Saturday, April 23, 2011

When Jokes go Wrong

I’ve always been a bit of a practical joker which is probably one of the reasons my parents used to send me away during the summers. They needed a break. Plus there were some unfounded rumors from my untrustworthy siblings about me picking on them. One summer I got sent to the Teton Boys Ranch in Idaho. The next summer I got sent to Fresno California. Sadly for my parents, I was never “cured” of the desire to tease (my mother uses the word “torment”) others.

One of my favorite jokes is to take a plastic spider and tuck it behind the toilet paper. When someone pulls on the roll, a life-like spider unexpectedly appears at the top. Another goodie is hiding a plastic cockroach among the clean dishes. There’s nothing better than the expression on a family members’ face when they reach up into the cupboard and pull down a cereal bowl containing a life-like plastic cockroach. I think my wife finally tired of that joke and threw the cockroach into the garbage.

One time at a family reunion I paid a nephew twenty-five cents to climb under the picnic table with a pin and pop a water balloon my cousin had carefully saved on her lap. At work a couple of years ago, I took four pairs of shoes and pants and “occupied” all the stalls in one of the bathrooms. All day long people came in, saw that all the stalls were full and went to find a less popular bathroom.

I can’t help myself.

Sadly for my long-suffering wife, it’s hereditary. Our son loves April Fools’ Day. This year he actually set his alarm and got up at midnight to set up his pranks. When I got up there was Saran wrap across the hallway and my keys were tied to a string in the fridge. Since my son was still asleep I decided I’d prank him back. I decided the old “Kool-Aid in the shower head” trick would work. No Kool-Aid. Looking through the pantry I discovered some reddish bouillon cubes labeled “Chipolte.” Perfect, I thought.

In my defense, I’m not a food connoisseur. I’m just as likely to make a random selection from the restaurant menu as I am to read it and carefully make an informed selection. I figured “Chipotle” was a brand name or something like Mexican Allspice. Things quickly went downhill.

I removed the shower-head, jammed the cube inside, screwed it back onto the pipe and waited for the fun to begin. Let’s just say some things don’t work out as planned. Our son got out of bed, climbed into the shower, turned it on . . . and when no water appeared he LOOKED directly into the shower head. At that precise moment, water laced with dried Jalapeño peppers (yea, now I know) squirted directly into his eyes.

I expected cries of “oh gross”, not screams of pain. Getting pepper in your eyes causes tears, pain, and temporary blindness and it takes a while to wash out. At this point I wasn’t feeling so great about my joke. My wife was ready to kill me, my son was lying on the floor of the shower screaming in pain and I was looking for a place to hide. We washed his eyes out with warm water and milk (because that’s what it says on the internet) until he was able to see again, which took about 15 minutes.

When we finally got his eyes to quit burning and fed him breakfast he was quite late for school. I wrote a note asking his tardiness to be excused. I wrote something about an unfortunate accident in the home which caused pepper to get in his eyes. My wife wrote a rebuttal on the other side of the note. I think it said “call family services and report my husband.”

I learned several lessons from this unfortunate accident:
1) Google the word “chipotle” before using it in the shower
2) Stick with plastic spiders and cockroaches

On the bright side; apparently Chipotle powder dissolves hard water deposits from shower heads (just don’t look at it while it’s working).


  1. You are a man after my own heart! I once put a plastic bug in a bottle of milk at Grandma Florence Mackay's refrigerator. She didn't see the humor in that prank!

  2. I just want to know what your penance was? How much did this "error in comedic judgment" cost you?

  3. I somehow came accross your blog...anyway great need to keep writting!

  4. MacKay, you could write a book about playing pranks (maybe a kids book so it stays rated PG). Think about it!

    As for Daniel, OWEE! Hopefully he knew it was all innocent fun...