Teenage Punchline, Mischief night, 1970


Being the youngest of five boys I was pretty much predestined to be the practical joker of the family. Sometimes pissing off your big brothers is the only way to get noticed, even if the result is a painful punch in arm. I swear there must have been a target on my upper arm because each one of them wailed on my arm in the exact same spot. But pain aside it was worth the effort to piss them off. Dirty smelly sock in their pillowcases, fake puke on their dressers, fake shit in the bed, fly in the ice cube, dirty soap, stink bombs, I did it all. My cornerstone trick was to place a book atop the lightly opened door so when they came home drunk it would crack them in the head as they walked in That is until the last time I pulled it using my chemistry book my middle brother. He was so pissed when that heavy text book crashed on top of his head he threw it towards my head as I lay in bed giggling odd job style effectively turning the periodic tables on me.

So mischief night was pretty much a challenge to me. TP’ing trees were cool and if trivial history reports can be believed it was when a brown bear first experienced the joy of the softness of Charmin. Shaving cream flowed like silly string and eggs got hurled by the dozens, but everyone did that. Of course a bag of strategically placed dog shit set on fire was popular but using the front stoop was beneath me. It was up to me to raise the mischief stakes.

I choose my victims wisely most of the time. On this particular evening I thought it woul be hilarious to care my steady girlfriend. Her younger brother was enlisted to distract and prepare her with some scary stories. The usual array, maniacs in cemeteries on the loose, strange noises and typical Goosebumps style tales. So my cute little blond high school sweetheart was feeling a bit anxious when I set my plan in motion. I had snuck in her house, into her room and hidden myself in her hamper. I know it seems kinda creepy now but back then I wasn’t a pervert yet. There I waited while her brother warned her about the lunatic seen around the neighborhood the last few nights. Coupled with the twice told tales I was certain she was on edge and when I surprised her she would jump ten feet in the air. It was all I could do to contain my laughter covered in her dirty laundry as I imagined the results.

I heard her enter her room and tried to ascertain exactly where she was so I could get the most benefit. I lifted the top of the hamper up ever so slightly and slowly hoping to get a good view when I noticed her walking directly toward me. As she got into striking distance I jumped up throwing the hamper lid in the air and gave her my best maniacal goblin scream. That night I learned something new I had not even considered. I learned that my cute tiny little blonde bombshell had a right hook that could earn her the golden gloves award.

My head snapped sharply to the right and I could feel my eye socket swelling already. By the time I regained my composure and turned to face her loud scream prepared me for the delivery of the left cross that was to follow. That cute little bundle of fifteen year old sweetness damn near knocked my ass out. I went reeling to the ground and she stood over me like a warrior ninja waiting to finish me off. When she realized it was a lame attempt to scare her and she had just punched the shit out of her boyfriend the mood changed. Huge surprises come in small packages. She hit harder than my brothers.

Now of course there is a silver lining here, my cute little hey babe felt absolutely horrible for having put my lights out and causing my eye and cheek to swell up coaxing her to apply the perfect amount of tender loving care for a sixteen year old impressionable boy. I just never imagined the impression she made would be on my face. After a number of kissing and soothing followed by a hint at possible extreme measures to make me feel better the reality set in. “What the hell were you doing hiding in my laundry trying to scare me?” I rubbed my sore face and decided the prudent thing to do was leave that unchallenged and just apologize. No more mischief for me….PEACE

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