My inner 12-year-old was awakened Tuesday during the Rogersville City School Board of Education’s Zoom meeting this past Tuesday evening courtesy of a mystery prankster.
Around the 22:30 minute mark, the BOE was discussing the possibility of reopening schools in January if the COVID-19 vaccine become available.
Then, out of nowhere, a rude sketch of male anatomy appeared superimposed on the screen.
I was shocked, and my reaction was audible. “What the h---!”
You don’t expect to see an Oscar displayed during a school board meeting.
To his credit, school Director J.T. Stroder barely missed a beat in maintaining composure and continuing the discussion, although he did pause for a moment to say, “That wasn’t very nice for somebody who was on the call to draw.”
As a mature adult professional journalist with 30 years of experience, I was offended, appalled, and outraged by this profane display.
However, that 12-year-old prankster who still lives somewhere hidden deep inside this old body was cracking up for about an hour afterwards.
First of all, how do you hijack the school board’s Zoom meeting? The public was allowed join in and make comments, but superimposing an Oscar over the top of the school board’s agenda. That’s next level.
It was crude, and rude, but the shock value alone makes it a Middle School Prankster Hall of Fame nominee.
Whoever pulled that off deserves 100 hours of detention and an A in computer science.
Still an old prankster at heart
Sometimes that inner 12-year-old emerges for brief moments, usually while on vacation at the beach.
Two years ago camping at the beach I hid all of my nephew’s family’s shoes in their cooler outside their camper, and ding-dong-ditched them.
This past summer, I turned off the outside water hookup spigot at their camper, and they called maintenance to find out why the water didn’t work. The maintenance guy politely explained how water spigots work.
When we go out to eat at certain places in Myrtle Beach, I sometimes secretly tell the waiter its someone’s birthday. Of course it’s not their birthday, but the whole wait staff comes and sings to my embarrassed victim and brings them a piece of cake.
Just a little clean-cut, wholesome fun.
But that school board prank Tuesday got me thinking about some of the more illicit pranks my tween colleagues pulled off back in the old days. If they built a Middle School Prankster Hall of Fame, then my alma mater — Westfield Junior High — should be its location, and the Class of ‘83 would have to be inaugural inductees.
I could fill a Prankster 101 textbook with my memories, but a few of the more memorable ones come to mind right off the bat.
The half-blind umpire never saw this coming
We had a Little League Baseball umpire whose name rhymed with Apple Core, so that’s what we called him. He wore thick, Coke bottle glasses and was probably legally blind. Worst umpire of all time.
One day after a day of especially bad umpiring, Apple Core went into a port-o-potty. The doors had hardware for a padlock, but jamming a stick in there worked just as well and turned that stall into a very stinky jail cell.
Somebody was inspired to lock Apple Core in the port-o-potty, which was pretty funny and we all got a big laugh out of it.
What made this incident the stuff of legend, however, was when four or five of the older boys, who had also been victimized by bad umpiring that day, decided to tip the port-o-potty on its side. It took about three or four good rocks, and then crash and splash.
As far as I know, Apple Core got out OK, never made a police report or complaint of any kind, and continued being a terrible umpire for many years afterwards.
The frozen egg incident
There was a set of brothers in our neighborhood who were judged by some of the other boys to be a bit rude.
I was good friends with a set of twins who shared that opinion. One day I was over at their house, and for reasons that escape me I moved one of their eggs from the fridge door up into the freezer. Couldn’t tell you why I did that. Probably a mini-prank of some sort. Later I went back to their fridge and the egg was still in the freezer, so I put it back in the door.
This all occurred before I went home and the twins hatched their dastardly plans for the night. I was later told they decided to teach the rude brothers a lesson. One of the twins was elected to take an egg and splatter it onto the rude brothers’ bedroom window. The rude brothers were away on vacation at the time so when they got home they’d have a big mess to clean up.
When the egg was launched, the twins were waiting to hear the familiar “splat,” but what they heard instead was the loud crash of a shattering glass. I never told them about the frozen egg. Picking the frozen egg was random and bad luck for the rude brothers.
As legend has it, when the rude bothers arrived home from vacation they found an intact (and probably thawed) egg lying in the middle of a pile of glass beneath their broken bedroom window.
Old Man Lupo’s street sign
One of the greatest memories of my childhood is staying up late with my dad and watching “Saturday Night Live” with an extra large Lupo’s pizza. Lupo’s was a mom-and-pop pizza place in my hometown and it was soooo good.
What we did one evening was no way to repay Old Man Lupo for decades of excellent pies. He had one of those light-up signs out by the road where he could rearrange the letter to change his specials for the day.
Someone had the idea to rearrange the letters into something goofy. Nothing too heinous, but I’m sure the word “poop” was in there somewhere. Remember, we were 12 years old.
We then continued to our original destination, which was the basketball courts. Every once in a while we’d send a scout back to see if Old Man Lupo had fixed his sign, but it stayed that way for a long time.
As we were heading home from the basketball court, however, we passed by Lupo’s again, and the letters had been fixed back. Well, someone quickly rearranged them into a completely different goofy message and we beat it.
However, we broke a cardinal rule that foils most great pranksters. About an hour later, we returned to the scene of the crime to inspect our handiwork, and Old Man Lupo was out there with a baseball bat waiting for us.
He started yelling and waving the bat.
“I know how to take care of punks like you.”
We were busted, so we apologized and got out of there.
If someone wants to bust them, they’re busted
I suspect that the perpetrators of Tuesday’s school board prank made that same fatal error of returning to the scene of the crime. Just as the Zoom meeting was signing off, one boy interrupted by injecting some very offensive language.
It was beyond normal potty mouth into the realms of the inexcusable that will get you banned from NASCAR for a year. Then a second boy interjected an F-bomb.
What they probably didn’t realize is: 1. When you speak during a Zoom meeting, the name that you’re signed-in under pops up on screen; 2. I was live-streaming that Zoom meeting so the culprits’ voices and their sign-in names are recorded and online for anyone to see.
In other words, if someone wants to bust them, they’re busted.
The moment those kids cussed during the ZOOM meeting it snapped me out of my 12-year-old inner prankster and turned me back into a cranky adult again. Anyone who would do something that stupid deserves to be busted. Throw the book at them.
Of course, if there had been an Internet, or cell phone cameras, or video surveillance when I was 12 years old, many members of the Class of ‘83, including yours truly, would probably still be serving detention at Westfield Junior High.