I have a whole new appreciation for Ashton Kutcher.
See, when I first heard there was going to be a humor issue of The Statement on April Fool’s Day, I had what I thought at the time to be a brilliant idea. I’m going to pull stupid pranks on unsuspecting University students and write about it.
Little did I know that “punking” strangers involves two things: an utter disregard for the well-being of those around you and a douchebag factor of at least 85 on a 100-point scale. So kudos to you, Mr. Kutcher. Your inherent assholeness is quite an impressive feat.
I have no problems with pranks — when they’re between friends who have a legitimate shot at seeking revenge. One of my crowning achievements is placing an open can of mustard-flavored anchovies under the seat of my friend’s car. It roasted in the sun and smelled for days.
And nothing beats putting Spam under car-door handles.
But as my friends and I brainstormed ideas for this piece, there was one recurring theme: I felt like a prick just thinking about doing this stuff. The ideas rolled in:
Saran-wrap the toilets in Angell Hall. Not only would I totally ruin a stranger’s day, but I’m pretty sure that’s, like, a felony or something.
Pour baby oil all over a hallway. Hilarious until someone breaks a bone or gets oil all over his or her term paper, which would inevitably spur some especially intense students to violence.
Streak naked through the streets of Ann Arbor. And land myself on the sex offender list.
But since I committed to this assignment, I had to bite the bullet and do some stupid things. I decided all I needed was some fishing wire, Silly String, a banana costume (try and imagine the look on the store clerk’s face as she rang up that order) and the testicular fortitude to go through with this.
So, Saturday night, I sat calmly on the corner of my bed, breathing deeply and convincing myself that no one was going to catch me as I sprinted past the line at Scorekeeper’s armed with two cans of Silly String.
I meticulously slipped the banana suit over my body and sighed. It was kind of like that scene before the big fight in “The Wrestler”, where I didn’t know if I would survive the wrath of on-the-prowl, button-down-shirted Skeep’s patrons.
The only thing I could say on the car ride there was, “This is a bad idea.” Frat-tastic bros, alcohol, having to stand in an enormous line and some little jackass in a banana costume spraying everyone with green foam — well, you can see how that’s just not a good mix. It took me a good minute to finally step out of the car, but once I did, it was on.
I ran toward the line, my Silly String cocked and loaded. At first, no one reacted as the foam floated over the hoards of miniskirts shuffling towards the door. But then it came:
“Hey, fuck you, asshole!” people screamed. I had one thing to my advantage: no one wanted to sacrifice their place in line to come punch me in the head.
As I doubled back to spray everyone again, I felt hands grabbing for me, heard more obscenities screamed at me and watched as girls in tight, shiny tops acted as if the Silly String was acidic instead of, well, just Silly String.
I saw one guy duck under the rope, and I knew it was time to G.T.F.O., if you know what I’m saying. Channeling the type of strength a mother has when her child is in danger, I full-out leaped over the hood of a car to get out to the street and away from the line.
I looked back to see one bro running after me, screaming, “Hey, fucker, get back here!” I hopped in the getaway car, two freshly empty cans of Silly String in my hands, shaking from adrenaline and excitement. My getaway driver was incredulous that I had gone back down the line to spray everyone again.
If prank one was one big rush of adrenaline, prank two was all about being patient.
My friend and I taped a five-dollar bill to a long string of clear fishing wire. The resulting prank was exactly like a long, boring day of fishing.
We stood off of South University Street, near TCF Bank, with the money sitting in a very visible place on the sidewalk. If there’s one lesson to be learned, it’s that no one at the University looks down when they walk. Either that or out-of-staters are so wealthy, $5 on the sidewalk isn’t worth enough to bend down and pick it up.
I spent about 20 minutes at that spot, but nobody fell for it. People stepped on and biked over the bill. Two women had a five-minute conversation less than three feet away from it. Incredulous, I decided to try my luck at the Diag. I planted the bill near the ‘M’ in the center of the diag, sat in the grass nearby and waited again.
Finally, a girl spotted the bill, bent down and picked it up. She had it in her hand before I yanked it away.
Without reaction and without looking up, she simply walked away as if nothing happened.
A few moments passed before a kid on a bike doubled back to scoop up the bill. When I pulled it away, he looked up, laughed and said, “Ahh, I thought it was my day,” before wheeling away.
And shortly after that, three friends who were walking through the Diag spotted the bill on the ground. One picked it up excitedly. I yanked the fishing line, forcing it out of the first kid’s hands. As the three argued about who had seen the bill first, one of them — a student who I later learned was Engineering sophomore Zunail Meredia — stepped on the bill, picked it up and pulled hard enough to tear it from the string.
He offered to give the money back, but I figured it was karma for pulling the prank in the first place — I let him keep it.
So, there it is. Happy April Fool’s Day, everyone!
My sincerest apologies to any bro whose hair gel reacted badly with the Silly String or anything like that. But it couldn’t have been worse than being covered in foam or written on with highlighters — things many college students do willingly.