Epic Dad Pranks
June 19, 2016 3:51 PM   Subscribe

Since it's Father's Day in the USA, I want to ask you a question. Mefi dads, or kids, have you ever pulled (or had pulled on you) an epic "Dad Prank"?

As an example of what I'm looking for, here's one I got my son with back in the 1990s, when he was about 12 years old.

I had an airplane back then, parked at Mount Comfort Airport, just east of Indianapolis. During the month of May, the Goodyear Blimp was based there covering the various race events. Being an airport bum, it wasn't long before I became pals with the grounds crews, especially the night guys. One evening, I took my son out to the airport, telling him I could get him a close-up and personal look at the Goodyear Blimp. (What 12-year-old would pass that up?). I drove him over to where the blimp was parked, we got out, & I checked in with Ray, the ground crew guy charged with watching over it at night (They NEVER leave it unattended, for obvious reasons), and took my son over to the blimp.

The blimp is generally moored at night to a mast that's on a fairly heavy truck by the mooring fixture in the nose, it being otherwise free to swivel around the mast when the winds change. Never the less, up close, a blimp that size is an impressive entity, like being next to a 10-story building that's sitting on the ground, sideways.

I looked at my son, who was suitably awed by being that near the actual Goodyear blimp, when inspiration struck.

Taking advantage of a certain piece of knowledge I had acquired, I groused about them having "Parked the damn thing in the wrong direction again", walked over and grabbed the camera rail on the side of the gondola, and grunting like the Hulk, lifted the entire blimp off the ground and carried it about 45 degrees around the mast, and set it down.

The look on my son's face was priceless.

[The knowledge I exploited was that they didn't want the single wheel under the gondola to dig a rut in the airfield, so at night they only ballasted the blimp to about 100 pounds of negative buoyancy, so it only 'weighed' 100 lbs. The mass was still the same, though, so you couldn't move it quickly. It's an entertaining illusion.]

Do you have a tale of an epic Dad prank? Please share with us.
posted by pjern to Human Relations (19 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
[This is a bit on the chatty side, but I'm gonna declare a Father's Day mulligan and say folks can run with it.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:06 PM on June 19, 2016 [27 favorites]

My dad used to change the traffic lights by snapping his fingers. Not as good as a blimp, I know, but it still impressed the heck out of me.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:19 PM on June 19, 2016 [7 favorites]

After receiving his learner's permit, my little brother couldn't wait for Saturday, the day my father promised that his first driving lesson would occur. Mom forced him to eat breakfast and seemed to take an eternity to make the eggs. Somewhere in there Dad appeared and told my brother to meet him in the driveway when he was ready to go. After shoveling in his food, my brother headed to the driveway, only to discover that my father had festoon all four sides of the car with old tires that he had hung from the roof rack and door handles with rope, a la the fenders on a boat. The rest of the family stood around giggling (and, um, maybe guffawing). My brother contemplated this scene and, without comment, got in the driver's seat. Score one for my bro.
posted by carmicha at 4:24 PM on June 19, 2016 [8 favorites]

After my grandfather (my mom's dad) died we had him cremated, and my mom was in charge of getting the ashes. Although we had seen people scatter ashes, none of us had actually seen how the remains come from the crematorium before so we (my dad, mom, brother, and me) were all curious about what it would look like, and spent a few days talking about it. Probably a little too much. We came up with a few visual scenarios and spent a few dinners imagining what it would look like, thinking we were going to an urn or a nice box.

So the nearest crematorium was in a town about 90 minutes away, which also happened to be the place we did a lot of our shopping because we lived in a real rural area. So when the funeral home called and told us he was ready, we made arrangements to pick him up at another funeral home in that town and thought while we were there we might as well make a big grocery run.

Well, it was just my mom and me doing this, and when we got home we started unloading the car on the kitchen table - big, industrial sized boxes of food. My dad saw us and hurried in and then asked my mom if we got her dad, she said yes, and he asked her if she minded if he took a look. She said go ahead, he was in the white box on the table, and she went back outside. So my dad came into the kitchen where I happened to be unloading groceries, and noting the pile on the table pointed at the big, flat white box I had separated and put on the kitchen counter.

"Is that your grandpa?" he asked.

God help me but I nodded yes, then watched as my dad took out his pocket knife, respectfully split the tape around the edges, and then oh so slowly and reverently lifted the lid to reveal . . . rows and rows of frozen hamburger patties. He was absolutely still with shock for about .2 seconds and then he screamed, oh he did, he did. My mom got there just in time to see the end, realized what was going on but didn't say anything, and laughed for about 2 hours. My grandpa? He would have loved it.
posted by barchan at 5:20 PM on June 19, 2016 [98 favorites]

"Hey kids, would you like to meet your Aunt Anna? She's here; you can see her out on the back deck!"

"We have an Aunt Anna? OK..." (we weren't close with our extended family, who lived variously around California and Colorado, while we were in Atlanta).

"Yeah, come meet her! She's right out here..."

We all walk out the back door onto the deck. There's nobody there.

I said, "I guess she's not here? Did she go down into the yard?"

"No, she's here! She's right up there!" Dad points to the roof.

"What? I don't see anybody up there."

"No, she's up there. See? Right there? Your Aunt Anna? ... She's right there. Look! Right there!" He keeps pointing. He's actually pointing to the brick chimney.

Eventually one of us realizes he's pointing to the TV antenna, which is attached to the chimney.
posted by amtho at 5:50 PM on June 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

My father went through a phase when I was in high school where he would wrap one of my hair ties around the head of the sprayer in the kitchen sink. :-|
posted by juliplease at 6:01 PM on June 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

I don't know if it's a "prank" exactly, but for years when my older brother was a little kid, my dad pretended there was a Leprechaun who lived down by the river on our property. He'd leave chocolate coins and letters every Saint Patrick's Day (possibly on bro's birthday as well). The letterw were really elaborate. The Leprechaun had a whole backstory and they were written on what looked like old parchment with jagged edges and all. He even used a fountain pen and disguised his handwriting.
posted by ELind at 6:23 PM on June 19, 2016 [8 favorites]

My dad was able to magically open and close the garage door by saying "open sesame" and "close sesame."
posted by sockermom at 7:00 PM on June 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

I guess this is technically a brother-in-law-and-other-family prank, but it was my dad, so I suppose it counts:

Dad was in the National Guard. He spent six months in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War, and had a couple shorter assignments abroad. At some point, a few of my relatives (I forget who; we're a big family and full of jokers) thought it would be funny to tell my mom's sister that these trips were really some sort of hush-hush top-secret missions.

"FBI? CIA? We don't know the details and he refuses to say," they told her. "But think about it: would the National Guard really send an overweight forty-year-old with bad eyes to fight in a war?"

My aunt was all but convinced. She went over to Dad and asked, "If you were a spy, you'd let me know, right? RIGHT?!?"

Without missing a beat, Dad replied, "Of course."

"So... are you a spy?" she pressed on.

"No," replied Dad.

My aunt nearly burst into tears. "I knew you wouldn't tell me the truth!"

Years later, Dad was diagnosed with cancer, and it was terminal. He had a hand in writing his own obituary, and slipped in a reference to "classified missions," specifically for my aunt. Most people would have skimmed right past it, or thought nothing of it, but he knew she would notice - and she did. I'm not sure anyone since then has been able to convince her he wasn't a spy.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:20 PM on June 19, 2016 [21 favorites]

My dad (and Mom, but mostly Dad) successfully convinced me and my younger brother (ages 10 and 8 at the time) that it was illegal for us to see a PG-13 movie since we were not yet 13, and therefore we would have to sneak into the theater in order to see Twister. Mom bought the tickets while Dad had us duck under the ticket counter and slink through the front entryway, then we pretended to go into a theater showing a kid's movie but Dad signaled to us when it was OK to make a break for the theater showing Twister. Then we had to duck in our seats until the lights dimmed, while Dad kept watch for ushers. He let us know he was doing us a favor since he could get a huge fine if we were caught.

In the car on the way home he admitted the truth, and our life of juvenile crime was over before it even began.
posted by castlebravo at 7:28 PM on June 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

My grandad died this year, and I feel that he would appreciate me sharing one of his greatest triumphs:

So, for forty years grandad was a beloved professor at a private Baptist college, and he loved to torture the (usually young, female) office staff in his department. One secretary (this is his voice: "Sweet girl, but dumb as a sack of rocks) had been there long enough that she'd bought a single goldfish and a bowl to keep it in, on her desk at the reception area of the theology department. And then one day, she showed up and there were TWO goldfish. (Grandad again: "And she was amazed. Flabbergasted. "Could they have...bred, somehow?") The next day, there were three goldfish. Then four. Then five. ("They keep coming!") And then, once the population hit ten they started...decreasing.

As far as he knew, she never caught on as to who was responsible.
posted by theweasel at 8:08 PM on June 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

When I was little my dad made up bedtime stories for me every night and every one of them started with "Once upon a time when I was a little girl just about your age ("MY age??") I went for a walk in the woods. All of a sudden it started to rain. 'Oh no,' says I, 'my pretty party dress will be ruined!' Then I saw an old deserted house and ran up to stand on the porch. Suddenly the front door opened [creaking sound]. I stepped inside and the door slammed behind me [faster creaking sound, loud hand clap]..."

For a while there was a phase where he wound up on various islands in his stories that for creative reasons ended up being called Easter Island or some other name and the story would end with, "and that's how Easter Island was discovered." I always had to be skeptical and then he would bring over my globe and point out Easter Island to me as proof that his story must be true.

One Christmas I wanted a unicycle and was sad when it wasn't under the tree on Christmas morning. At breakfast my sister knocked over her glass of milk and I was told to run down to the laundry room to get the mop. There, of course, was my unicycle.

One year I had always always wanted a gold heart-shaped locket with my name engraved on it. On Valentine's Day morning my sister and I came down to breakfast and had matching small square presents waiting for us. My sister opened hers first and it was a gold heart-shaped locket with her name engraved in it. I was so excited that I would be getting one too until I unwrapped my present and it turned out to be a pair of hideous yellow and brown polyester socks covered with garish sunflowers. I had to politely say thank you, bottom lip quivering, trying not to cry. Then they pulled out the package with my locket in it.

This is my 20th father's day without my dad and I'm so happy this thread got to stay. I love all your stories - especially the one about the hamburgers.
posted by bendy at 8:35 PM on June 19, 2016 [10 favorites]

When I was maybe three, my dad pretended to eat a grasshopper. At first I didn't believe it but he kept telling me he really ate it and finally, I believed he really did it. I started howling because I thought he was going to die (because he ate a grasshopper - I know, I was three, okay?). He had to finally admit that he didn't really eat it. And that, I believe, is the reason I have always hated pranks and teasing to this day.
posted by Lynsey at 11:02 PM on June 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

Not my father, but my grandfather told me that if I kissed my elbow, I'd turn into a boy. Contortions ensued. For much longer than I'd care to admit.
posted by kamikazegopher at 12:12 AM on June 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

It wasn't until sometime after college that I learned that "gride" wasn't a regional word for dustpan. My dad always called it a gride, so we always called it a gride.

Because it went with the broom.
posted by Mchelly at 4:19 AM on June 20, 2016 [35 favorites]

Refer to this dad joke thread, where you can see the damage my dad wrought upon me and my oldest brother on separate occasions at Carnegie Hall and how I've convinced my son that his middle name is something different.
posted by plinth at 5:05 AM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

how I've convinced my son that his middle name is something different.

plinth, that's brilliant. I hope we're all around for the denouement.
posted by pjern at 5:37 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

A day late, but...

When my son was little there was that period where he basically lived off small pretzels. One day we were at the local park watching a free concert. I was walking around with him in one arm, a bag of pretzels in my other hand.

I walked up to a tree and, using some dad slight-of-hand (and taking advantage of the fact that little kids are stupid), I pretended like I was picking pretzels off the tree and told him it was a pretzel tree.

HOLY SHIT this totally blew his mind! I continued feeding him fresh-picked pretzels for several more minutes. A couple of years later he asked if we could go pretzel picking. Eventually he figured out the truth.

Also, when he was little my wife and I told him that this elf dude named Santa brought presents at Christmas, a bunny rabbit brought eggs and candy at Easter, and some fairy dude would give him money for his teeth. I have no idea why he fell for any of that.
posted by bondcliff at 6:53 AM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Also, heaven help the kid who took the frosting off their slice of cake and put it aside to eat last since it is the very best part. "Oh you don't want your frosting?" as he popped it in his mouth.
posted by bendy at 5:52 PM on June 20, 2016

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