Jokes and pranks : animal house relived : university life
A book excerpt from the Iconoclast Press online library.
I had my day of revelry and laughter, to be sure. And by that I mean I had many years of ribaldry, tomfoolery, pranksterism, and otherwise attempting to cause others as much brotherly grief as possible. And when the final accounts are taken, those years of uproarious delinquency might actually balance out against the debits of melancholy with enough credits of fatuity that my ledger will be clean.
Much jocularity existed in my life during my early years, and reached a sustained crescendo while I was in university, for by then academia had turned sour for me, and I had become painfully bored of the whole mess, and then downright contemptuous, which is why I turned swiftly away from those hackneyed ways and took up my higher calling of beer swilling, partying, and causing as much catastrophic turmoil to my mates as I could muster.
In a way I must have already made the decision against studies, and for carousing, on the first day of frosh week, because upon arriving in the massive co-ed dorm in which I was to live out my first year of university, I was asked by one of the floor supervisors to assist a few other freshmen to move a large number of cases of beer from the lockup into a common room where soon the inaugural festivities were to begin. And so I trundled up many flights of stairs with the others, and into the lockup, and when we came out- each of us toting forty-eight bottles of beer- the rest of the crew turned right, and I turned left, and ran right back down those same flights of stairs and into my dorm room, and suddenly I was a couple of cases of beer to the good, which, combined with the two forty-ounce bottles of Jamaican 151 proof rum I had brought in my suitcase, made for a fair beginning to the wild and wonderful frosh week about to begin. The mayhem had started.
Soon enough I was linked to a gang of jokers and jackals, and if we weren’t scaling the outside of buildings in drunken bravado, we’d be hiding on one of the upper balconies, and showering cabbies and cops with a sortie of eggs. And if that turned monotonous we’d be covering people’s rooms in shaving cream, maple syrup, or wet flour.
Or perhaps we’d forsake the unrelenting desire to cause material grief, and would instead enter upon some well thought-out psychological damage, like sneaking into a person’s dorm room in the middle of the night, then slowly placing an obnoxious sounding music tape into their stereo cassette, cranking the volume to full, and then getting out of the room before the silent leader on the tape had ended and the apocalypse begun.
It was astonishing, after such an event, if one of our hapless victims came bursting out of their room in a fit of anguish or rage, to see how bone-white their flesh had become, after being awakened unexpectedly in such traumatic fashion.
Unfortunately most of the victims caught on quickly and would be sure to lock their doors at night, a factor which we soon got around, however, by hiding wind-up alarm clocks in remote areas of their rooms, sometimes in the deepest recesses of the hanging ceilings, while the luckless sots were being distracted out of their rooms, during the day, by a comrade.
I would lie in my own bed later that night fighting off the giggles while thinking of the alarm firing off at 3:00 am, and the ensuing search and accompanying agony and fury involved. It was no less than pure joy to bring such catastrophic novelties into another’s life. Pure joy.
The next year I moved into a nine-bedroom house, which left the other poor occupants as sitting ducks, for now even locked front doors could not keep me and my accomplices out, for the villainy lived within. This caused the inhabitants to suffer ongoing calamities such as having their toothpaste tube injected with Preparation H, which, if you know anything about that hemorrhoid ointment, has quite a severe burning effect when spread upon soft tissue.
And if that wasn’t enough, and it wasn’t, I was in the habit of carrying around with me a small tube of oral novocain gel, which came out of the tube clear, and therefore could be squeezed inconspicuously amongst the bristles of an unguarded toothbrush, without the owner noticing- not, that is, until they had finished brushing their teeth and the entire inside of their mouth had been frozen numb- a startling and inexplicable occurrence which caused no little amount of hypochondria and worry.
No one was safe nor immune from such antics, and though I certainly received my fare share of retribution from the victims, the assaults upon my well-being simply spurred me on further.
As such, one night my pernicious comrades and I completely outdid ourselves.
It happened one evening, during my second year of institutional torture, when four of us were living in the basement quarters of that big nine-bedroom house.
A buddy and I snuck stealthily on all fours into one of the lower bedrooms occupied by a woman friend of ours, while she was asleep in bed. But this time not only did we set the alarm to go off in the middle of the night; we also set the clock forward, so that when it rang the clock would read 7:30 am. Time to get up.
Furthermore we hung a light-bulb outside of the house, near her window, to simulate morning, and a few hardy, determined cretans and I stayed up until 3:00 am, sitting in our night-clothes, in the downstairs kitchen, and eating cereal, so that when her alarm went off, and she thought it was 7:30 in the morning, she got up, had breakfast with us, did her hair, made her lunch, and left for school soon afterward.
Boy did we pay for that one, though it didn’t deter us, not even slightly. As much psychological confusion and damage as we could mete out without doing personal injury- that was our unwritten modus operandi.
Another strategic assault upon an individual’s peace and self-confidence came in a few bold maneuvers against a wiry, young Bermudian fellow who had come to Canada for his university education and who was rooming with one of my mates at the time. This bloke returned to Bermuda every Christmas, spring-break, and summer holiday, and he once told us that everyone who entered Bermuda, be they citizens or visitors, was subjected to a thorough search of their luggage, as the authorities were painstakingly neurotic about drug smuggling.
One night before he flew home, this fellow had passed out from an excess of drink, which allowed us to sneak the filthiest, most horrific, triple-x pornographic magazine we could find into his suitcase, of which he knew nothing, until he was standing in the Bermuda airport, with a brutal hangover, in front of the customs officer going through his bags, and suddenly she had the periodical in hand and was holding it up in somber scrutiny, at which point the poor wretch became mute with disbelief.
That was a good one, but we weren’t through with him yet. He was still smiling too much. Thus I took it upon myself to enter his bedroom whenever I was over visiting my buddy, who was his roommate, and the unfortunate lad was out, the intent of which was to turn his waterbed heater up to full blast, which, if you know anything about water, heat, and convection, would cause the temperature to rise slowly, but then become a steaming cauldron which would not cool down for days after the mischief had been discovered. Often he was pissed at me for a few hours when he discovered that his pancreas was overheating, but he soon got over it and all was forgotten. That is, until the time his roommate and I installed an extra, hidden heater under his water mattress, and ran the electric cord out the back corner, and into an unused plug, and then turned both heaters on full blast. And my God did we howl.
About a week later the Bermudian lad was in a fit of rage, claiming that I must have broken his waterbed heater because he had discovered that it had been turned up, again, a few days earlier, and although he had turned it down, the water was still a boiling vat, upon which he was writhing in sweat and discomfort every night.
Well, in the practiced, matter-of-fact presence which I had come to embody at times requiring such histrionics, I simply denied having broken his heater, which was true, and dismissed his charges as pure libel.
Three weeks later my partner in crime and I entered the abject fellow’s room when he was out, and found the heater we had surreptitiously installed under his bed now severed from its wiring harness, as if our victim must have finally stumbled upon it, and in a fit of deranged mania torn it in half, a feat requiring no small amount of determination nor strength, and one which, upon observing the outcome of our games, left us in uncontrollable eruptions of hysterics and cackles, the magnitude of which may have even given Hank, the laughing saint, respect for our zealous and passionate undertakings.
(excerpted from Roots and Wings: adventures of a spirit on earth, by Jack Haas)
Books by Jack Haas. Autobiography, Memoir, Spirituality, Mysticism, Comparative Religion, Poetry, Art, Photography.