I am not a prankster. Historically I have a hard time differentiating between “hilarious” and “tragic“. There is a fine line there, and when it comes to pranking people, I have difficulty seeing it. Mostly it comes down to clean-up , with the best pranks having a funny-to-aggravating ratio of 2 to 1; wrapping everything someone owns in christmas paper works, because the impressive amount of hilarity counteracts the need to then unwrap everything. It’s comedic math 101, and it’s not something I traditionally have a knack for.
That was why in college when I discovered a friend of mine’s phone was having service issues, I saw a, uncharacteristically perfect opportunity. Whether the problem was with his phone, or his carrier, or magical interference(my money is on the ghost of Martin Cooper, the not-yet-dead inventor of the cellphone), these were the facts:
- He was unable to open text messages, and as this was in the pre-smart phone era, even when he flipped his phone open, he could only read the first word of every text he received.
- He could not see who was sending him any of these messages.
- Since it was more or less useless for anything but calling home, he left his phone in his dorm room, where for some inexplicable reason, he only got service at roughly 4:00am
Armed with this knowledge I schemed. I planned. I rubbed my palms together whilst snickering maniacally. And here’s what I arrived at:
All through December, whenever I found myself with a free moment, be it during meals, between classes, during boring classes, I would send him, in one word texts, the entirety of the “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. Over the course of a day, with his lack of service until the wee hours of the morning, this would build up a backlog of incoming texts, until 4:00am, when he would receive around 30, anonymous, messages in a row.
Now this might not be the most impressive prank in the world. It’s also not nearly subtle enough to count among the most clever. Nobody’s car ended up on a roof, and now brilliantly devised mechanisms were put into action; but I’ll be damned if watching this man slowly go mad, wondering who or what was sending him the poem wasn’t an absolute joy. The intent waiting, the knowing exactly what the next few messages were going to say(he knew the poem of course) but still keeping himself up until the barrage of one word texts arrived, being unable to sleep until: and. all. through. the. house. not. a. creature. was. stirring chimed in on his phone in 2 second intervals. Maybe this toed the line between mean and funny. Maybe. But I take pride in it, dammit.