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Lesson 4. College Pranks Gone Wrong

Man, I am going to get you back this time,” Larry told me.*

*Disclaimer: This lesson may not put me in a good light. But Steven King and Anne Lamott, two writers I admire, said to call upon the not-so-flattering stories of your misspent youth when you write. I misspent a lot more than my youth, so I have plenty of stories. Here are a few that taught me a lot about what it takes to be a good compliance officer.

I was a student at Michigan State University, living in the dorms. With the help of my roommate Tom, I had just pulled a failed prank on Larry, one of my buddies. The failed part was key. I used my failure to my advantage later, when I got Larry back before he could get me back.

My time as an RA at MSU taught me a lot about dealing with people who’ve gotten into trouble.

(Photo courtesy of the author)

I was obligated to participate in pranks. Well not really “obligated,” I enjoyed doing pranks—I initiated, embraced, and escalated them. I loved to escalate them. In fact I don’t know which prank got me into the mess I’m about to share with you, because small pranks were not memorable. The escalated prank was memorable, and the prank we played on Larry was seriously escalated.

The first part started with Larry. I told him, “Hey, you’re mad at me and Tom. I’m mad at Tom, because he screwed up the prank. Why don’t we both get Tom back? Then you can get me back.”

Larry thought it was genius, but he had no clue it was just a ploy.

Next I went to Tom. I told him that Larry and I were planning to get him back, but what Larry didn’t know was that he was going to be pranked again. I explained my plan and Tom said, “Heck no, I’m out.”

One thing I neglected to mention was that Larry was a very big dude. I’m 6’2” and Larry was way taller than me. Larry was also built in such a way that I’m pretty sure he could lift half a Buick. I understood Tom’s reluctance, but he was key to the prank. So, the prank had to be slightly altered.

My other roommate, Marc, looked a lot like Tom from the back. He was all in from the get-go. Then I lined up seven other guys and we picked a night. The plan went like this: Larry and I were going to go to the cafeteria at about 9:00 p.m. one evening. The room would likely be filled with people who were studying. As far as Larry knew, he and I would load up a 10-inch pile of shaving cream in one hand, cover it up with a piece of newspaper, walk up behind Marc (who was pretending to be Tom), pull the newspaper off, and smash Marc in the face. However, there was more to the plan.

Here’s what I told Marc and the other guys. When Larry and I were about 20 feet from reaching Marc with the shaving cream, I would yell “Go,” rip off the newspaper from my left hand, smack Larry in the side of the face with the shaving cream, and then the prank would proceed as many pranks did―with me running away. But there was more to it. As I ran to the door, with Larry chasing after me, Marc would throw two water balloons at Larry and we would pass three tables with seven guys holding two water balloons each. Each of them would hurl their balloons at Larry as we passed them. On the night of the prank, all started off as planned. Then things went horribly wrong.

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