Who Let the God Out? An Easter Mystery

april fools
Easter on April Fools Day…Or April Fools Day on Easter? This time the Divine Prankster beat me to the punch. Even still, I would not let such a day go uncelebrated! Rightfully, the glory of Jesus Christ’s surprising victory over sin and death would gather all the attention…and I would thus be free to play my tiny tricks like a little church mouse. And play I must! After all, “if God so loved us, we also must love one another” (1 Jn 4:11). We prank because He first pranked us. We prank because we love.

I knew my target: The choir director. For blog’s sake, we shall call him Maestro. A jovial character whose hearty laugh could be heard (frequently) all the way across the church, I judged him to have the kind of disposition which could receive a fair amount of ridiculous prankery before the friendship was at stake. Plus, having lived in Dallas for less than a year, he would not know my prank record. So plans were set in motion.

In search of inspiration, I turned to YouTube, and was captivated by a greeting card prank. (Hmm….is this becoming a trend?) It involved extricating the sound button and wiring from a Hallmark card and then strategically replacing them in a location where they would be set off unexpectedly.

Now, there are two types of musical cards: one that plays when the card opens, and one that plays when you push a button. If you repeat this prank, I caution you to use the former. Foolishly, I thought the button would be easiest to place and set off, and the first terrible card I found with such a button was one that played “Who Let the Dogs Out?”  So I bought it, cut it apart and saved the pictures. I placed the button in a small box to make it easier to quickly plant.

Having seen the staff mailboxes at the church, I knew they were akin to small metal drawers. If I could only plant the button behind the drawer, it would play each time Maestro shut his box. To be sure, I carried out a test run in my roommate’s file cabinet. Worked like a charm.

The Saturday night before Easter Fools, when staff members were busily preparing for the 3 hour long vigil Mass, I asked one to quickly open the doors of the office, so I could carry out my plans. Unlocking the door, she called out, “Maestro, are you in here?” From the back cubicle of a dark office, a solitary voice responded, “Yes!”

Shoot!!!!  

I stood silently while she disappeared to make small talk with the music man. Then she returned, motioned me into the mail room, and bid me to hurry while she stood guard. What?! But couldn’t he hear me? What was he doing back there? When would he finish? How long before my impending doom?!?!

I pulled out his mailbox drawer, and realized that the small box I had placed the button and speaker in was not small enough. It exceeded the height of the drawer! Frantically, I began tearing the cardboard box apart, and taping it to the back of the metal drawer, unable to test my work and fearing my cover would be blown (especially by the two other staff who walked in on my covert operation and had to be hushed and sworn to secrecy). Feeling it was as good as it was going to get, I threw the picture of the dog in the drawer, and hurried out of the office. Not more than two minutes later (whew!), Maestro exited the office, and I, still talking with my friend, said hello and cracked a joke about his t-shirt, too informal for an Easter vigil Mass. On the other hand, I was wearing jeans and a casual shirt, because I had come only to prank. Details, details….

A week passed and I heard nothing from anyone about Maestro’s dog, so I could only conclude that the music never worked. But oh! happy fault! Because it meant the prank must go on. As they say…

failure

So I took a second dog which I had cut from the original card, wrote the words, “Who Let the Dogs out?”, placed the picture in an unmarked envelope, and mailed it to Maestro at the office.

Another week passed. Still, no word. 

I would have to move to Phase 3. Surely, Phase 3 would make him talk. But what was Phase 3? It made no difference that I had no plan; I was too invested to stop now. So what kind of grand finale would drive Maestro mad enough to share his perplexity with his friends, coworkers or Facebook wall? A real dog? It could harm them both, said the naysayers. A stuffed dog? Maybe, but why? I had established a clear theme (letting dogs out), so no matter how meaningless, it had to be perpetuated; otherwise, the connection could not be certain.
Then I found THIS, and no further questions remained.

dog2

 

It was a hollow plastic cookie jar that sang, “Who Let the Dogs Out?” when the head was lifted. Glorious in all its splendor.

Why this, you ask? Why not.

Bursting with joy, I immediately (it was 10:30pm) called my former roommate, who readily agreed to help me carry out my crooked plans. We discussed and decided. The next day, I visited her on my lunch break with a large red bag, carrying the musical cookie dog. Inside were 5 fake cookies, which looked like this:

cookies
That evening she left the bag in the choir room before rehearsal, marked for him to find and open. Almost an hour after rehearsal let out, I received a text from the Choir Director himself, saying, “Are you playing a practical joke on me?”

Bahahahahahahaha…

Why do you accuse me of such tomfoolery? I’m shocked and mildly appalled…

I pressed the man for details before confessing to the crime, but he was just as confused as I was about the whys and wherefores. Dogs? Cookies??

Just tell me you understand the fine details of Redemption, dear brother. Some mysteries are simply meant to be lived.

 

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Playing the Trump Card

The characters:

boy

This is Bobby. *
Bobby knows an awful lot about his friends. Too much, sometimes. He knows important calendar dates that haven’t been shared with him, he saves phone numbers that he overhears in conversation just in case he might need them, he notices when other’s car tags are about to expire, and the notes in his phone reflect the chronology of our lives. In general, he comes dangerously close to crossing the line between perceptive and just plain creepy. Though he knows a lot about us, we don’t know too much about him. But we like Bobby. And so we thought it only fair to give him a taste of his own medicine. Yes, indeed, creepy is as creepy does.

 

 

 

girl

This is Jasmine. *
Jasmine is the other half of the “we”.
(Rori and I find it difficult to coordinate the hands-on work of pranking when separated by 1,000 miles, so an in-state partner was needed.) Jasmine is quiet, and thus is most likely plotting devious things 87.9% of the time, because everyone knows it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for.

 

 

 

 

trump-figure

 

This is Donald.

He is running for President of the United States.

*Names do not reflect what these people are called 100% of the time.

The Story:

Once upon an April morning, my pranking bone was tickled by the sudden realization that I knew the location of my good friend’s spare house key. What mischievous things could be done with such a tool in hand! Shortly thereafter, I texted Jasmine my unfiltered thoughts, and she jumped on board. Another month passed, and nothing actualized, so I texted again, this time with an example of a prank I found online. She responded instead: “Bobby would the most fun to prank. :D”
And with that, the storm was brewing in our brains. Two weeks later, we met after work to devise a prank that was well-suited for Bobby. The only requirement: it had to involve some element of creepy stalkerishness.

Sending flowers to his office from a secret admirer?
Didn’t know the suite number or his favorite flower.
Leaving things on his car or house?
Would give ourselves away.
Breaking and entering?
Against the law.
But alas! His birthday was coming.
And! We often joked with him about the fact that he had decided to vote for Donald Trump (one of the few things we knew about him). Could these two things be joined together in pranking matrimony? Absolutely!!! Donald Trump could send him a birthday card!!!

confused

STEP 1Discover Bobby’s address.

After searching home owners’ records and white pages online, I found a few addresses that were promising. I asked a friend to confirm but she couldn’t remember exactly, so I set out to weasel it out of Bobby himself. Joking with him one evening about the fact that we had never been to his house, I played dumb, asking if he lived in a particular city (though I knew well that he didn’t). He replied by offering me his cross-streets. DUPED!

STEP 2Design and send amazing birthday card.

card1front

Front of said card

card1in

Inside of said card

STEP 3Wait for feedback.

The sweetest job of pranking is tasting the fruit of your labors. This happened on a day when a large group of us were at brunch and a political discussion arose. The conversation went as follows:
Bobby: Trump sent me a birthday card!
Me: That is really weird…
Bobby: I don’t even know how he got my birthday.
Another friend: Aren’t you on his mailing list?
Bobby: Yes, but I have never given him my birthday!
Me: The government knows lots of stuff about you.
Jasmine: What did the card say?
Bobby: It said “Let’s make your birthday great again.”
Me: Well, did you?
Bobby: Yeah, it was pretty great.
Me: Good, you made Trump proud.

The Story Continues…

After this whole ordeal, Jasmine approached me one night very concerned that Bobby still hadn’t figured out it was a joke. Should we tell him, she asked? NO!!!!!!!!! If we have maintained our anonymity, we will take full advantage of it! But how?

This was a job for Rori Madril.

Calling her up, I explained the whole story and the success of Phase One. Now, said I, I needed her expert advice on what to do next. What else could Trump know about Bobby that he really shouldn’t? Could he, perhaps, send him something else? Should we tip Bobby off somehow that the scheme was fake?

At that, Rori said, “What if Trump made a mistake about the information he knew about Bobby? Like, what if he sent him a card for a Jewish holiday instead of a Christian one?”

This, ladies and gentlemen, could only have been the Holy Spirit at work. That Spirit of Joy Who just so happens to know – even though Rori didn’t – that Bobby just so happens to work for a Jewish business. The hatching of such a glorious idea is akin to falling face-first into a pool of Ghirardelli chocolate. (I mean, I think. The latter has never happened to me…) And I savored it. Boy howdy, did I savor it.

Having already completed STEP 1, I repeated STEP 2…..

card2front

Front of latest card

card2in

Inside

Now, on to STEP 3. 🙂

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:

DSCF1607

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.

DSCF1610

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 😉 ).

DSCF1611

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