Friday, February 03, 2006

A Fool's Preparation

My best friend Brian lives in California, just outside L.A. He is a new father, attends grad school, and works a full time job as a program manager for Honeywell. Brian and I met in college.

Brian needs badly to have a practical joke played on him.

We have some history, Brian and I. I was his Glee Club “big brother” when he was a freshman. It was my job to watch out for him, to show him around the school, make sure he wasn’t failing out, etc. He was even more arrogant than I, if you can believe that. I took it upon myself to teach him a lesson.

One day early in April, I grabbed some letterhead from the University Humanities Department and typed out a letter to Brian. It said something to the effect that Brian had been awarded a little known honor, the Roman I. Pafallio Award. It described Roman as a Glee Club Alumnus around beginning of the twentieth century. He was someone who always went above and beyond the call. It compared Brian to Roman. It instructed Brian to go to the Alumni House to receive a gift of $100 and to have his picture taken with the University President. It was signed by the Head of the Humanities Department.

Except that Brian had class at the stipulated meeting time. Whoops.

Brian called the Humanities Department to tell them that he had a test and would not be able to come down for the photo. They politely asked him what the hell he was talking about. Brian read them the letter. As the Department Chair was not in his office, a general panic quickly ensued. The President’s Office was called, and soon everyone there also was hot on the trail of Roman I. Pafallio. The chase spread from there. For three hours one afternoon, the entire administrative staff of Worcester Polytechnic Institute stopped all productive work and went on a wild goose chase for a non-existent award named after a non-existent alumnus.

Finally, the Glee Club Director got a call. A desperate voice inquired as to whether or not he knew just what the hell the Roman I. Pafallio Award was.

His response, three times, was simply, “What day is it?”
The third time, all the voice on the other end said was, “Oh my God.” Click.

I know, I was sitting in his office at the time, trying not to smile.

Brian then received a phone call. Someone important offered him a heart-felt apology and informed him that he was the victim of a mean-spirited joke. Because it was pretty clear that someone in the club was responsible and it was my job to look out for Brian, I accompanied him later that day to the office of the Head of the Humanities Department, where Brian received an apology in person. I was asked to search high and low for the culprit guilty of such an awful act.

That night at rehearsal, I told everyone what had happened. I went to the chalkboard and wrote out


From then on it’s been open game between the two of us, until he moved to California. I feel the need to renew the rivalry. Any ideas, suggestions, or examples would be most welcome. I’m asking now to allow time for proper planning.