dummy with a pint of rum in its hand.

I tried as hard as I could to stay awake until they returned, but I didn’t make it—they got home around 3 a.m. I heard later that they were stunned. Chris had never heard of short-sheeting and thought he had grown enormous that the night. It was a great joke.

Need a Friend?

Bruce and John shared a bathroom with my roommate and I during my sophomore year at Miami University in Ohio. We got along well, and I thought they wouldn’t mind a little prank on April Fool’s Day. I was a bit wrong.

The first thing I did was sneak into their room during the middle of the night and move all their clocks ahead an hour. For good measure, I propped a plastic cup of water over their door into the bathroom. I was already out when John woke up early, but figured he got hit with the water because he noticeably ignored me as I walked past him on my way up back to the dorm (which was an hour earlier than John normally went to the library, for some reason).

Another thing I did was print up fliers with both of their pictures on it with the headline “Need a Friend?” The fliers recounted the things they would do for you as your friend—play tennis, help with homework, or just lend a sympathetic ear. I put up about 10 of them on bulletin boards around campus, including the one outside our cafeteria.

Bruce found one of them after lunch and had it in his hand when he stormed into my room, demanding, “I want you to go out and take down every single one of these,” then storming back out. An hour or so later I came back to him with a stack of the fliers and a sincere apology.

So I was a bit wrong about Bruce and John’s ability to take a joke, but I thought it was funny. And isn’t that what good practical jokes are all about? I called Bruce recently on the 21st anniversary of the prank, and we had a good laugh.

Janet’s New Boyfriend

Janet was a girl I had spent a lot of time with while spending the summer with a bunch of other college students in virginia Beach, va. She went to school at Eastern Michigan, and I was in the area visiting my friend Doug at the University of Michigan. I wanted to start dating her and arranged with Janet’s roommate to surprise her.

Doug and I went over to Janet’s apartment to wait with her roommate. I had this hideous old-man mask. Her roommate knew she’d be back around 9, so we waited in their third-floor apartment. We had a good view of the parking lot she’d be coming in.

Anyway, she did show up, strutting across the parking lot holding hands with her boyfriend—something I had no idea about. I was stuck. When Janet came through the door with her boyfriend, I was sitting in the corner with my old-man mask on, thoroughly embarrassed.

Disguising my voice, I told her she had to guess who I was. She never did, and I pulled the mask off. She was certainly surprised, and we had a good evening catching up. But the night didn’t turn out the way I wanted. There was no Janet in my future, for she was married by the next summer.

The joke was on me, albeit unintentionally.

The Perfect Climbing Tree

My roommates and I planned on camping in the mountains surrounding San Bernardino in California. Jonathan and Scot got up there early to get us a good spot and I came up later with our other roommate, Dave. They had called ahead to tell us the spot where on campsite was.

We got there late in the afternoon and the campsite was empty. Scot and Jonathan must be out exploring. Dave was still down the hill pulling stuff out of the car. I saw this great tree nearby where I could jump down on Dave and scare him. I got up in the tree when I heard some snickering. In the tree above me were Scot and Jonathan. They had the same idea.

I don’t know if we were able to scare Dave because we were laughing too much. Great minds think alike.