Trolling Level: Troll

It was time to up the ante again. Sure, we had officially come out of retirement with Lucia’s pumpkin, but we had eased ourselves back into the game. Now, we needed to do something more, something that required creativity, cunning, and ninja-like reflexes. So we sat down together at Bahama Bucks, bringing in our friends Krystin and Michael as consultants. Shaved ice and brainstorming naturally went hand in hand as different ideas were tossed about, all of which broke several rules of The Code. Lindsay and I quickly realized that we never ever wanted Michael to prank us, ever.

Finally, while Krystin and Michael were having a side conversation, Lindsay and I settled upon a spectacular idea. We only needed a target. Therefore, it is a truth, universally acknowledged, that parish pranksters in want of a victim generally tend to pick on the current youth ministers. And so we did.

The Plan891

Phase 1: Order 60 miniature trolls of varying colors.
Phase 2: Paste together vague, foreboding letters out of magazine cutouts. Like so…
Each letter said the following:

  • Letter 1—They’re coming.
  • Letter 2—R U ready?
  • Letter 3—They’re heeere.
  • Letter 4—Trolling Level: Troll

Phase 3: Leave a letter on Jake and Joe’s desks at varying intervals, each of us taking turns making the drop. Sometimes we’d leave a letter in the middle of the day, when they could catch us at any moment. Sometimes we’d wait until after hours.

Phase 4: Trolls. Everywhere.

Lindsay and I slipped in and out of the Office of Youth Ministry that Saturday like stealth assassins, and trolled like no one has ever trolled in the history of trolling. Don’t believe me? See below.

996991   997

 

990   1000   1003

998   994   989 

We were in and out of there in just under ten minutes, high-fiving each other for a prank well played. She went home, and I to my office, and that was the end of that!

…Or so we thought.

In our almost ten year history, we’ve never encountered anyone who was as determined as Jake and Joe to unearth our identities. After discovering that their office had been invaded by trolls, Jake cornered me about the events. They knew that whoever had left the trolls needed someone to let them into the office, someone with a key. And since I was generally around with a key on the weekends, they figured I must have known who did it. And, while I did not deny that I knew who did it, or that I had technically let them into the office (Yes, I let both myself and Lindsay in), they never actually asked if I had been a part of the prank. Thus, their reign of terror began.

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I walked into my office Tuesday morning and found five trolls that had been scalped with the following note: We have captured and will torture 5 trolls every day until the culprit has been named. These have been scalped and the next five will be burned alive. Tomorrow, noon, on the stake!

This presented a moral dilemma, indeed. Innocent trolls were going to burn. Burn, I tell you! I called Lindsay and we discussed our options. Finally, we waited. We did not think that Jake and Joe would actually burn the trolls. How wrong we were.

The next day, shortly after Noon, Jake left five burned trolls and the following note on my desk: More will die if you don’t talk! Tomorrow, 5 will be hung. If you think we are playing you are sadly mistaken, we are very sick people and have no problem continuing our rampage! CONFESS!!!

 1026  1047001

 

 

 

 

 

1046

That was it. Lindsay and I decided we could not let such carnage go unchallenged and so we responded with another letter, sent anonymously via mail, which read: we do not negotiate with terrorists! In retrospect, we shouldn’t have sent such a creepy letter in the mail, especially since the arrival of the letter coincided with the anniversary of September 11th. Indeed, it was insensitive of us and entirely unintentional in regards to the date. But, these monstrous men needed to know that scare tactics were futile.

However, they were not deterred. Again, the next day, five trolls were left on my desk with nooses around their necks and the following letter: Hanging took place! Oh, what a sight! TOMORROW 5 DROWN!!!!!!!!!!

 

About this time, they had received our mailed response to their threats. Unfortunately, they were true to their word. This was the horrific sight that greeted me the next day.

039

The letter, in response to ours, read: Luke 17:2. The war has only begun. Terrorists are meek and weak. We strive to create vengeance and illuminate the evil ways of those who instigate terror! Confess or point us in the direction to your master or 5 will be tortured like William Wallace tomorrow!

They didn’t have a clue. I was no puppet, I was the master. Lindsay and I were coconspirators and we answered to no one. Luckily for the trolls, Jake and Joe became so busy with retreat planning and leading teens closer to Christ that they had no more time to brutally torture these plastic toys.

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But Lindsay and I had not forgotten. In fact, we will never forget. We held onto the mutilated corpses of the trolls we had once delighted in, and waited for Halloween to roll around. These men would be reminded of their violence through the ghosts of these once plucky creatures. This led us to our most recent pumpkining. We hoped it served as a reminder of all that had been done. Unbeknownst to us, the pumpkin began to rot in their office before they found it. So sorry, guys! That was unintentional!

Finally, Lindsay and I decided it was time to come clean. We devised the perfect reveal and then waited for the hullabaloo to die down. We also thought it was wise to wait for her to complete her trip to Uganda, in case retribution was sought and we needed to take any further action. To coordinate such efforts across the Atlantic would have been difficult, to say the least.

Thus began our most recent endeavor. We wrote all of our experiences into a blog, posting them at calculated intervals and reliving our glory days. All the while we had an ulterior motive as we headed toward our end game, to reveal the true culprits behind Operation “Trolling Level: Troll.”

Jake and Joe—I, Rori Madril, confess and hold to be true that myself and Lindsay Brennan are the culprits guilty of trolling you. You’re welcome.

 

Serious and serial: The Pumpkining Escapades

It started with just one pumpkin. And one became two. And two became tradition. And tradition became trademark. By the fourth year, we had officially become serial pumpkiners.

Every year, from 2004 to 2008, and again in 2012, we carved a signature pumpkin for a lucky friend and left it for them as an anonymous Halloween surprise. Here, for your reading pleasure, is the epic tale:

2005:

A friendly, baseball-themed pumpkin for our youth minister, a Houston Astros fan. Unfortunately, we don’t have an actual picture of this one, so this should give you a good idea:

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2006:

A pumpkin with the face of Christ and the words “A priest is ‘en persona Christi’”, carved for our parish priest. We left this with a “ring and run” at the rectory, setting up a hidden camera to film Fr.’s reaction. His dog came out first, sniffed the pumpkin, and then sniffed out Rori. Haha. Fr. Then examined the pumpkin, admired it, and left it outside. We decided after this that we would not again prank a priest, in order to show highest honor and respect for the dignity and sublimity of his office. (Come to think of it, that should be added to The Code.)

2007:

This year we went online to find some great ideas for creepy pumpkins, and settled on the “puking pumpkin” and the “cannibal pumpkin.”
Pumpkin A, puking his guts into a cardboard box, was left for our friend Ryan, his wife and their children. The night we dropped it off, there was a police car parked across the street from his house the entire time. We waited for them to leave, but to no avail. So we carried out our plan with the added exhilaration of knowing our “get away” might involve a run-in with civil authorities. It didn’t, thanks be to God.
Pumpkin B, a big pumpkin eating a baby pumpkin, was left for our friend, Krishna.

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2008:

This year was to be our last official year of pranking, as I was moving away for what we thought would be forever, and we expected never to join our pranking forces again. So we arranged a “Grand Finale” of pumpkin fun!
The first pumpkin was carved for a couple who was celebrating the adoption of their daughter, Lillie.

The other three were miniature pumpkins which were not carved. Instead, we bought Halloween Potato Head pieces and…. “dressed” them. A pirate for Nick, a witch for Jocelyn, and a vampire for Bradley (as if a treasure hunt were not enough 😉 ).

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2009-2011: Official prankster retirement.

2012:

Then, after 3 years of retirement, we pulled a Michael Jordan and made a return to minor league sport before trying any big-time pranking. We eased our way back with a celebratory pumpkin marking the birth of Lucia, the baby girl born to our friends Jake and Yesenia two days before Halloween. We left this for the munchkin, as we are apt to do, with a “ring and run” at their apartment (on the second story, mind you – a little harder to “run” from), which was unexpected and a bit unsettling for them, but a welcome surprise. Just as we like it to be!

photo 6

The Hubcap Hunt

hubcap

It had been four years. FOUR YEARS.

Four years of recovering from almost being set on fire. Four years of lamenting our epic fail. Four years of waiting for the next “perfect victim,” who would be just curious enough and just quirky enough to participate in our anonymous creepster treasure hunt.

And then he came.

Bradley.

A recent graduate from the University of Steubenville, he was young and fresh and had a great sense of humor and a love for adventure. He would be number 5 in the line of youth ministers initiated by the friendly parish pranksters.

The thing you have to know about Bradley was that he had a cheap set of hubcaps. He had even lost a hubcap as he was driving because it flew off of his car. Now, this was not our fault. But we thought we would help him out.

Honestly, that was exactly our intent…

So we readied ourselves. On my own car, I spent time practicing the art of quickly and slyly prying off hubcaps. (It was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it.) Then, when the time was right, Rori and I both went over to the church parking lot, stationed ourselves to make sure there would be no witnesses, and I removed all….. three….. of Bradley’s caps and threw them in the trunk of my car.

Ha! Now he had reason to play our game.

The goal: follow the clues, find the pieces, put together the map, find the “X” and recover your hubcaps. Maybe….

Bradley was an excellent sport. There was only one piece that he did not search for or failed to find, and so we had to give him a bonus clue to make sure he got it. We had learned our lesson from the first attempt that most people will stop playing if the clues take them all over kingdom come. So we drew a map of the church and all the clues were found inside. We even recycled a few, because we’re lazy…..and because we were going to make sure someone read and appreciated them.

In the end, the “X” didn’t lead Bradley to his hubcaps. It led to a small pirate’s chest with a bag of Pirate’s Booty popcorn. Sucker!

A few days later, we bought him a brand new set of 4 caps and left them on his desk. And a great time was had by all. By far, the best part was when Rori got trapped in the men’s bathroom while trying to plant the last piece. She was supposed to tape it to the side of a toilet and make her escape, when a man came in to go poop! AWK-WARD! Yes, I was supposed to be keeping watch outside, but what was I supposed to do?! Tell him he couldn’t use his own bathroom because there was a female inside….conducting a secret operation? It was a terrible, terrible situation, and Rori is still receiving counseling. 😉

All in all, the moral of this story is….
If at first you don’t succeed, pick a new target and try again.

Clue #1 (led to the grand piano in the church):
In a church that’s underground
This is where I shall be found
Tickle the ivories and you’ll see
That with this clue there is a key
On your head, you must stand
Can’t you see? This plan is grand

Clue #2 (led to the icebox in the kitchen):
Here you minister and eat
Wash your hands and have a treat
Wonder what I’m cooking up?
Best for you to bring a cup
Have a drink – and make it cold
Find your clue before it molds

Bonus clue (led to the icebox piece which he failed to find):
I see the last one gave you trouble
Now today you must get double
After this there’s just one more
Then you can claim your sweet reward
So…
Beware the kitchen-dwelling mice
Underneath the box of ice

Clue #3 (led to the church library reference books):
In the church, above the ground
This is where I can be found
Reference me, and you will see
I’m in a book marked A-Z
The 31st, a day of wages
Come find me between the pages

Clue #4 (led to the men’s bathroom):
This next one’ll throw you for a loop
It’s in the place where you go poop
On the porcelain, I’ll be found
In a church that’s underground
You won’t know the stall in which I hide
So rear your legs and take a dive

Clue #5 (the “X” led to the church storage closet):
Now is the time for which you’ve been waiting
I must say it’s been quite entertaining
But please don’t see this chase as vicious
I promise the treasure’s bootylicious
So follow the map – it’s not that far
Aye aye matey! X marks the spot! Yarr!

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Map and treasure chest

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Close up of the pirate map from our scrapbook “Memoirs of a Prankster”

 

 

 

Ascension Tuesday

It is widely debated (and by widely I mean amongst Lindsay and I) as to where the idea for Ascension Tuesday came from. Some say it was our friend, Joe’s, idea. Others insist that it was Kevin’s, while a select few insist it was a dynamic pranking duo. But where the idea came from is neither here nor there, because in the end it was the prank itself that mattered.

For Christmas decorations one year, our parish had decided to put 18-foot, gyrating, blow-up angels on the roof. It was a dark time in our Art & Environment history. Even though the infamous angels were the subject of much ridicule, they were just too perfect to pass up as prank material.

So, the plans were laid, the cameras were ready, and the audience was set. The Tuesday before Ascension Sunday, while a Life Teen XLT was in progress nearby, several of us pulled together in front of Matt Maher and Matt Smith’s house. Joe and Kevin left the angels on the roof in all their heavenly glory, as they flapped about in the dark night sky. And then we waited. We waited for XLT to end, for the Matts to come home, either by foot or by car, and we filmed their reactions.

So, for your viewing enjoyment, I present to you: Ascension Tuesday.

 

Wrapped in God’s Love

saran
In the pranking business, as in most others, it helps to know people. You can’t easily Saran wrap your youth minister’s office and get away with it unless you know someone who is going to let you in, watch your back, and keep their mouth shut. A good parish prankster makes friends with the office staff.

The following prank I don’t think I would repeat, for these reasons:
1) It is not creative enough
2) It is juvenile and very annoying
3) It is a waste of plastic wrap
4) Too much went wrong

We were young and foolish….

One day, we decided it would be funny to cover our youth minister’s office in Saran wrap. “We” describes a group of at least 6 people. Our youth minister, Billie Sue, and her assistant, would be out of the office for the morning leading a junior high retreat at the parish school. No one would be in the office except Leon, answering phones until noon. It sounded ideal. So we came with our supplies and explained our situation. We would need Leon to keep an eye out and make sure no one caught us in the act….and, OF COURSE, we would need him to tell no one. He agreed and let us into the youth ministry office.

We began by tin-foiling the items in the desks. That is, we wrapped up the pencils, pens, paper clips, whatever we could find.  Then, we began to create a wall of plastic wrap from one side of the office to the other. We wrapped in a loop around the two tallest objects, a filing cabinet and a 5-foot glass and mirror welded cross, created by one of our core members. It looked like this:

cross

Happily, we wrapped along, until… “HELP!”

One of the girls was desperately trying to stabilize the cross, which was beginning to fall from the pull of the Saran wrap. After loosening the wrap and thus preventing our hopes and dreams from shattering with the collapse of the cross, we hatched a better plan to wrap the left side around a chair. Although it was uneven and a bit more easy to move, it meant that we would have a better chance of living to see our high school graduations.

So we completed our wrapping, and soon began to feel a slight remorse for what he had done. After all, we just created a huge mess, and one which would our youth ministers would find very irritating. This could be perceived as something malicious, and we had no mal intent.

But, ah! Valentine’s Day was approaching! A day to show one’s love and affection. If only Valentine’s Day had something to do with plastic wrap. Quickly, we found some Sharpie markers in a desk drawer and wrote, in giant letters across the Saran wrap, “You are Wrapped in God’s love!” Excellent.

A great way to “wrap” things up…..and a sure way to lighten the blow.

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Image of the saranwrapped office from our scrapbook, “Memoirs of a Prankster.”

 

Ham it Up!

hamtastic

What follows is an essay I wrote for my junior English class, about an unusual but hamtastic adventure:

We pulled up in front of Ike’s house and discussed our options. If it weren’t strategically planned, he’d catch us and spoil the whole thing. I agreed to do the running, but I didn’t exactly know what I was getting myself into. Nonetheless, I prepared myself by removing all the extra weight from my body: my jacket, watch, keys. For some reason, I was having a terribly difficult time getting my jacket off, considering I had to pay special heed to the ten-pound “package” on my lap, which was, in my opinion, very delicate. I tried to play it cool, but it was obvious that the fleece had gotten the best of me, and my friend, Rori, leaned over to help. After a short struggle, I mustered up what was left of my pride and stepped out of the car, holding a large paper bag in my hands.

It suddenly became very real to me how strange the whole idea really was. I mean, it’s not every day that I have the opportunity to stand on a street corner holding a bad with a ten-pound ham in it. And it wasn’t just any ham, but a ham with “Ikus Maximus” carved into it. I must have looked pretty ridiculous because I really didn’t know what I was going to do with it. Lucky for me, there was no traffic and absolutely no one around to see how stupid I looked. I stood there for a while surveying the area, trying to decide if there was any place I could hide after I rang the doorbell, but there was hardly any foliage and the few bushed around were far too scrawny. I was going to have to run.

That frightened me just a tad. I really felt like I was going to drop the ham right then and there, smashing it into little ham chucks and leaving me only to weep in the sight of its decay. There was no way I could make it all the way from Ike’s house to the back parking lot of the church without being seen. I had pretty much lost all confidence in myself, but I had to go through with it, because there was no way I was going to go back to Rori’s car with the ham still in my hands. There’s no valor in that. So judging myself to be as ready as I ever would be, I quickly glanced at the path I would have to run and timidly walked to Ike’s door and placed the bag on his doorstep. I wiped my hands and took a deep breath.

Everything after that was a blur. I pressed the doorbell carelessly, already half-running. Then, without stopping to check for traffic, I sprinted across the street faster than a criminal in a jailbreak, jumping over a large rock and ducking under low-hanging tree branches, hoping against hope that I was fast enough to avoid being seen. I hopped up over the curb on the other side, and stopped in the back parking lot of the church to glance over the wall. I saw Ike open his front door and look around, and simply to feel safer, I quickly turned and jogged through the alley in back of the church and met my friends on the other side. Wheezing, I climbed in the car and tried to tell them what had happened.

Over the next week, I heard the story from at least three other perspectives. Ike’s co-worker shared what he had told her: he hadn’t seen me and he was clueless as to who left the ham. His first thought was that it was our friend Lindsey, the girl who had thought up the nickname “Ikus Maximus,” and I was thrilled at that because it had been our intent to frame her (for no other reason than because we thought it would be easy). He suspected Rori and me for a while as well, probably because we showed so much interest in the ham. I even asked to come over to his house just so I could see it, telling him that Rori had told me what had happened and it sounded pretty funny. However, because he didn’t entirely know where it came from, he was being health-conscious and refused to eat it. His brother had eaten some through, and cleared up their suspicions about whether the ham was poisonous. (It wasn’t, of course.) Yet, because they were eating it at such a slow rate, I took the liberty of printing out ham-storing instructions from the internet and leaving them in their mailbox, just to let them know that an unpackaged and pre-cooked ham will only last for about two weeks. Maybe that will encourage them. Certainly no one would want to waste a perfectly good cut of meat.

It’s the Great Pumpkin Billie Sue!

Lindsay and I had the bug. We started pranking every youth minister that crossed our path. And so, with Billie Sue, in her first year at our parish, we decided to carve her a pumpkin. Now, mind you, a pumpkin doesn’t seem like that great of a prank. But, we were ecstatic. We bought the pumpkin, brought it back to Lindsay’s house, and diligently began work on its design. Lindsay carved Billie Sue’s name on one side, in creepy droopy letters with blood drops around it, and then she carved the Life Teen logo on the other side with two knives cutting through.

We were so happy with the work until we stepped back and realized how very creepy it was and decided to modify the knife ends to crosses and something that vaguely resembled Fleur de Lises. But it’s not the object of the prank that counts, it’s the drop. I think that’s what pushed us, the thrill of the moment, the sneaking around, the idea that we might get caught! If we were honest with ourselves, we really just wanted to be spies.

So we waited till Sunday, when the office was open and we could blend in with hordes of church-going people. Lindsay placed the pumpkin in a black duffle bag and waited out front, while I went ahead and scoped out the area, making sure all was clear. I got an employee to let me into the youth office under the pretense that I needed to make a phone call. When I was in, the employee left me alone for a moment. When they were gone, I unlocked a side door and then called Lindsay’s cell phone from the phone inside and told her to go!

She slipped in and out of the office like the ninja she was,  I relocked the door, and then exited the way I came in. We made a clean getaway. We were so thoroughly proud of ourselves and the successful drop. However,  it was after this prank that we decided to come up with The Code. We realized we didn’t want to prank people to be mean or to demean them, but to show them in some way that they were special to us, that we cared, and that we needed more excitement in our lives. Never again would we commit a prank without a purpose or drive, and never again would we be cruel or unintentional.

While this prank was a success, and the beginning of a long standing pumpkin tradition, Billie Sue still figured out who it was. And, she was able to deduce that our crosses were once creepy knives.

Oh well. It’s the thought that counts, right?

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An image of the pumpkins from our scrapbook, “Memoirs of a Prankster.”

The Beginning and the End

Sometimes when two people of like minds, with mischievous tendencies, become friends, crazy things can happen. And sometimes, just sometimes, these crazy things turn into glorious stories that will be told to our children, grandchildren, and their grandchildren for generations to come.

It’s difficult to pinpoint when Lindsay and I first decided to start pranking. I’m not sure if it was boredom, or a need to express ourselves creatively. We would laugh and scheme about all the fun things we could do, though prudence and wisdom often kept us from all the absolutely terrible ideas (here’s looking at you, people who toilet paper houses). But, we always agreed upon our first target: our youth minister, Ryan.

Ryan had quite the impact on both mine and Lindsay’s lives and, naturally, we wanted to do something for him in return. So we conceived of an ingenious idea to send him on a treasure hunt, hoping his love for adventure and humor would spur him along the way.

Lindsay and I met for several nights thinking up plans, end goals, and riddles, all to send Ryan on a wacky expedition of fun and hilarity. We considered that it all might be a little creepy, perhaps even a bit much, but we were teenagers. You either went big, or you went home. Literally.

So, the map was created (not without incident either*) and the riddles were written, meant to send Ryan from one crazy location to the next. Below are the riddles we originally came up with. However, please note that we are missing one piece of the map (which had all the clues written on the back), due to Ryan misplacing it.

October 9, 2004 (Led to the men’s bathroom at our church)
This next one will throw you for a loop.
It’s in a place where YOU go poop.
Behind the porcelain I’ll be found,
In a church that’s underground.
You won’t know the stall in which I hide,
So rear your legs and take a dive.

October 14, 2004 (Led to the feminine hygiene aisle of a convenient store)
This endeavor is a bit more clever,
You must tread where all men fear,
But women must go twelve times a year.
On the SW corner of Guad and McQueen I wait,
At the rear of an aisle most reviled I’m taped.

Suckafoo! (This was literally supposed to be a hit and run. We were going to enlist our friend’s brother, who was on the track team, to put on a ski mask and run by Ryan after a Life Night, slap it on his back, and keep on running. In retrospect, this would have been terrifying.)
This next one will come when you least expect.
Maybe it will teach you a little respect.
And if you happen to catch me in the act,
I promise that you won’t get whacked.
So run run as fast as you can,
If you can catch me I’ll reveal who I am.

October 22, 2004 (The map was to take him to a secret location where the treasure awaited).
Now is the time for which you have been waiting,
I must say it has been quite entertaining.
But please don’t see this chase as vicious,
I promise this next one is bootylicious.
So follow the map, it’s not that far.
Aye aye Matey! X marks the spot! Yarr!

When everything was set, we decided to place the first clue on Ryan’s truck while he was in class at MCC. And nothing went according to plan that evening. We thought Ryan had class and so we drove over there, only to realize that he was standing outside his building near the parking lot as we drove by.

“Get down! Get down!” I yelled as Lindsay ducked, and I leaned like a cholo. I’m not entirely sure how I didn’t hit someone, I couldn’t see over my steering wheel. It was the grace of God. When the coast was clear we drove in circles for an hour and could not find his truck, finally, we gave up and went home that night. We learned later that his class was cancelled and he left right after we saw him. Even the best laid plans can be disrupted I suppose. So, we went to plan B, and left the piece in his mailbox at home.**

However, due to Ryan’s busy schedule of life, he never followed the clues. The planning and creative experience was all worth it, even if the prank was an epic fail. It was the beginning of a pranking team, and the end of ever looking at life the same way again.

*Lindsay, I apologize and deeply regret almost setting you on fire while we tried to give our map the burnt and used look. I will never forget.

**Ryan, if you’re reading this, I deeply apologize for all the creepering!

 

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From our scrapbook “Memoirs of a Prankster”