The Boys’ Prank
January 28, 2011 2 Comments
This weekend is the one-year anniversary of the most well-executed prank I can claim to have participated in. Whatever pranks you have pulled or fallen victim to in your lifetime, I doubt any of them can compare to the ingenuity and obscenity of our spectacle. Read on.
One of the benefits of being part of a fraternity-esque performance group in college was its appeal to traditions. Twice a year we threw “Keg of Sex” parties, so-named because, as a student organization, our kegs couldn’t officially have any alcohol in them. (Officially.) Before each performance the entire group engaged in tribal, ritualistic warm-ups that involved chanting, jumping and grunting. Even the drama and antagonism between members was traditional, in a sense.
Sometimes, whenever a particularly meaningful event occurred, we excited ourselves by labeling it a “tradition,” giving us an excuse to do it again the next year.
Among these faux-traditions was a battle of the sexes. A prank war, to be more specific.
Women are sadly underrepresented in the comedy world. Our improv group was no different, with the women outnumbered 3-to-1. A lot of factors contributed to this inequality. I’ll just say that men at UF tended to be abnormally aggressive, competitive, and stupid enough to obsess over something as petty as improv comedy instead focusing on their classes.
Naturally, from time to time the women in our group would get fed up with the men dominating every social function and arrange “ladies nights.” To some of the men, nothing could be more threatening. We saw these parties as feminist gunpowder plots, where the ladies would swap dirt on the men and unionize, pledging to cock-block us until we had no choice but to relinquish control over to them.
You could call us paranoid, but some of us were old enough to remember one Keg of Sex where all the hens huddled into a bedroom, and, though the content of their clucking remained a mystery, not a single cock crowed that night. Explain that one to me.
One day in spring 2008, the men decided to take action. The women were gathering at a Chinese restaurant, and all the men came together – friend and foe alike – to crash their dinner. After cramming into the men’s bathroom, one by one we approached their table, each addressing a different woman. “Ashley?” we would say for the whole restaurant to hear, “Is that you? Ashley! How are you?” After about five minutes of furious glares we filtered out. The upset restaurant manager told the ladies that if there were any more antics they would be asked to leave. They received shitty service the rest of the night. Crash successful.
Thus began a short-lived prank war, with some of the women getting revenge by stealing all of one guy’s sweatbands, and some of the guys striking back by fastening an “I (Heart) Cock” bumper sticker to a woman’s car. Eventually we reached an unspoken cease-fire and things cooled off.
The sleeping dragon would eventually return from its slumber. And sure enough, almost two years later, in January 2010, the boys were back in town.
Saturday, January 30, 2010, 7 p.m.
For it being such an elaborate plot, our planning was considerably rushed. We had just received word hours earlier that several of the women in our group were having a ladies-only party at their apartment in Lexington Crossing. Filup, the alpha male and one of the few remaining veterans from the 2008 wars, fired out a mass text to a number of men inviting us to be part of a “secret man mission.”
Some men, including fellow veterans Cory and me, couldn’t help but accept. Others had heard the legends and realized that any time someone invites you to a “secret man mission,” the only answer is “hell yes.” Others declined, leashed either by stingy girlfriends or by some foolish desire to be more mature. Among those who initially declined were Drew, who spent the night cooking, and Ricky, who at the time was more loyal to the women of the group than the men. That would change by the end of the night.
A group of eight or so men gathered in Filup’s bedroom in the TSF House. Our intel told us that the women were dress shopping for an upcoming charity date auction, and they would be meeting in about two hours at their apartment. We brainstormed several ideas, and eventually we pieced together a two-tiered attack. While it was sure to ruin the night, there was nothing in the plan that made it particularly exciting. No pizzazz. A fine meal with no “garnish.” We wanted to end our final semester at UF with fireworks.
At some point, someone – I honestly don’t remember who – suggested one particular element that turned people off at first. One guy backed out and left the room. Others shook their heads in skepticism.
“Where will we get it?”
“How will we package it?”
“Who will deliver it?”
Yet an eager excitement bubbled in the air – we can’t gradually became we must. The details fell into place and the remaining six conspirators – Filup, Cory, Devin, Daniel, Dan, and me – agreed we had to move forward. After a short search we found a “volunteer,” and we conceived a way to connect the twist to an earlier step in the plan, thus disguising it. All we needed was an inconspicuous stranger to deliver the package. An Enola Gay.
Daniel came to the rescue: “I have a large Ethiopian man who owes me a favor.”
With that beautiful reassurance we split up, each pair preparing for one of the phases: Filup and I to X-Mart (a local business selling erotic merchandise), Cory and Devin to Wal-Mart, Dan to Five Star Pizza, and Daniel to pick up his large Ethiopian friend. Filup made a few important phone calls on the way. The group all met in the parking lot outside the apartment and took care of some last minute preparations. Then, we waited.
At the “ladies night” were seven women: Kaylyn, Liz and Aileen (who lived there), Katie (who organized the party), April, Jessie, and Lindsey (Filup’s girlfriend). They wore pajamas and munched on fruit and veggie platters and a cake delivered by Aileen’s boyfriend.
Liz received a vague text message from Ricky: “Incoming enemy missiles.” Damn traitor.
Shortly after, there was a knock at the door.
PHASE ONE: BARRAGE
“Pizza Hut,” said the man in the hallway. He slipped a large supreme pizza out of his warmer bag and handed the women a two-liter of soda.
“We didn’t order any pizza,” the women replied.
Of course they didn’t. Filup did and had it sent to their address. It didn’t take long for the women to make the connection, but the explanation had no sway with the deliveryman, who demanded that they pay for the pizza anyway.
Outside, Filup’s iPhone lit up. He had received an angry text from one of the women.
“The Pizza Hut guy arrived,” he informed us. “He made them pay for it. They’re pissed.”
I nodded as I backed away from the trunk of Kaylyn’s car, which now had a freshly planted “I (Heart) Cock” bumper sticker on it. As did all the other ladies’ cars.
(To be fair, we fastened the stickers with balled up duct tape instead of sticking them directly to the cars. Immature, not cruel.)
A few minutes later came another knock at the door. This time it was a Chinese food deliveryman with a “Happy Family,” which is a large, multi-course family dinner. The women explained the situation and that they had no money to pay for the food. The Chinese man hung his head and walked away.
In the spectrum of pranks, fake deliveries are merely child’s play. Not very subtle, either. But that was the true intention of Phase One – to be so obvious too distract the women while we tagged their cars, and more importantly, to simply make them aware that they were under attack. A “Mr. Charles.”
There was only one discrepancy: There were only two deliverymen. According to the Rule of Threes worshipped by improvisers, you’d expect one more. More on that later.
For the next phase, we needed a Trojan Horse. Enter Cory.
PHASE TWO: BLITZKRIEG
Two things we knew for sure was that 1) for the next phase we would need to get inside the apartment, which basically meant we would need the women to open the door more than a crack, and 2) that the women only understood that they had been pranked, but they were unaware of the depth of the attack, or the exact identity of their attackers. They would soon find out.
A third knock at the door. Kaylyn answered it, cautiously creeping open the door at first. She found Cory, smiling sheepishly. She opened the door wider and put her hands on her hips, firing an accusatory glare at him.
Cory replied with apologetic eyes.
No other man on the team could pull this off. Cory, we realized, shared a deeper sense of trust with the women in the apartment. The rest of us were known to them as drooling, horny wolves – the kind of reputation a guy picked up thanks to things like ladies nights. But Cory was more in the friend-zone than the rest of us – “Yeah, they like Cory!” we agreed earlier that night – and he made the perfect bait.
“Hey…” Cory said.
Suddenly, the Trojans sprung to life. Daniel led the charge, pushing past Kaylyn and shoving the door wide open, trapping Liz behind it.
Inside, the women were blinded by streams of pink and green and deafened by the roar of six men belting in unison:
“IT’S RAINING MEN! HALLELUJA, IT’S RAINING MEN! AMEN!”
Each of the six had their pants around their ankles, thrusting their hips to make their penises sling back and forth in their boxers. Also, each was armed with two full cans of Silly String, which they used to blanket the apartment. The original intention was to spray the cans from the crotch region to evoke ejaculation, but that part was lost in the heat of the moment.
Within 20 seconds our cans were empty, but the damage was severe. Everything was covered in a colorful web: carpet, walls, the television and DVD rack, the ceiling fan, the cardboard cutout of Legolas, the Ninja Turtles Snuggie, the cake delivered by Aileen’s boyfriend, the Pizza Hut pizza that they paid for, etc. Most of the women huddled on the couch and miserably covered their faces and hair. As we ran out the door, one of the women shoved Filup. Liz chucked an empty Silly String can at Daniel’s head, barely missing.
We ran down the sidewalk towards the parking lot, cheering and laughing. Devin realized he lost his belt. We hopped in our cars and peeled out toward the Ale House for a victory party.
The women were stunned.
For sane people, this would account for a fitting climax to a night of pranks. Their party was ruined, their apartment wrecked. We made our statement, and the women were undoubtedly furious. It would have been tough to top that.
But we wanted fireworks.
PHASE THREE: THE CHERRY ON TOP
The women surveyed the damage and began balling up all the Silly String. They were fuming. Why can’t they just let us have one night to ourselves? Why do they have to make everything about them?
Then, another knock at the door.
Refusing to be caught off-guard again, they opened the door – with extreme caution this time.
A large black man that none of them had ever seen stood before them in the hallway. He wore a Gators windbreaker jacket and carried a pizza warmer bag with him.
“Five Star,” he said.
A third deliveryman. Rule of Threes. They figured that the pranksters must have expected him to arrive before the Silly String attack.
“Sorry,” they explained to the man, opening the door to show him the mess inside. “Some friends of ours have been playing pranks on us tonight. You aren’t the first delivery guy to come.”
“Oh,” the man said. “I see.”
“We’re so sorry, but we don’t have any money to give you for that pizza.”
The man sighed and looked down.
“Look,” he told the women. “It’s my last delivery of the night. It’s actually my last shift working for these guys. You can just have the pizza for free if you want.”
“Really?” the women said. “That’s so nice of you.”
He pulled the pizza box out of the warmer bag and handed it to them.
“He handed it over,” Daniel’s voice reported from Filup’s speakerphone as we drove to Ale House. “They have it now.”
“Great,” Filup said. “You guys get out of there.”
“Thank you so much!” the women said.
“It’s no problem, really,” the deliveryman said, turning away. “Have a nice night.”
“Wait a minute.”
The man stopped.
“Why did he stop?” Daniel’s voice gasped. “Something’s happening. Dude, get out of there! Get to the car! Run, G, r—”
Silence. The line was dead. Filup and I exchanged concerned looks.
“What is it?” the deliveryman asked the women.
“You’ve been so nice,” they told him. “At least let us tip you.”
Jessie handed the man three dollars. He took it, thanked them and stuffed the money in his pocket. They closed the door and he left in a hurry.
Inside the apartment, the women felt relieved to have at least some food that wasn’t ruined by the night’s pranks. Lindsey took the pizza box to the kitchen and opened it up.
There, resting contently in the center of the cheese pizza, was a pile of shit.
Some of the poop had smeared on the roof of the pizza box. The rest lay in a gooey heap atop the cheese and tomato sauce.
Lindsey called in the others to verify the discovery. After a collective whiff, the ladies knew for certain what they were dealing with. Lindsey closed the box and threw the entire thing into the hallway outside, slamming the door behind her.
At the Ale House, the seven of us – including Daniel’s Ethiopian friend, who went by the name “G” – celebrated our success with a round of beers. We marveled at our luck that Dan would own a pizza warmer bag and that Daniel would have a friend who was a complete stranger to all the women and who would be willing to play the role. We forced G and Daniel to repeat the final delivery tale over and over, giggling with glee every time G mentioned the detail that the women actually paid him three bucks for a shit pizza.
Most importantly, we swore an oath that we would never, ever reveal the origin of the poop, i.e., whose poop it was. I intend to continue to honor that oath today.
(I can tell you that Dan bought the pizza (sans-poop) from Five Star for $10. I can also tell you that no one physically squatted over the pizza and laid the fresh one on it. Imagine the precision necessary to hit the dead center of that pizza on the first go. It would have been a mess! For everything else – including what living creature actually produced the feces – I suggest you let loose your imagination.)
Sunday, January 31, 2010
One of the first indicators that our stunt wasn’t being received too well was a Facebook status Filup discovered on his iPhone. It was written by woman who was a mutual friend of ours, yet unrelated to the events of the night. Her status claimed to directly quote the guy who backed out during the planning stage:
“I told them that their plan was fucking stupid and then I went to watch [some movie].”
Filup replied with a comment that it was interesting that we never actually heard him say that, unless it was to himself as he meekly wormed away. Seconds later, the woman deleted her status.
Back at Ground Zero, reactions were mixed. Kaylyn and Liz, worried that the Silly String had stained the walls, were furious. Katie and Lindsey were shocked but somewhat amused and impressed at how elaborate the prank was. Kaylyn snapped at those two for not being upset enough over what had happened and went straight to bed after the cleanup, while Liz stayed up with them and talked for the rest of the night.
Meanwhile, Jessie, April and Aileen swore revenge. They weren’t going to let us get off scot-free. In a move that was reportedly discouraged by the other women, Aileen called her boyfriend – the one who delivered the cake, which was now ruined – and told him what happened. It’s not clear what exactly she said to him, but rumor has it that it was a call to action of sorts. Or, at least, that’s how the chivalrous boyfriend interpreted it.
At Ale House, Filup received a phone call from the boyfriend, and decided it best not to answer it. The boyfriend, we later realized, was hanging out with his buddies for the night. All of these guys were in our improv group and former students in the improv classes we taught, but for various reasons over the years some of them had come to not like some of us very much (probably because we were the kind of people who would put shit on a pizza). We heard a rumor that the boyfriend was trying to rally his buddies to have a rumble with us, but Aileen talked him out of it.
This news came as a shock to all of us. What? Seriously? People were going to physically fight us over a prank we pulled – on someone else, no less? Filup, recalling that Lindsey was the one to actually come face to face with the shit, found it amusing that someone was ready to defend Filup’s girlfriend’s honor… from Filup.
The women did indeed get their revenge, though I carried most of the burden. While the men had the decency to spare the women’s vehicles, the women had no intention of agreeing to those terms. Jessie, April and Aileen snuck up to my Altima as it was parked outside the TSF House and covered it with Vaseline and baby powder. I came outside and discovered the damage, and they drove by, spraying me with water guns filled with vinegar. Drew and Ricky came to my aid by scaring them off with a garden hose, but Ricky was met with a vinegar shot to the face. Poor guy. This is how they repaid him for that friendly text message warning.
I spent all night and most of the next day trying to scrub the clumpy goo off my car while evading the vinegar drive-bys. I couldn’t sleep, worried that they might return. Even several months later I still kept finding balled up residue in my windshield wipers. You reap what you sow, I suppose.
We woke up the next morning to find that the news of our prank (or, at least the final phase of it) had spread to our friends on Facebook. Some statuses were positive:
Me: “Amazed by what can be accomplished when men come together under a common cause.”
Filup: “Now that’s an actual TSF tradition.”
Meanwhile, the boyfriend and his buddies vocalized their dissent:
Buddy: “Remember when shitting on food was cool? Wait a minute…”
The boyfriend: “Know the difference between men and boys? Real men have better things to do on a Saturday night…” etc.
Filup and I spent our final few months at UF getting brought down to size with courageous, sassy online posts like these. But we had Twitter accounts too, and it was just as easy for us to post bold, faceless replies:
Filup: “Know the difference between men and boys? Real men don’t deliver cakes.”
Soon after, people had real conversations and apologized, and the tensions cooled off. It helps when both sides of a conflict are essentially good, reasonable people. The men took the women out for a feces-free dinner. It was comforting to end the war on a friendly note, though it was a bummer to see a brief moment in which, as Filup put it, “so many comedians had such poor senses of humor.”
It’s a memory that will be forever frozen in still frames of hyperbole and self-aggrandizement. It is far too easy for a spectator to reduce our actions as misogynistic, to simply conclude that a group of men degraded a group of women by giving them food with excrement on it.
I think that would miss what this was all about. Despite the initial “no gurlz allow’d” overtones, this was at its heart a celebration of tradition – as shallow as the tradition’s history may be – and an attempt by a group of children to give ourselves one last unforgettable adventure before we all parted ways and “grew up.” Yes, there were “victims” and “perpetrators,” but there was also a strong, mutual affection that evening that can really only be comprehended by the girls who tried to have a party and the boys who spoiled it. As silly, petty, and disgusting as the night was, I believe firmly that it was, in the end, a night of love.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…”