Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pranks

Mix a little foolishness with your prudence: It's good to be silly at the right moment. ~Horace

I have never heard of Fruita Monument, but that's okay; they've never heard of me, either. At any rate, they are getting their flash of fame across the Internet right now because a) they pulled a senior prank, and b) it got greenlighted on FARK, which means it's all over the WWWeb. Well allow me a "big, fat, hairy deal" comment right here because, as we say down here, they ain't such a much.

For the record, the Fruita Monument seniors (which evidently refers to a high school class, not the residents of a retirement village) pulled a senior prank consisting of welding a car around a flag pole.

What a bunch of amateurs.

Of course, in our modern era, senior pranks have become a standard part of the curriculum, ranging from the mildly amusing to the generally destructive and everything in between. Such things used to have panache, some derring-do, or as Sherlock Holmes would say, "A touch! A definite touch!"

Just so all you Fruitas know what I mean, let me introduce you to the Madison, Ohio, Class of 1966.

Madison had a history of senior pranks, which, regrettably, I no longer can enumerate because they happened over 43 years ago, and there's only so much room in my personal memory bank. The 1966 event sticks in my mind though. To begin with, we were in homeroom that morning when a motorcade of Madison seniors came careering through our parking lot. That told us something a little unusual was going on.

To begin with, Madison High officials had decided they didn't want to be pranked on that particular day (if I recall correctly, Madison had a Senior day; we didn't, durn it). The powers-that-be contacted the local gendarmes and asked them to keep guard over the school grounds all night to ensure that no hijinks could occur.

Well, Madison was (and is) a small town, and it wasn't like they could keep a patrol car there all night, so around 5 or 6 AM, the cop decided that nothing was going to happen, so he went home. Not a good idea.

Evidently, the seniors had kept watch and were waiting for just this opportunity. With planning that rivaled Eisenhower's at Normandy, they swooped in with their sawed-in-half VW, which they promptly welded around the flagpole. They then went the Fruitas one, or rather four, better. One by one, they tied the cars tires to the flag pole rope and hoisted them to the top. With a sharp pull, they flipped each tire over and lowered down the pole. So, when school officials, teachers, and students came wandering in, they saw not only a VW wtih a flag pole going through it; they also saw four tires neatly stacked on top.

And nary a senior to be seen, because they were parading around our parking lot, among other places.

You see, it's one thing to weld a car around a flag pole. It's another thing to weld a car around a flag pole and pile four tires on top of it. And it's quite another thing to weld a car around a flag pole and stack four tires on it when the school has had a guard in place to keep you from doing it.And, none of them came sheepishly forward to confess. The best pranks are those where no one gets hurt, nothing gets damaged, and everyone may know who did it, but no one can pin it on them.

Over at Geneva High School, we weren't much for pranks. First of all, my class, the Class of '66, had a bit of a persecution complex anyway. For some reason, throughout our academic careers, we were always being chosen to be guinea pigs for some new teaching technique or wonderful new text book or amazing new testing technique. To add insult to injury, we didn't seem to get much love from the teachers. The class ahead of us seemed to be smarter and better looking, or so teachers seemed to imply with the comparisons of our performance to theirs. Well, sure they were smarter, they got to use the good text books while you were giving us the weird ones.

Since they went back to the older techniques after the experiments didn't work on us, they figured the class that followed us was smarter and better looking, too.

We were the ugly ducklings, except we never got to turn into swans.

So, by the time we were seniors, all we wanted to do was graduate and get on with life. Pranks? Who needs 'em?

Well, there was the incident about the "[Principal's name] Go Home!" painted on the side of the building, but that wasn't us, although we were unjustly accused. A couple of underclassmen were outed for that one.

We did have one little moment, though. In the fall, there were hayrides (Lord, this is another age) given at Kiwanis Park by, naturally enough, the Kiwanians. The park was down a hill from the high school, a distance I would put at around a mile or less. A group of enterprising souls, made up mostly, if not completely, of seniors, hauled the wagon up the hill and endeavored to raise it onto the roof of the gym.

Now, we're talking about a haywagon here, which is not a lightweight article. These guys managed to push, pull, and otherwise manhandle this thing up a reasonably steep grade, roll it to the front of a two-story gym and then, somehow, begin to haul it to the roof. Unfortunately, they were interrupted when they had only managed to get two wheels hung on the roof, so that the wagon was hanging off the roof like a huge Thanksgiving decoration. The miscreants were able to make their escape with the wagon in that condition, where it was seen by the entire student body as they came in that morning.

Well, the entire student body but me. Wouldn't you know I picked that morning to be the first and only time I'd be late the entire year. But, I sure heard about it.

Now came the inquisition. There was a group of guys who had formed the -- and I am most certainly not making this up -- White Shirt and Tie Club or the WSTC, and, as I recall, they were considered prime suspects.

Keep in mind that this was a more innocent time. Today a bunch of guys in white shirts and skinny ties would probably be white supremacists or rogue accountants-in-training or something similarly sinister. Back then, it was just a bunch of guys who thought it would be fun to show up for pep rallys dressed to the nines.

At any rate, because this group had more than its share of well-known class jokers, they were considered to be guilty until proven innocent. One by one, there were called to the Office and grilled mercilessly. Well, maybe not mercilessly but definitely endlessly. Finally, one of them cracked and admitted to doing the deed -- by himself, with no assistance from anyone.

Remember, we're talking about a full size haywagon hauled up a hill and halfway up the side of a two-story building. By one guy. One really unathletic guy. Eventually, they got a couple more confessions which followed the same tune. One guy hauling that haywagon up from the park and almost up to the roof. No amount of threats or cajoling could get anyone to change their story, so the whole thing was dropped.

In the end, it's not the prank; it's the chutzpah.

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