For a few quarters in college, Nick, Doug and I all lived in the same apartment together. When we first moved in, we drew straws to see what order we would pick rooms. Doug won. I got third and Nick got second. I was doomed to get the smallest room that was awkwardly shaped with the fuse box on the wall. Doug changed all that when he picked the worst room for himself. Nick picked second and got the best room and I got the second best room. Doug stood by his choice and I'll never know what he saw in that room.
It wasn't long until we started pulling pranks on each other. Nick had a waterbed. On one long weekend in the winter, Nick left for two days and so Doug and I (mostly me) left his window open, unplugged his waterbed heater and covered all his vents with towels. The hope was to get the waterbed to freeze. It didn't, but it took a while for it to get back to normal temperature.
Nick tried to get me back by crafting an complex "bucket over the door" device made of cardboard and four or five German beers he had brought from home. When Doug and I got back from a night of drinking, Nick tricked us into going into my bedroom. Doug walked in first and... nothing happened. Somewhere between the 3rd and 4th beer, Nick's engineering skills failed him. The bucket of water stayed in its cardboard nest.
A few weeks after the failed bucket of water gag, Nick took my mattress off my bed, put it in the shower, and re-made it. He did a damn good job tucking the sheets in and stuffing the pillow so that it would stick. Doug made it home before me and went into the bathroom. Even though you could not see the mattress through the shower curtain, you could sense its presence. Doug completely freaked out. I think he got the broom out and was poking at the shower curtain to see who was behind it.
This is when I decided to pull off The Grand Prank. A multi-level puzzle full of trickery. I had to wait for the perfect time and Nick gave it to me when he went home for the afternoon, but was coming back later that evening. Here’s what I did:
#1 Bring On the Noise
I took the looping tape out of our answering machine. Back in the day, phone answering machines had two cassette tapes in them; one normal tape for recording messages and one looping tape that was 30 seconds long. You would record your message on the 30 second tape and it would loop around to the beginning for the next call. The answering machine could detect when the tape looped and would stop it. A regular tape player would not recognize the cue and it would play the tape endlessly. I recorded my voice on the tape saying, “I got you this time, Nick. Ha ha ha ha. I got you this time, Nick Ha ha ha ha ha.” I put this tape in my bedroom and blasted it.
#2 Lock Down
My room was only slightly wider than my bed. So I angled the bed in front of the door just enough so that I could squeeze out. Then I used a metal coat hanger to pull the bed against the door to wedge the door shut. If you pushed against the door, it would only open about three inches wide and I had the tape player half way across the room and way out of reach.
#3 Plot Twist!
Nick was a smart guy, so once he realized he wouldn’t be able to get into my room, he would head straight to the fuse box. Our fuse box wasn’t labeled and here’s what I did… I put layer after layer of tape over a fuse. Then I took a wooden coat hanger and screwed it to the wall over the fuse. It would take a bit of doing to get that stuff off, especially after I hid the drill and tools. The item I failed to mention is that the fuse I covered was not the fuse to my room. Anyone opening that fuse box would assume it was the right fuse and take the time to uncover it.
#4 Lights Out
Finally on my way out, I removed ever single bulb in the house and hit them in the linen closet under the towels. (Yeah, we actually had extra towels.)
I left for the night, knowing I would be staying at Johnny Two-Sack’s place. In the morning I would come back to a very pissed off, but hopefully proud Nick.
When I rolled in the next afternoon, there was no Nick to be found, only one very angry Doug.
Nick hadn’t come home that night. But Doug had. Doug said he stood in the doorway for about five minutes trying to figure out what the hell was going on. None of the lights would work. Something was playing in my bedroom. After stumbling though the apartment, Doug tried to open my door and it wouldn’t budge. He reached his arm through the door and…
…turned off the light switch. The same light switch that also controlled the outlet that the tape player was plugged into. The player went off. Doug crawled into his dark room and went to bed.
So I had to clean up the mess. I wanted to leave everything the way it was, but I had to get the power back on to the living room (the actual fuse I had off,) replace all the lightbulbs and at some point I would need to get back in my bedroom.
Nick came home late on Sunday. He had decided to stay home all of Friday and play golf on Saturday.
He asked how the weekend went.
It was great.