Please don't say toilet paper.
October 10, 2011 1:38 PM   Subscribe

What kind of pranks did you pull back in high school and college? Did anyone ever catch you? I'm looking for examples of interesting teenage capers, along with what happened when the authorities got involved.
posted by Hoenikker to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (70 answers total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
I lit incense cones and placed them on the upper lip of door frames (Steel-in-masonry doors only! Not a great idea near anything flammable). More than once, I got to see a variety of folks, from janitors to vice principles searching around trying to figure out the source of the smell.

They never did catch me, but back in my day, they would have just given me detention. Today, they'd probably have me arrested for attempted arson or making terrorist threats or something like that.
posted by pla at 1:44 PM on October 10, 2011

My younger brother did something kind of clever; no authorities got involved, however.

Our rural street finally was wired for cable television back in the early 80's, and somehow he and his friends discovered that the remote control units were universal -- one family's remote could control another family's cable box. So for a while, their favorite prank involved one of them borrowing their own family's remote, and then they'd all prowl up and down the street, sneaking up to various houses and peering in the windows until they spotted someone watching TV. Then they'd use their remote to turn the TV off or change the channel on them, watch their reaction and then run like hell.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:44 PM on October 10, 2011 [5 favorites]

A guy once left a positive-looking pregnancy test and an unsigned, feminine-looking note that just said "we need to talk" in another guy's college dorm room. This caused the pranked guy to have really awkward conversations with each of the women he had recently slept with.
posted by sninctown at 1:46 PM on October 10, 2011 [19 favorites]

Me or my friends:

Threw a water balloon at a Red Cross van and inexplicably broke the side mirror. Apprehended because one of us was wearing Birkenstocks. Threatened with 3rd degree criminal mischief. Forced to volunteer for the Red Cross.

Strung toilet paper across a suburban street and shook/lifted it as a car was about to drive over it. Still dont really understand, but a driver stopped and somehow told my mom. Slumber party disbanded.

Peed in an ice machine at local University. Not apprehended.

Shat on the toilet seat at local University. Not Apprehended.

Turned the lights off on local university students while they were in the bathroom stall. Not apprehended.

Stole goldfish from Woolworths. Released in library toilet. Not apprehended.

Tried to let the air out of subsitute teachers tires. Caught. 1 day suspension.

Regularly yelled "Nice car!!" while local shitty cars passed by. Chased away very regularly. Caught once, punched in face.
posted by mcgordonliddy at 1:47 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

We counterfeited tickets to a school dance where a big national soul band was playing, and gave them away wholesale. Kids came from all over town, and the party was legendary. But the authorities popped one kid for dope. Squeal or go to jail, they said. He finally gave me up: 'A guy named Lonnie gave me my ticket.'

On Monday they brought me and the kid into the office. He looked at me and said 'That's not Lonnie -- not the Lonnie who gave me a ticket!' I always loved that kid.
posted by LonnieK at 1:52 PM on October 10, 2011 [19 favorites]

A friend of mine claims he played a prank that drove one of his friends into a nervous breakdown in high school. Somehow he ended up with a crate of honey bears. Over a period of weeks, he and the rest of their friends started placing honey bears in random places around the school - chem lab, his locker - and played dumb whenever he asked if anyone had noticed a lot of, um, honey bears around lately? When they were down to 1 bear, they filled his car with helium balloons and placed the bear in the middle of the back seat. The next day he wasn't at school and when they called his house his Mom told them he was 'on a rest break for a few days. AFAIK there were no consequences. I do not vouch for the accuracy of this story.
posted by bq at 1:54 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

We took a good friend who was inebriated to the point of being passed out, loaded him on a Greyhound bus to Memphis (the most we could afford) and kept his wallet with us. He woke up in Knoxville and phoned home collect. Although his parents threatened to involve the police, nothing ever happened.
posted by Lame_username at 1:56 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

A couple months ago I saw this mentioned in my local paper (despite this being old news, as I discovered via the internets):

At a high school in Montana, a group of students let three goats loose in the school. But, before turning them loose, they painted numbers on the sides of the goats: 1, 2, 4.

School administrators spent most of the day looking for No. 3.
posted by Specklet at 2:01 PM on October 10, 2011 [82 favorites]

There's a big commons area on the campus where I went to school. It's called Wescoe Beach. It's really just a super-wide sidewalk, but people hang out there when the weather's nice. Or at least they did back in the mid-80s. My friend carried a gas can full of water to the middle of the beach and drenched himself. Then he tried to get a match to light, struggled with it, and went around asking for a lighter. We barely got out before the cops came.

The same guy read in one of those "dirty tricks" books about putting a gelcap of powdered food coloring inside a showerhead so that the first person who used the shower would get dyed like an Easter egg. We had to use paste food coloring, the capsule dissolved really fast, and the victim reported it to the shady landlord of the flophouse where we all resided. I think two or three of our friends got yelled at for it. No other consequences.

My nephew tells a story that sounds cool, but I doubt its veracity. He claims that some of his friends at RPI (guess it gets pretty cold in upstate New York) froze a professor's tires in blocks of ice. Details are scarce, but I understand they used cardboard to contain the water until it froze. No word on how they moved that much water.

A guy in my school parking lot had his Renault Fuego covered with sandwich-cookie halves. No consequences for that either. The car looked pretty cute with all those dark spots on it, though.

Plastic wrap over the toilet happened in the dorms a lot. Also, the dirty tricks guy worked as a security guard at a grocery store, and he had an ongoing war against the person he dubbed "The Phantom Shitter." He never caught the guy. From what I hear, there's a lot of phantom shitting in the military. Wonder how they punish that?
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 2:08 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

After an offhand comment by a physics teacher about how you couldn't get a VW through a classroom door, a buddy and I borrowed a clunker from a local junkyard, hoisted an old beetle onto the back of a pickup, then broke it down just enough that we could bring it up to the second deck of our school, assembled it in the classroom, then we were waiting for him when he got in at 8:00 am.

He was shocked, but we were impressed at his poise as he said (thick Russian accent): "Very good. Now if it's still here in a half hour when class begins, you fail."

Getting it back out of the school (as the 3k students were filling the halls and the truck was no longer parked at the closest access point to the stairwell) was tougher then putting it in.
posted by Seeba at 2:08 PM on October 10, 2011 [5 favorites]

I drew a life-sized caricature of one of my friends on a wall at school. It was right next to where she sat each day before class with a bunch of us. It was just for laughs (from her included). I wasn't caught.
posted by marimeko at 2:12 PM on October 10, 2011

When I (the perennially Good Kid) was in high school, some of my Bad Influence friends kidnapped me (yes, they literally dragged me out of my house and into their car--my parents thought it was funny) to go prank the house of a school administrator who had been giving me really uncalled-for shit that week.

Turns out one of the friends has some poop in a paper bag. It's cat poop. From his cat's litterbox. Clumped, dried, and crystal-scented fresh. The bag is also stapled shut so the cat poop doesn't fall out in the other friend's car. But whatever. I'm sure you can figure out where this is going.

So, we get to her one's home. We decide not to light anything on fire and leave it on an abandoned porch (burning down the house wasn't on our to-do list), so choose to do the next best thing: leave the cat poop in her mailbox.

Yes, cat poop in a mailbox. Still sealed in a paper bag. And we never got caught for this cunning and devious act.
posted by phunniemee at 2:13 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

This brings back memories! When I was in college I lived in some off-campus housing that the builders somehow managed to look convincingly like suburbia with a whole bunch of my friends. One of them REALLY LOVES shiny things, so much so that he has a large collection of strange shiny implements that most people can't guess the provenance of, and he is very jealous of his privacy. One day, after his excitement over an (in the end) ill conceived and not executed prank on another more delicately paranoid housemate involving a thin battery powered LED light with an FBI logo flag on it hidden in his room, I decided it was his turn. I colluded with his girlfriend to enact the perfect prank. I would bring him enlightenment in the Rinzai manner, jolting his consciousness awake with a sudden strike.

We told him we had a plan, and that it was EPIC. He grew obsessively paranoid, and perhaps he was right to be worried as I was known for crazy plans and really talked this one up. Our cookie cutter house was not built with locks on room doors that could be manipulated from the outside. So, in his madness he constructed a fantastical and truly impressive Rube Golberg device through which he could close the locked but primed door but then manipulate the device with magnets to turn the doorknob opening it again. Things did get kind of intense, and I did get worried for him, but the gestalt beauty of the plan was worth it. Despite his belief that I honestly had no ill intentions and would cause no damage, perhaps that was also part of why he did not trust my judgment, perhaps he was right not to.

The tension lasted for about six months, gradually subsiding until, regularly, it came back like an eldritch terror. (Both he, his girlfriend and I were all in difficult classes until the summer.) I did not predict the full effect this had on him. When the time came he knew something was up, he tried desperately to get his girlfriend to tell him what was going to happen and, to her credit, she did not budge. His best guess was that I was going to stage a massive nerf gun ambush or that I was going to steal all of his shiny things and hide them somewhere or worse, but really the terror was in the fact that he truly knew that he had no idea what was going to happen. Nothing could make sense, an almost Lovecraftian terror of the unknown and the entirely unpredictable depths of my seemingly manic mind. He had class that day, a presentation unfortunately, but we both knew I was leaving for an extended internship soon and it was now or never.

As soon as he was supposed to be out of the house I moved quickly, I marched his girlfriend around the house at nerf shotgun point, suspecting a double cross, but he was indeed gone. We then set to work, covering EVERYTHING and EVERY item in tin foil, and the room was filled with books, coins (THE PENNIES WERE NOT SHINY ENOUGH), knichknacks and trash as well as an attached bathroom with toilet paper and a sink and shower/bath.

I made sure I was gone, not knowing the state he would be in, when he arrived home. And then I got a call, it was his girlfriend, I should come right away. Apparently, the moment he got home he pulled out two fully loaded nerf sub-machine guns and marched his girlfriend around the house, focused and warlike and very much not like himself, menacing them akimbo in search of me. He burst through every door until he reached his room and when he kicked his door open he stood there slack-jawed and speechless, dropping the weapons. When I arrived he had still not said a word, paralyzed in the absurdity and build up.

It was another five patient, and hug filled, minutes or so before he said anything. In the end he was very grateful for the time, effort, and planning put into it, very happy that the event was entirely non-destructive, but felt that he no longer had a meaningful standard by which he could judge whether or not he was glad that it happened. This was the beauty of the prank, though that word in the success seems inadequate to describe it. As wee freshmen, years before, we had reasoned that someday each of us we would break the others reality, and he had already brought me to a similar dumb, helpless, enlightened state, though that is a story for another day. I simply shared the gift.
Peed in an ice machine at local University. Not apprehended.
Shat on the toilet seat at local University. Not Apprehended.
Turned the lights off on local university students while they were in the bathroom stall. Not apprehended.
Stole goldfish from Woolworths. Released in library toilet. Not apprehended.
Just when I figured I had come to some kind of inner peace as a university janitor with you fuckers... uggh
posted by Blasdelb at 2:14 PM on October 10, 2011 [8 favorites]

Oh -- a college friend told me about something his father did, when said father was a student at MIT (or some other similar techie-person university).

The city in question had a trolley for its public transit, and they rounded up five guys and a small quantity of plastique explosive. One guy was the decoy; he waited at a stop, boarded the trolley when it pulled up, and then proceeded to "accidentally" drop all the change he was going to pay with on the floor. He started picking it up, apologizing profusely; and after having hunted all his pennies and dimes and nickels and what-not down, he counted it, only to find that shucks, he was about five cents short. He backed off the trolley, apologizing, and told the driver to go on ahead.

But while all this was going on, the other four snuck out from where they'd been hiding, and each one secretly slipped a small bit of the plastique onto the trolley tracks, about two feet in front of each wheel. The change-drop gave them just enough time to sneak up, put it in place, and sneak into hiding again. Then when the trolley started up again and rolled forward, it rolled onto the plastique, setting it off. Now -- they had made very certain that the amount they'd used would NOT be enough to cause structural damage to the bus, or cause anyone any injury. However -- it was just enough to cause a sudden flash burst of heat sufficient to weld the trolley wheels to the tracks.

I don't remember whether my friend told me his father got caught.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:15 PM on October 10, 2011

Not me, but a traditional prank at our high school was to physically pick up a teacher's car and move it to some other part of the parking lot.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:18 PM on October 10, 2011

During my senior year of high school our school was under construction. The 1950's building was under a major overhaul. During a choir concert, we used the currently-being-remodeled office as a room to change clothes in. I noticed that there was a new fancy electronic box on the wall with a keyring and 3 keys hanging off of it. I opened the box and deduced quickly that it looked like some sort of scheduling system. Maybe a fire alarm or security system. I pulled one of the keys off of it and took down the model number for future use.

Later on I found the key and the number, and did a lookup on the internets and found that the box was the new bell system which played over the schools PA. The old system (consisting of actual bells) was out of commission and I knew they would be activating the new one soon. I grabbed the manual and started teaching myself all of the menus and default passwords to the point that I was confident I could do some reprogramming provided I gained access.

One afternoon, after track practice I wandered through the school and found that indeed the opportunity was there, so I went for it. Donned my gloves, wandered into the office and found it deserted. My previously stolen key popped it open, and sure enough, they left the default password. I proceeded to get to work on making my own bell schedule. After I was done, I changed the password, closed the door, broke the key off in the lock, and went home.

The next morning I arrived to school a hair on the early side as to make sure I'd get to enjoy it. 7:50am the first bell rang, indicating 5 minutes until class started. I went to my first hour class and took my seat. 7:55am the second bell rang to indicate school has begun. The announcements began around 7:56. At 8:00am, the bells interrupted the announcements. Everyone looked around. "That's strange."

8:05am, the bells went off again, and the giggling began. 8:10am. 8:15am. 8:20am. Every five minutes there was an uproar of giggling going up and down the hallways.

By 11:00am my plan was truly realized, as no one thought it was funny anymore. This was the toughest part of the day for me as I was really enjoying the suffering. I walked by the office during my lunch to see that the principal and technician were still trying to wrangle out the broken key. I knew that they still hadn't gotten to the changed password, and that the reset was difficult to do without the password.

It wasn't until 1:30pm that they finally managed to shut the bells off.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:23 PM on October 10, 2011 [16 favorites]

PS: The trick in all pranks I pulled was that I acted alone and never told anyone what I had been up to until at least a few years later. Not. A. Soul.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:26 PM on October 10, 2011 [10 favorites]

My dad told me this one and it has to be one of the best I've ever heard.

Back in the day late 1800's the Georgia Tech and Auburn Tiger football team played each other regularly. One of the trademarks at the time of the Georgia Tech football team was to take the train down from Atlanta into Auburn, AL. Moreover, this train was always engineered by the same conductor who knew his trade well enough to make the approach into town at full steam (literally steam back then of course) and lock the brakes up some distance out of the station. By so doing, and by careful monitoring of the brakes on the way in this would produce quite a commotion of squealing, sparks, and hoopla when the train finally came to rest inside the station. Thus raising everyone's spirits for the game to come.

So, tired of this flagrant display of awesomeness, one year the Auburn ROTC cades awoke early in the wee hours of the morning and applied grease and lard to something between a half and a few miles of track, depending on who's telling the story.

Needless to say, when the train came rolling in as expected, the cheering crowd at the station, ready to see their boys off the train and on to the game were greeted by nothing more, or less, than a speeding locomotive and a whoosh of air as it flew by at a considerable clip.

Needless to say, the train ended up halfway to the next town along the line and the football team had to walk the ~4 miles back into Auburn, potentially causing much dejection and sadness that, who knows, may have been part of the reason they lost the game with a heartwrenching score of 45 - 0.

Did I mention I have a link as well?
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:26 PM on October 10, 2011 [4 favorites]

Oh, just thought of another one my brother was involved with -- our high school principal found his graduating class an especial challenge, and it became a class in-joke that our principal would often tell them "You guys are making me lose my marbles!" So when they graduated, every kid in his class carried a marble with them, and when the principal shook each of their hands after giving them their diplomas, they'd palm the marble off into HIS hand.

The valedictorian had thoughtfully left a bucket for him under the podium, though; but he instead slipped each of the marbles into his pockets, until after the last kid got his diploma; then he made a great show of emptying the marbles into the bucket. All TWO HUNDRED of them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:29 PM on October 10, 2011 [5 favorites]

Placed a cherry bomb inside an old-fashioned metal 35mm film canister to protect it from the water in a wall-hung ashtray in the dorm common room. Inserted the fuse into one of my Pall Mall cigarettes for an extra fifteen minutes of suspense, lit it and lowered the cast iron lid. When it blew, the lid broke off, hit the ceiling and nearly nailed a passerby, while the film canister became shrapnel. These deadly possibilities had not occurred to us, and we were chagrined. Later, we were told the bomb squad and FBI got involved and they did question one of us (photographer) but we skated. I hope the statute of limitations has covered my misdeed.
posted by Hobgoblin at 2:29 PM on October 10, 2011

My husband tells a story of a friend ("Bob") who lived with a real jerk ("Tim"). To get revenge, Bob collected a bunch of issues of Tiger Beat and Heart Throb and all of those teenybopper/tween crush celebrity magazines. He cut out all the celebreteen boys and put them up in in Tim's room while he was gone for the weekend. Bob invited over a bunch of mutual friends for a party. He then threw the stereo remote on Tim's bed and shut the door. At the party, when people started looking for the remote, Bob said, "oh, it could be in Tim's room, you might want to check in there." Leading, of course, to the party guests discovering that Tim had a thing for underage boys. Major awkwardness ensues. No (legal) consequences that I know of. Bob told Tim pretty soon after the party what happened, although Bob let Tim experience the weirdness for a few days.

If I had planned this prank, I would have just not told Tim. Makes it way funnier.
posted by emkelley at 2:29 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

About 20 of us each bought 10lb. bags of flour and had a nighttime flour fight at our former elementary school. We were diligent in picking up all of our bags, so as not to litter. The school was evacuated and searched by various authorities and crime labs the next day, due to the entirety of it being covered in mysterious white substance. Oops.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:31 PM on October 10, 2011

Super Bowl XXI was played in Los Angeles. By running into one of the participants at the local mall, we discovered that the pre-show included hundreds and hundreds of high-school cheerleaders from all over the country. They were all staying at the same hotel, and were essentially on lockdown because of security concerns -- they wouldn't let them out of the hotel, except for heavily supervised visits (like her excursion to the mall). She said they were spending nearly all of the time either at rehearsal or the hotel pool.

We called up the hotel and got a hold of one of the organizers. We said we represented a local boy's club, and could we swing by and deliver snacks and gifts to the girls.

The four of us showed up, breezed through security ("We were invited; we're on the list.") and spent the day the hotel pool.

Did I mention there were hundreds and hundreds of cheerleaders with nothing to do except go to the pool? I think I need to mention there was us -- four 18-year-old guys -- and 400 high school cheerleaders. Did I mention that? Cheerleaders. Hundreds of them.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:33 PM on October 10, 2011 [40 favorites]

A group of my friends got into a short-lived prank battle with another group of friends in college. The props for the pranks were our bicycles.

One morning, one of their bicycles was discovered locked to the front rail of the College President's house. Soon, one of OUR bicycles was discovered locked to the front door of one of the local bars. This went on for a while until my bike was hoisted up onto the awning of a local business overnight and it was a total pain in the ass to get down. The next move was to suspend one of their bikes to a wire between two two-story buildings, hanging over the main street of the town.

So we stole the bike, strung up the cable, did a bit of trespassing, and suspended the bike over main street. It looked great.

Then the next day the cable stretched or moved or something...the bike was hit by a truck. It fell down and got run over. I wasn't there, but some of my friends who were involved in the bike thievery saw it. Neither of the trucks were damaged, but the bike was squashed.

None of us ever said anything, as far as I know. The bike pranks stopped.

It was fun while it lasted, though.
posted by Elly Vortex at 2:58 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

A friend in college had a roommate who was not very fun, and would often go to sleep unreasonably early (like, 8:45 p.m.) and demand that it was his right to have dark and quiet when he decided it was bedtime. One night, my friend gathered up as many alarm clocks as he could. He ended up with 25 or so, in a combination of little battery powered guys, clock radios, classic wind-ups, etc. He set them to all different times through the night.

The first one to go off was my friend's own alarm clock (at around 10:00), and his roommate naturally thought that my friend had innocently left his own alarm on so he got out of bed and turned it off. Then a second one went off - my friend's watch - and the roommate hopped up and turned that off. Then a random clock in the closet went off. Then one in a desk. By the time the fourth or fifth alarm went off, he figured out the game and searched the room for any remaining alarms. He got them all. Except one. When it went off a couple of hours later, he smashed it against the wall. It was good times.

As I remember, the roommate made a complaint to the RA, who "investigated" but never did figure out the culprit.
posted by AgentRocket at 3:04 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

My son once took a squeeze bottle of lemonade and wrote the principals name in the snowbank in front of his high school.
posted by Floydd at 3:08 PM on October 10, 2011 [5 favorites]

During my senior year in high school, our class sold candy bars to raise money. Except that in February, the distributor raised their prices, but the teacher managing the sales didn't notice, so for a few months we lost 5 cents on every candy bar sold.

So in late April a couple of my friends went to the school secretary and asked for some school letterhead and a box on envelopes. "What do you need it for?" the secretary asked. "National Honor Society" my friends replied. She handed over a ream of stationery and a box of envelopes, trusting soul.

They composed a letter to the effect of "Dear Parent, As you may know, the class of 1986 has incurred some significant fund-raising challenges. As a result, the school cannot afford to rent out the Coliseum for this year's graduation ceremonies. We will instead hold graduation in the school gymnasium. Unfortunately, space does not allow all of our seniors and their families to be present for the ceremony. Your son or daughter has been chosen at random not to participate in graduation. our child's diploma may instead be picked up from the school office any time after 2:00 on Monday, June 2. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to call us at XXX-XXXX. "

They then sent the letters to the 100 families whose parents would raise the biggest stink. The giveaway on the envelope was the stamp, instead the the postage meter the school would have used, but most people didn't catch that tell.

The phone lines at the school were jammed for a week.

Graduation was unaffected by the money problems and held in the Coliseum as usual. It was our prom that sucked.
posted by ambrosia at 3:10 PM on October 10, 2011 [8 favorites]

On our last day of school we unscrewed the panel at the back of our lockers (no idea why the lockers weren't flush with the wall, total waste of space) and hid a rather "ripe" lobster and replaced the panel - it was used for an art project over several months so it had been frozen and thawed multiple times.

We were then out of the room for the next 4 hours. When we got back we were in so much trouble. The room reeked but they couldn't find the source of the smell - they checked inside all the lockers. They couldn't really punish us, they couldn't prove who did it and they couldn't find whatever it was, plus it was the last day of school anyway, so they just told us to get rid of it.
posted by missmagenta at 3:21 PM on October 10, 2011

The summer before my junior year in high school, we band geeks loaded up onto a school bus for a three-hour trip to the state finals. It was hot. There was no air conditioning. It was a very long trip.

Somewhere outside of Hillsboro, a couple of kids in the back seats taped a rear-facing sign onto the bus's back door that said "HELP! WE'RE BEING KIDNAPPED! CALL 9-1-1!"

And people did. (This was in the late 80s, so I think, amazingly, that they must have pulled off the interstate and dropped a quarter in a payphone in order to call the DPS.)

Just before we reached Waco, the bus was pulled over by several DPS cruisers. They summoned the band director/bus driver out of the bus and questioned him. He stormed back on to the bus, down the aisle to the back door, and ripped off the sign. When he asked who'd placed the sign on the window, P___ immediately admitted that she and her boyfriend J____ were the culprits.

P & J had to go explain themselves to the troopers. We were stopped for 20 or 30 minutes before they let us go on our way. They told the band director that an unmarked car had been following us for miles, and they had the SWAT team on standby in Austin, ready to load into a helicopter if need be.

The remaining ~two hours of the trip were excruciatingly silent. No one said a word. When we got to the hotel and got off the bus, we all congregated in the parking lot for the excoriation we knew we were in for.

The band director was still scowling as he stood in the middle of us. "People," he said, "I'm not laughing about this right now, but I will be in a few months."

And that was that.

Incidentally, the state troopers told P & J that the 9-1-1 callers had the right to press charges. No charges were ever brought, and P & J wrote letters of apologies to the folks who had called in.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:23 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

This was a pretty mean prank and I feel differently about it now than I did as a 14 year old, but I'll recount it below for posterity.

My freshman high school English class was taught by a middle aged female teacher who wasn't well liked. Students did a lot of things behind her back to distract her and harass her, like roll pennies towards the front of the room or say things when her back was turned, and she never failed to overreact. Insta-derail. This behavior started on the first day of class and she never got a handle on it, so it never let up. The students gradually upped the ante on the pranks they were pulling behind her back, and her reactions continued apace.

This was 1978 or so, and the classroom was filled with the older, very heavy desk-and-attached-chair style of writing desks that used to be common place. These aging symbols of American manufacturing pride were build like tanks and were almost as heavy. Her classroom was located on the second floor of our high school and overlooked a concrete courtyard. The windows were very large and double hung, and when one was opened the opening was quite large.

One day in the Fall term this teacher walked to the front of the class to write on the board. When her back was turned, two students picked up one of these desks and quickly hurled it out of one of these open windows. It landed in the courtyard below with a tremendous crash.

She hurriedly ran to the window, looked down to the courtyard, and started screaming. What the desk throwers had done was have a friend wait below, and after the desk landed this friend pulled the damaged desk on top of him so it looked like the falling desk had killed or maimed him.

Now, as an adult I can look back on this with appropriate horror and disgust, but as a teen I thought the accomplice pulling the broken desk on top of himself was a very inspired prank.

That was the last straw for her. She took a leave of absence the next day and we had a substitute for the rest of the term. The funny postscript was that the substitute was made of much sterner stuff and wouldn't allow herself to be manipulated so easily, and she turned the class around.
posted by mosk at 3:28 PM on October 10, 2011 [13 favorites]

Best one I ever heard, think it came from a local college or HS. Guys got three goats, and spray painted 1, 2, and 4 on them, and let them loose in the main school building.

The place was shut down the whole day while they looked for #3.
posted by timsteil at 3:33 PM on October 10, 2011 [6 favorites]

I went to university in Ottawa. One day there were folks on campus trying to recruit kids to go to a debate, for what I believe was the provincial conservative party leadership. My friends and I were kind of meh on the idea, but the recruiters would bus us to the location and we could go to a specific candidates hospitality suite and have some pizza and beer. When you hear 'free beer,' you're willing to do just about anything. I think all the candidates were trying to rustle up supportive kids.

We get to the hotel where the debate is happening, go up to the suite, are given tickets to the debate, CANDIDATE X t shirts, and beer, even though some of us are underage. We put on the t shirts and drink a beer or two Eventually they clear us out of the suite and down to the lobby. As everyone files out into the hall, we head outside to smoke a joint and find some of our campus's protester types, protesting. They sneer at us in our CANDIDATE X t shirts. I offer them our debate tickets, their eyes light up and they run in. My friend then reveals that he had swiped a keycard to the hospitality suite, where there is still much beer and no one else while the debate is going on.

So we go back up, drink some more beers, I steal the shampoo. We're having a good time when we hear a squawk. There's a walkie talkie in the room, and we hear someone say something fishy is going on in the suite. Where we are. So we grab as much beer as we can and run to the elevator. There is a woman waiting as well and we strike up a conversation with her, she seems to be involved in the event somehow, but we don't know how. I think we may have dropped some beers in the elevator ride with her, but she was cool.

We go down to the parking garage level to finish the rest of the beers and hang out a bit. When we're done we go back up to the street and run into the protester guy, who is beaming about being thrown out for yelling something or other.

There's also a reporter hanging around, looking for a story on youth involvement in conservative politics. She sees us hanging out in our CANDIDATE X t shirts, and comes running over to get the scoop. We figure we'll throw the cons under the bus that they busses us over on, and start telling her all about how we were lured with beer, we didn't care or know anything about the debate or candidates, and that they were giving beer to underage kids. She says she'll look into it, and we went back to campus and had a good old fashioned marijuana smoke off against the protestor and other folks from his floor.

The next day we got the newspaper, and there was our picture, grinning in our CANDIDATE X t shirts, hoisting our beers proudly, over the headline "When you hear 'free beer' you're willing to do just about anything". I got some shit for that in journalism class, let me tell you.
posted by yellowbinder at 3:37 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

It wasn't me, but...

The dorms at my school have strong rivalries. In the weeks leading up to the annual hockey game between the two all female dorms, one of the buildings had hundreds (rumour says 1000) crickets released into it.

The game was cancelled but it may have happened after all once the girls responsible confessed.
posted by sarae at 3:38 PM on October 10, 2011

My favorite prank was pretty simple: Most automatic doors have a simple switch on them that turns them off. In high school, we'd go eat lunch outside the little yuppie mall across the street, some 30 feet from the doors. We'd turn the sensors off and watch people take determined strides into doors. Every so often, the staff of the mall would berate us, though we always acted innocent, and a couple of times they threatened to ban all the high school kids from the mall, but since half their weekday business was based on soaking us for $4 Wonder-Kraft grilled cheeses, that never came to much.

Which is why I always pause, or at least push, before going into an "automatic" door.
posted by klangklangston at 3:38 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

in high school, we would put library books in people's backpacks, so the detector would go off when they walked out
posted by mrmarley at 3:40 PM on October 10, 2011

I had friends in high school who called themselves the "screw bandits" - brought screw drivers to school and undid every screw they could find. This was actually really annoying, even though I was "in" on the joke - I distinctly remember pushing open a door and having it fall off the hinges. I also saw lockers falling apart and desks collapse.

This prank, among many others including setting fire to a tree outside the school, throwing bottles in hallways, and spitting profusely on each other (Yes, spitting...gross, I know), led to parent meetings, press coverage, lots of administrative involvement, etc. But no one was really apprehended for most of it. They got their revenge by suspending a bunch of people for the last week of school our senior year (therefore being unable to walk at graduation) for being drunk at the senior bash.
posted by angab at 3:42 PM on October 10, 2011

My friends and I once impersonated a high school chess team at the state chess tournament. Our school had no club, no team, we skipped class, rode transit to the next town, signed up, competed.

Our punishment: the shame of placing 13th at best.
posted by Captain Shenanigan at 3:56 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

We use cigarettes as delay-fuses for large firecrackers, which then were placed on the limestone molding-type decoration outside below the third-floor window. It made an almighty bang six minutes into the math lesson, which in turn created a hilarious shout-match between a teacher from below, who had seen the glowing bits float past his window and stormed into our class in a steaming wrath to lay his hands on the culprit, and our beyond-peeved math teacher who kept shouting back "My children do not do such things."

Then, one of the students owned one of these cars, and a bunch of kids grabbed it and carried it straight into the school building.

Otherwise we were good at writing Latin words between the lines of the un-wiped-out outpourings of our French teacher, in the long break before a Latin test-class. It was very interesting to watch our Latin teacher go all purple when he found out.
posted by Namlit at 3:59 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

The "prologue" segment of a recent This American Life episode tells the story of some high school pranksters. You might enjoy it.
posted by aka burlap at 4:24 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

While dated, Spite, Malice and Revenge is a comprehensive collection of old school prank how-to's. Let's just say you can do them all without the use of a computer or cell phone.
posted by timsteil at 4:28 PM on October 10, 2011

Sadly, the most outrageous college prank I took part in consisted of being let into a friend's room and filling his closet with crushed newspaper. However, another friend of mine was trying to hatch a plan to break into this same friend's room in the middle of the night and cornrow his hair. I'm still kind of sad it never happened.

...Don't know if you will also accept high school THEATER pranks, but there's a doozy of one from my senior year play. We did HAIR, and there's a scene where one character shows off his new Mick Jagger poster to the others and they take it from him and tear it to pieces. (It sort of makes sense in context.) I was in charge of procuring and managing the props, so I got the posters for the run; the director said that rather than my trying to track down 8 Mick Jagger posters, I could just get 8 random posters and he'd just tell the actor to hold it so the audience couldn't see what it was.

During the run, the boys decorated their dressing room with a Playboy centerfold they all named "Charlene". The girls found out, and they all spent the next few days talking smack back and forth about it -- the guys waxing rhapsodic about how gorgeous Charlene was, and the girls grumbling about how obnoxious the guys were being.

Then, on closing night during Intermission, I was setting up for Act II when one of the girls came to me and asked, in a whisper, "Is the Mick Jagger poster on the props table?" I just nodded, wondering why she was asking. She thanked me and scurried off. Then about five minutes later, suddenly the guys were running about in an angry panic; someone had swiped "Charlene" from their dressing room. They were demanding her return, but the girls were unsympathetic. I asked a couple of them if they knew where Charlene was; they admitted they didn't know. It was time to start the next act, though, so the cast went on.

Then we got up to the point when the character with the poster unrolls it to show it off to his friends. He ran back to get it from me, grabbed the rolled-up poster, ran back onstage brandishing it, and unrolled it to "show it" to everyone -- and that is when everyone saw Charlene, neatly taped in the dead-center of the poster.

The guy's faces all fell. The girl's eyes all developed evil gleams.

The poster was COMPLETELY OBLITERATED that night, and Charlene was an unfortunate casualty.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:29 PM on October 10, 2011 [6 favorites]

My Senior Year of high school, my Theater friends were involved in a production of The Pajama Game. A very smart and innocent guy (Let's call him Ted) was playing someone's Dad in the play. In one scene, he was supposed to look through a photo book. One of my compadres who was also in the play put in a bunch of Playboy-type pics in the photo book right before the scene. Poor Ted blushed furiously when he opened the book and could barely finish the scene. My compadre was never caught, and ended up with the Drama award that year.
posted by luckynerd at 4:46 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best one I ever heard, think it came from a local college or HS. Guys got three goats, and spray painted 1, 2, and 4 on them, and let them loose in the main school building.

The place was shut down the whole day while they looked for #3.

We did it with raccoons that we caught in live traps (rural area, damn raccoons would eat our horse feed). We let them loose in the school numbered 1, 2 and 4. Our school didn't shut down though. There was an announcement about 3 still being about.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 4:48 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have seen, been close to, or been involved in the following:

-A large wooden form being built in someone's dorm room and filled with concrete (resulting in a concrete block far larger than any door or window in the room
-Someone being taped into a full portapotty, having it knocked over, and rolled down a hill
-Taping the sprayer on a sink engaged so anyone that touches the faucet gets sprayed
-Removing the doorknobs from the inside of a number of classrooms so that students needed to knock on the door from the inside to be let out
-Writing a message on a sports field with fertilizer (it will stay for years)
-Filling a hotel room's iron with urine, so someone steams their important outfit with piss the morning of a meeting
-Picking the lock on a hotel minibar, evading the entry-detection method, emptying it, repicking to re-lock, leaving the next sorry sack to open it with the entire minibar bill.
-Putting jalapeno juice in someone contact lens case
-Opening every outlet or switch panel in a room and hiding rotting fish in the walls
-Hiding a dead squirrel under someone's pillow (he didn't find it for three days, one of those nights, his GF slept over)
-Creating a craigslist post for any number of hilarious things (like requests for dirty talk from trannies) and pointing the resulting call or email flow to a target or listserv
-Hiding a large open container of milk in someone's room
-Spilling cooking oil on a slick ramp just before class change
-Getting trashbags full of random hair from a Supercuts and using it to penetrate every possible nook of someone's room and soul.
-TPing someone's car, then peeing on it, while it was below freezing out (so the car was covered in TP that was frozen to it by piss)
-Filling a car with dead crabs from a local restaurant over night (this smell takes FOREVER to go away)

I am quite certain there are more and equally certain that I have a place reserved for me in hell.
posted by milqman at 5:02 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

A friend and I ran Gumby - the plasticine man - as an unauthorised candidate (nonetheless with a surprisingly large marketing budget and coherent campaign strategy) in our student council election.

The campaign included posters in the washrooms (Slogan: Unlike the other candidates, Gumby isn't watching you pee right now) and even a few spots in the student council election videos - thanks to some help from the volunteer editors.

Gumby did quite well in that election.
posted by generichuman at 5:13 PM on October 10, 2011

I was 15, my best friend was 16 and just got her license, so we talked my mom into letting us drop her off at her 2nd shift job and keep her car, which was this big old late-70’s Buick. Somewhere along the line we picked up the 12 year old sister of a friend, and we went out riding around, which is what one did for fun in the Podunk town where we lived.

Eventually we decided we wanted to get some beer, so we stopped at a little hole-in-the-wall bar. I had snagged my mother’s drivers’ license, so we went inside and I proceeded to try to convince the bartender I was 33. And that I didn’t know “my” social security number which was printed on the license “because I never need it for anything.” The bartender laughed but he must have thought we deserved an A for effort, because he sold us a 6 pack of “low” beer, which we proceeded to drink. My friend and I got a little tipsy but Sally, the twelve year old, got pretty wasted.

By now it was dark. We got back in the car and decided we were going to get some revenge on some kids who had harassed us earlier. We went and picked up a couple of bags of ripe garbage from my house, drove down to these kids’ house and parked down the street a little ways. We tore open the bags and threw the garbage all over their back yard, and then ran back to the car to make our escape. Except young Sally was so drunk she kept staggering all over the road and we couldn’t get her in the car. (Did I mention that she’d been wearing a bathing suit the whole time? It’s funnier if you picture her in the bathing suit.)

Meanwhile, someone from inside the house ran after us and got our license plate number. We drove away, but we knew we were in deep shit and it was only a matter of time before the cops would pull up at my mother’s house looking for us. So, we went back to the scene of the crime. The cops were there, and we turned ourselves in. The homeowners decided not to press charges if we picked up the garbage out of their yard. The bags the garbage came in had been destroyed, so we picked up the garbage by handfuls and threw it loose into the trunk of the car. Then we went and picked up my mom. There was no time to get the garbage out of the trunk.

The next day, we had to go run errands with my mom. It was 90 degrees, and she kept wondering “what’s that smell?” and told me to check and see if there was a dirty diaper under the seat. We drove around in the awful stench all afternoon before she discovered the garbage in the trunk and we had to tell her what happened. I don’t actually remember what she did to me. I do remember a pair of furious, blazing eyes zooming in about an inch away from mine, and some screaming… the rest was probably so awful that I blocked it out of my memory.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:21 PM on October 10, 2011

Filled a baby pool with jello and then placed a teacher's desk in it.

Using chainsaws, cut down rival school's nice, brand-new sign. Still regret doing that. It was a nice sign, and all they did to us was kick our ass around a basketball court on a regular basis.

Painted teacher's room bright pink.

Removed all locker doors, erected giant statue on soccer field with them.

Erected a fifteen-feet-tall ziggurat of empty beer bottles on the roof of the library.

Removed school's front doors, drove an MG Midget through the hallway and into the library, replaced school doors.

Placed parts of a dissected squid in various lockers.

At graduation, collaborated with junior class to chain and padlock all parents' and teachers' cars into a dead-end parking lot, showed them the key, laughed and drove to Florida and drank for a week.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:29 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

We went to see 'Goldfinger' on its second day. In the opening scene, an unarmed James Bond came upon a villain in a bathtub. The villain reached for his gun and Bond looked around in desperation. Before he even noticed the electric heater, a kid from my school -- who had seen the film on opening day -- yelled out: 'BOND! THROW THE HEATER IN THE TUB!" He did.
posted by LonnieK at 5:33 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

My high school's rivals were the Wildcats. Every year, around this time, our high schools have a big football game. One year, on the eve of the Big Game, some people from my school somehow managed to break into a Science Dept. storage room, where they proceeded to steal dead, frozen cats that were supposed to be used for dissecting (I guess? I shudder to think what other possible uses for dead cats there could be), painted them red and blue (our rival school's colors) and hung them on the goalposts of their football field. They were never caught. This has predictably become something of a legend at our school.
posted by MattMangels at 5:47 PM on October 10, 2011

in college, as a result of an inter-dorm "Olympics", rivalries ran high. after beating a dorm at one event, our dorm flew a dorm flag out our window on the 2nd floor. the opposing dorm sent a student up the drain pipes to tear down our banner, which they did. our response was to send 150 students over to their dorm to retaliate (not that we had any plan or idea of what we were doing). when they were turned away by campus police, myself and one other individual who knew the RA/RD on duty, were allowed to walk in to the building, seemingly there on a social visit. in 30 minutes, we confiscated every single roll of toilet paper from the four story dorm, bagged them, and threw them out the window into the adjacent construction area. 35 minutes later, we walked out and said good night to the RA. we climbed the wall of the construction site and loaded the bags of TP into my car trunk. i was on the college judiciary board, and unfortunately was linked through a long series of events to this caper and was in the end, impeached.
posted by ps_im_awesome at 5:48 PM on October 10, 2011

The Harvard Pep Squad
Of its 24 members, not 1 attended Harvard. At a Yale graduation, I met the organizer of this classic college prank.
posted by LonnieK at 6:08 PM on October 10, 2011

Remember the Windows shut down screen? When I lived on residence, I opened that file on a friend's computer and changed the message to "system corrupted, all files deleted". I didn't even have to wait for a reaction — I was the only girl they knew who understood computers, so they came running to me in a panic the next time they shut down their computer and saw the 'error message'.

I covered the back of a high school friend's lock with butter, a small prank with a BIG reaction and more longevity than I had expected. He said it took months before his lock wasn't slippery anymore. This prank was inspired by my parents' story of their friends who put peanut butter in their car door handles when they were on their honeymoon.

A friend and I had a Christmas-war over several years where we would buy each other things and wrap them so they were both deceptive in size and appearance and nearly impossible to open. I won when I bought her a book and wrapped it in several boxes, the largest being a fridge box and the smallest being 'wrapped' with papier maché.
posted by heatherann at 6:09 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Computer lab at college, 1996. Toying with the browser, maybe Netscape, I discover that you can falsify the "from" email address. This allowed you to send a global email to the entire school, anonymously. The downside was that you couldn't receive the replies.

So I figure this out and think I'm a Big Bad Hacket, so I test it by sending my first and last global email to the campus. I could have done anything with this, but I waste it on "Hello. Just wondering, how many of you believe in me". From Lame.

People replied. They got bouncebacks because the email address they're replying to doesn't exist. People REPLY TO ALL. This pisses people off, so THEY reply to all telling people not to reply to all. The school's email crashes that day. Without email, students and faculty flip out and demand blood.

I'm standing in line at the cafeteria, and I hear people calling for blood. The server is brought back up and almost immediately crashes. Email is out for about a week.

I've kept my mouth shut about this since then.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:47 PM on October 10, 2011 [6 favorites]

This wasn't my prank, but I think it fits perfectly into what you're looking for: John Green's Legendary High School Prank.

He integrated an altered version of this prank into his debut novel, Looking for Alaska.
posted by litnerd at 6:48 PM on October 10, 2011 [4 favorites]

On-campus housing is non-standard in Australia - only a few hundred students live on campus at any Sydney university.

My brother spent his first year or two at university living on campus, dorm style. The dorm rooms were single person, and the doors opened into the rooms. One night, he and some buddies got a 120 litre wheelie bin, filled it up with a hose, and leaned it up against the door of a friend's room with the wheels chocked. When the friend got up in the morning and opened the door to leave, the bin tipped over, soaking him and utterly swamping his entire room.

Another time, he managed to open a friend's window by a couple of inches. The guy was away for the weekend. My brother and his buddies spent the entire weekend crumpling newspaper into balls and shoving them through the window, until the the room was about 1.5m deep with newspaper.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:31 PM on October 10, 2011

I once filled a dorm room with those little paper bathroom cups and stapled them all together near the bottom of the cups so they formed a giant grid on the floor. Then I filled them with water. Absolutely no mess, except that you couldn't get them out without tearing them and getting the water EVERYWHERE.

I think my retribution involved having water dumped on me from higher floor as I left the dorm one day. Totally worth it.
posted by TallulahBankhead at 8:38 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

My sophomore year at Tulane, the university decided to change mascots. We'd been "The Green Wave" forever, but our Gumby-esque mascot was starting to look ragged. A new mascot was designed, a pelican, and the students were polled to name it.

We chose "Pecker." The university administration found this unacceptable and named the creature "Rip Tide." But he was Pecker to us, and that's where all the nudity madness began.

This would have been 1998 or 1999. So, we had the internet, but it was smaller. Easier to game. A bunch of us set up an e-mail account -- was it on the university servers? Did one of us work in a campus computer lab?? Would I tell you??? -- for Pecker the Pelican. We used it to organize a naked run.

I didn't actually end up getting naked with everyone else because I'd gone and joined the campus newspaper, the Hullabaloo, and I knew I couldn't write about the run if I was in it. Still, it made me happy to see a bunch of kids did streak down McAlister Drive wearing only green and blue paint. It was the end of finals. Folks were excited to be naked outside. In the (sort of) cold weather!

There were no repercussions. I do not know if the tradition continued, or even if Pecker is what they still call that pelican.


I ... err ... heard about a prank that took place the fall of my senior year. It involved a fraternity that didn't have a house and flyers distributed to all the freshman dorms advertising a party at this fraternity's non-existent house.

During orientation.

Well, actually, from what I heard, the flyers were distributed the night before the freshmen arrived, slipped under their doors in the wee hours. The pranksters evidently found glee in the idea that a bunch of fresh- girls and boys would traipse down Greek Row, looking for the non-existent Phi Kap house.

Whoever it was that organized that particular prank found a photo of the old Phi Kappa Sigma house, which had burned to the ground a decade before. Still, the photo looked accurate enough, as if it fit right in on Greek Row. At least, that's what I heard.

All of this sounds super-innocent and lovely, doesn't it? A fake frat party on the first night of freshman orientation?

The problem was, the administration found out some time around dawn. They woke the resident advisors, all of them, just after five in the morning, and made them go and open every door and take every flyer. From what I heard, there were quite a few flyers, distributed to every room in five residence halls.

Furthermore, the Phi Kaps, of all people, were initially blamed for the prank. As if they'd want to go out and tell people they didn't have a house (I hear they have since rectified this problem), and make themselves the butt of a campus-wide joke. But they got into trouble, you see, because fraternity parties are banned during freshman orientation. And the party flyers might have advertised booze. So the party, if it existed, would have been not only against university rules, but also illegal.

Well, it became clear quite soon that the Phi Kaps weren't to blame, but then their members wanted blood. And a rumor went 'round that a few of my friends, some lovely Theta girls, were behind FlyerGate.

It might not have mattered much, if the Phi Kaps and the Thetas weren't partnered, or whatever the Greek terminology for it was. But see, the president of the Thetas was dating ... oh, who cares?

The point is that these two girls were kind and faithful and loyal and honest and obviously never had anything to do with any prank in the history of the world. They were, of course, particularly blameless with regards to any prank concerning the Phi Kappa Sigmas at Tulane University. Still, it transpired that these ladies got into some trouble with their chapter. Enough trouble that they thought they might be expelled or excommunicated or whatever it is sororities do to girls who have crossed them.

Having served the previous year as news editor of the Hullabaloo, and having gotten to know the campus Greek advisor, Tom, fairly well, I went in and sat down with him. Telling this story now, I start to feel a little remorseful. For what, I don't know.

Well, I sat there in Tom's office and told him to his face that my Theta friends couldn't have had anything to do with the prank because they were with me that night. It was true that they were with me. And it was true that I was a student leader. And it was true that I always appeared to have a stick up my ass.

I am not to blame if people underestimate my ability to commit excellent pranks. Not that I had anything to do with this one.

So of course Tom believed what I said, or at the very least he pretended to. I was sort of shocked, really, when he told me he'd call the sorority advisor and tell her to cool it on my friends. Tom said to me, he said, "I have a feeling it was the Pikes." The Pi Kappa Alphas were our campus baddies, back in the day. They weren't even officially on campus back then, they were so bad. Indeed, I sometimes wonder if Tom didn't just say he thought it was the Pikes because there was nothing he could do to punish them, what with them already being banished from the university's Greek system.

Looking back on it now, it seems like such a small thing. None of the freshmen ever saw those flyers. And nobody ever got in any trouble. But to me it still feels like I pulled off heard about the greatest caper in history.
posted by brina at 8:43 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

Not sure there's enough space here. These are just a few off the top of my head, pranks from myself, my siblings, or my close friends. Do not try these at home. Times were so very different when these were originally performed.

In no particular order:

* Two boys in a knife fight along a busy street. One boy stabs the other in the chest then runs away. Car skids to a stop to investigate. The stabbed boy stands up and walks away with the knife sticking out of his chest. (A board under his shirt and some ketchup. No authorities.)

* A car chases a boy through a grocery store parking lot at "high" speed, screetches to a stop, when a kid jumps out and shoots the running boy (blanks, of course). Others grab the "dead" kid and throw him in the back seat. (Followed by a cop car for several block, not pulled over.)

* A chalk line drawn across a street with a rise in it. Two boys stand on either side of the street holding lengths of rope that dangle down to the chalk line. To the cars, who don't have time to take in the details, it looks like they are holding a rope that stretches across the street. When the car is close they pull on their ropes, causing the car to skid to a stop in panic. (No authorities)

* Talked a friend into driving his little car through the breezeways at a school. Managed to get away.

* Some of us were rather skilled at the minor vandalism known as TP'ing, to the point where we were hired by others to "hit" specific homes with toilet paper, eggs and fireworks. Never caught.

Oh, so many more. Again, none of these are recommended.
posted by trinity8-director at 12:11 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

In high school, and with the assistance of 5 other girls, I helped duct tape a particularly promiscuous girl to the boys bathroom stall. She quit flirting with our boyfriends and did not rat us out.
posted by Jayed at 12:24 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

It was folklore in my university that in the 60s/70s, the Bangor Student Rag (pranks for charity) put signs up on Menai Bridge stating "Sorry - Closed: Anglesey full". Apparently they had traffic backed up for miles and it took the police several hours to sort out the mess. My googlefu fails me on looking it up now to see if it really happened.
posted by arcticseal at 3:54 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't know if you'd call this a "prank," but something my own high school friends and I did when one of us had a birthday or we had something we wanted to celebrate: we would all bring in pieces of a full table setting -- tablecloth, cloth napkins, good china, a bottle of sparkling grape juice, the like -- and we'd bring them to the cafeteria with us, and we'd "set the table" for all of our bag lunches and cafeteria whatevers. I think one time someone brought in a vase of flowers, even.

We were a little concerned the first time we tried that, expecting that we'd be asked to put it all away again, but instead the teacher who was on cafeteria monitor duty got a towel from the kitchen, and came over to our table with the towel draped over one arm, bowed grandly and asked if we would care to see a wine list.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:21 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

When we were in high school, my older brother's best friend drove a Geo Metro, affectionately known as the Ground Rover. My brother would hide in the hatch with one of those backpack-style water guns, while the friend drove around looking for people they knew (or didn't). When he spotted a likely candidate, the friend would speed up, then screech to a halt just past the poor pedestrian and pop the hatch, at which point my brother would pop up with his water gun and soak the everloving hell out of whoever was standing there. They described with particular triumph soaking a goth girl who was quite horrible to them, and totally ruining her black-and-white face makeup.
posted by SeedStitch at 6:37 AM on October 11, 2011

On Halloween, I once covered a bucket of lard with construction paper and then added a couple layers of candy to the top. When the first kid of the evening showed up, I told him that the good stuff was at the bottom. He plunged his arm halfway up the forearm into that bucket, soaking his sleeves in beautiful snowcap lard. I immediately felt a little bad and let him come in to wash his hand, but there were no other consequences. I repeated a couple times throughout the evening, but the actual candy got pretty lard-logged after a while and it wasn't as convincing.

We also once set up a lemonade booth with syrup of ipecac as the special ingredient, but I don't recall now the specifics of our success. Possibly because success was too horrible and had to be repressed in order to live a normal life.
posted by hilaritas at 7:23 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

I wasn't part of either of these, but they happened at my college.

The first is enshrined in legend, but pictures recently came out proving that it is true. A broken down MG was buried on the site of the new school library the day before the foundation was poured. The owner of said MG was not too pleased, as he was planning on selling it for parts, apparently.

The second, while not funny, borders on bizarre. My college had, as many do, student language houses- a German house, a Russian house, a Chinese house, a French house, etc. Also note that my college has plenty of theme dorms (really just floors in dorms- but a rather nice substitute for frats), including a co-op, a mad science floor (currently two floors), a Japanese culture floor, etc. That year, there was an English Culture dorm. Some residents of the dorm, finding a sick or injured nutria near the pond where they have been infesting, decided to do the humane thing and put it back in the water. Where it promptly drowned. Not being ones to waste a good opportunity, they took the nutria back to their dorm and stored it in a freezer. They then "declared war" on the French house, and as their first strike, left the head and paws of the poor nutria on the welcome mat of the house. The administration was not amused. I'm not sure what happened to the body of the beast.

Personally, I was one of the go-to guys in high school to fix computers. Windows could not (and probably still cannot) cope with files and folders starting with the ASCII 255 character (a blank space, but not actually the space character). So I would occasionally leave folders entitled "_horse porn" on their desktop that could not be deleted, moved or opened. I think I always deleted them after a day or so.
posted by Hactar at 9:03 AM on October 11, 2011

Reading this has gotten me thinking about more of the pranks we pulled in college. I guess we were a pranky bunch of kids. Here are some highlights:

• A friend who was in the habit of leaving her door unlocked went into her room one day to discover that every last one of her possessions, right down to her toothbrush, was missing. (We'd just put everything in the closet, and we helped her put things back in the right places afterwards. She stil didn.)

• And then there was the grilled cheese. That is to say, there were some girls on campus -- and here I must say I was not one of them -- who would take Kraft Cheese Singles, unwrap them, and leave them on people's windshields. In New Orleans, this meant a sticky mess. A friend of mine thought the whole thing was very funny, and started sneaking cheese singles out of the dining hall and leaving them arranged in a pattern outside my door, but since my building was air conditioned, he did not achieve the desired melty effect. So he moved on to arranging chips or other food items, shrinelike, at the entry to my room. Sometimes I wonder what the other folks on my floor thought of me, considering there was so often weird food on the floor outside my door.

• On the newspaper, we'd write fake headlines. That wasn't so much a prank as it was a way to spice up Thursday nights, when we put the paper to bed. Thursdays were terribly long dull nights, during which we all wondered why we'd thought it would be glamorous to run a student publication. So to entertain ourselves we'd write these fake headlines, always changing them to real headlines once we were on proofs. But we'd launched an online edition, and one day a fake headline made it onto the front page of the site: "Dan's mom wears sexy blue lingerie." I cannot remember what the story was about, and fortunately for everyone involved the headline was changed within a few hours. But to this day, whenever I think of Dan, I think of his mother's fictitious underthings. I also know better now than to even contemplate writing a spoof headline, because such things really do have a way of making it out into the wide world.

• One day a student left her glasses in the library. She, or perhaps a kindhearted but thoughtless school administrator, posted her full name and on-campus mailing address to the entire student listserv. I might have heard a thing or two about folks having free samples mailed to her. You know, like Tempurpedic mattress literature and -- once -- a free adult diaper sampler. I don't know if she ever got her glasses back, but for a few months her mailbox was always full of goodies.

• Life was full of these little pranks, like the cheese squares and the headlines, and also more traditional (read: boring) pastimes like banner thievery.

But possibly the greatest prank pulled during my school years was the night of the porn showing. It had been a campus tradition, once upon a time, to show a pornographic film in the school theatre once a year. The tradition had died out, but it was revived my sophomore year. There was a lot of debate around campus about whether showing pornography was a definitively sexist act, but at the end of the day everyone showed up at McAlister Auditorium to watch the movie.

That's when the boys from Baton Rouge attacked. They'd donned long trench coats and found spots in the back of the theatre. In the middle of the film, they fanned out and walked down the aisles, spraying hair conditioner at everyone from the Super Soakers they'd concealed in their coats. Afterwards, our hair was very shiny. The guys were thrown out of the auditorium, but really, who wants to eat stale popcorn while uncomfortably watching 70s porn with their classmates? The Baton Rouge boys were the only folks who found a decent way out of the situation.
posted by brina at 12:44 PM on October 11, 2011

My dad wrote a naughty word on the neighbor's lawn in rock salt. When the neighbor saw a mess nd took a hose to it to make it go away, it soaked into the earth and killed the grass -- rendering said naughty word in giant, yellow letters. Subsequent hosing did no improve the situation.

He told us this a looong time ago but has not mentioned it since. I think he feared we would do this to someone....but I never had the nerve or sufficiently destructive anger.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:21 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

There was a bridge on campus that had an unseen knoll on the other side of the bridge's wall. I used to give campus tours, and routinely I would jump up, walk along the wall backwards while spouting facts; momentarily lose balance; assuredly regain balance; then trip and fall off the bridge, and onto the ledge on the other side. About a moment later, I would pop back up and brush off my shoulders to a relieved and laughing tour group.

One time I popped back up, and a poor woman had begun hyperventilating and gasping for air. She said she thought she was about to have a heart attack. Very concerned, I asked her if she needed some help. She stopped her gasping for air and told me she was just joking (although I did give her a fright).
posted by jabberjaw at 11:57 AM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Got sick of paying parking tickets from our overzealous parking patrol, so we waited until the coldest night of winter. We carried 2L soda bottles filled with water, and some tubing that fit over the nozzle and truncated in a very narrow slit. When the warm water was squirted into -40F metal parking meter coin slots, loud pings, pops, and crunching were instantly heard.

I guess the meters are designed to withstand rain, but not 100ml of instantly freezing water. Parking meters were out of order for two weeks.
posted by benzenedream at 9:22 PM on October 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

In high school, some people dumped a trash can full of sawdust on the windshield of my car. Figuring I would just use the windshield wipers to get rid of it, I climbed in the car and turned it on. Unfortunately, the ventilation intakes are right at the bottom of the windshield and sucked a bunch of sawdust into the duct work. For months after that I would get a blast of sawdust every time I turned the car fans on.

In college, I discovered the dispensary for the chemistry labs. I wasn't even taking chem, but found out that they would sell you dry ice for ridiculously cheap - something like 40 cents a pound. I would load up on dry ice and do things like drop it in public toilets right before class changes.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:13 AM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

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