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Monday, December 14, 2009

Topic: Practical Jokes are neither Practical nor Jokes.....Discuss!

Have you ever fallen for the old whoopee cushion on the chair?  Or, how about the hand buzzer? Maybe the flower that squirts water? Maybe you were the one playing the pranks?  I thought I would always be the one watching from the sidelines, until one day I was the kid staring in awe at the display of gags & novelties in a hobby shop in Wakefield R.I.

Convincingly designed and cleverly packaged, these objects dangled empowerment over women, seniors, and other kids. Watch as you cause them to shriek or gasp at the fake vomit on the bathroom sink, or moan at the generous load of dog crap on the carpet.  The awe I held for these pranks transcended time, and maturity to the point where I can't help but grab one of these oddities when I see them at a sale

The itching powder and "Soot soap" with their eye-catching multi-lingual package designs are great and the reason why I couldn't pass them up (both unused). As for the ice cubes...I don't know where I got the ices cubes, they may have come in a box lot of items.  They look deadly for their choking hazard design.  I don't know why it would be funny to prank someone with a nail in an ice cube, these come across more as some "gateway" prank to homicide.

I remember thinking when I was a kid back then, Does any of this stuff really work?

It did for the manufacturers, because they produced a ton of it, and they still do.  The one item I will never forget were  cigarette  "LOADS".  That little red can with the tiny wood slivers that promised to turn a cigar or cigarette into shreds. I've got one around here somewhere....Ready the image and cue the flashback music. (please click to read more)

It was 1978 and my dad and I were watching some series about 2 guys driving 18 wheelers across the country and the adventures that ensued. Yes, we were in the post "Smokey and the Bandit" era. The CB craze was a big 10-4, and my father and I watched and bonded while he puffed away.  He was a smoker, not one of those pack-o-day types, he smoked Eric cigars. They were much classier that cigarettes, though they looked exactly like cigarettes, just brown like a stogy with  fewer to a package.  Somewhere earlier in the week I had bought a tin of "Loads" and in the neighborhood they were put through a kind of adolescent R&D. We'd already tried lighting them on the edge of a table, tossed them in a fire, and then in a cigarette.   Unlike most novelties these were true to their promise. (They actually had a warning on the can that said keep away from children, though maybe it was just  a suggestion. ) Someone eventually volunteered to be the guinea pig and after several puffs a loud "SNAP" followed and tobacco flew everywhere leaving the paper wrapper hanging limp across the victims face.  This caused us to whoop it up pretty good.   We had no choice but to then find some real victims. Who else but our parents?

As I recall, my dad and I were having a pretty good time watching that show when "SNAP!" just like in the "lab" tobacco and even my dad seemed to respond to the shock wave.  I think he was pretty stunned, and I couldn't keep from suppressing a brief snicker at a sight I'd already seen a thousand times watching TV cartoons.  Well, his shock turned to anger and I think he sent me to my room, or at least out of his proximity while he searched around on the floor for his dignity. I was somewhat upset for spoiling the good time we were enjoying in front of the tube.  I pondered my fate only briefly before my father found me and took a completely different tack than I'd expected.
He acquiesced and interpreted the "attack" as a way to get him to stop smoking.  I supposed there was some truth to that as I never really though much of his habit. In the end, he took stock in how ridiculous he must have looked and laughed as he retold it to my mother.  Or, that's the way I'd like to remember it.

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