My Grandpa Quam liked to strike at Christmas. It may seem unsuspecting but it became quite a tradition. If the gift tag on a present said “From Santa” or remained blank, the recipient braced for the worst. Thank goodness I wasn’t old enough to be a target, or understand many of the gags.
Grandpa Quam’s joke career started in the one-room school house in Backoo, N.D. where he planted a live mouse in the teacher’s desk, dunked a girl’s braid in his ink well and often heard the teacher screech, “Duane – GO HOME!”
His jokes evolved over time and he kept up with technology. One of the more recent adventures involved a hidden sound machine and a remote that would replicate bodily functions. He always laughed until he cried.
That’s why I think he is still smiling down on me for the first and only really good practical joke that I ever pulled off.
During my sophomore year of college I had two roommates: Breanna and Kirsten. Kirsten hated it if anyone left the closet door open at bedtime. She would get so mad that she had to get up and close it every night. Breanna and I used that to make fun of her, asking if she was afraid of the Boogeyman. We found that just bugged her even more.
A few weeks after that discovery, Breanna and I brought home extra fortune cookies from dining service. Once we got back to our dorm room, we doctored one of them up for Kirsten. We carefully opened the plastic wrapping and used tweezers to remove the fortune. We typed out a new fortune and matched the font and size of the fortune to the original.
We used tweezers to put the new fortune in the cookie and then used double-sided tape to reseal the packaging.
Just when we cleaned up our practical joke working area, Kirsten came home. We casually tossed her the fortune cookie. My partner in crime and I also opened ours, while avoiding eye contact with each other.
We heard a loud gasp followed by a long pause.
Kirsten looked up from reading her fortune, “This is awful – what if a child would have gotten this one?”
We asked her what it said.
“It says ‘The Boogeyman lives in your closet,’” Kirsten said.
Don’t worry, she got me back a few hours later with a bucket of water and an angry hall director. I deserved it, but boy was that fortune cookie the highlight of my practical joke career.
I have since retired. Okay – semi-retired.