If only we had applied ourselves to our studies with the same enthusiasm we applied to having fun, all three of us, me and my two roommates, were capable of being honor students, however, we were not so inclined to make that application. We were freshmen at Southeastern Louisiana College, a “suitcase college” only an hour from home, so most of us went home on the weekend. One of our diversions from study was what we came to call “Petty Wars,” which was a series of continually escalating conflicts involving silly trickery and gags between me and my two roommates, Sam Hopkins and Richard Caire, or between the three of us and some other person or group.
I forget how the Petty Wars started, probably some stupid college kid prank, like me stealing Sam’s Boston Cream Pie desert in the cafeteria. I distracted him by pointing out the “assets” of a particularly lovely coed, and when he turned to look, his slice of Boston Cream Pie, which was his favorite kind of pie, had disappeared into my mouth—all of it. He turned back to see me looking like a chipmunk with a years worth of nuts stuffed in my cheeks and Boston Cream Pie oozing from between my lips.
Or it may have been our stealing of Sam’s mother’s chocolate chip cookies, which he tried to hide in the dorm room. Come on! How many places can you hide a tin of cookies in a dorm room? Sam’s mother made great cookies. He did share them, albeit doling them out maybe one to each of us on Sunday night when we arrived back on campus. He figured that would satisfy us, and he could eat the rest while we were in class, assuming we even went to class, but that’s another tale.
Sam was and is clever, and he got me good. I came in from class one afternoon and neither Sam nor Richard were in the room, BUT “stupid” Sam had left his box of Chiclets Chewing Gum laying out on his desk—in plain sight—just begging to be stolen! Just in case you don’t recall, Chiclets come in a small box of about ten pieces of little pillow shaped chewing gum, each of which is coated with a hard sugar coating, like M&Ms.
Well—guess what? I scooped the pack up and tossed two pieces into my mouth and went to chewing. I then went next door and passed the gum around to our neighbors, commenting how “dumb” Sam was. They all took some themselves, and we finished the whole pack in one sitting.
HOWEVER, none of us took note of the fact that the “Chiclets” were not their usual square shape but were rectangular, and the flavor was a bit off. All we cared about was they were free and “careless” Sam’s gum.
Ever hear of a product called Feen-A-Mint gum? Wikipedia defines it this way: a laxative that stimulates bowel movements—kind of a dry way of saying you will become very attached to a toilet for the next 24 hours. Feen-A-Mints look an awful lot like Chiclets, and even taste a little like Chiclets, but they are not square shaped like Chiclets; they are rectangular shaped. That’s right, we all sitting there chewing away on a double dose of a rather strong laxative!
Sam got a good laugh, and for those of us who had partaken of “stupid Sam’s Chiclets,” attending class the next day was completely out of the question.
After that, the Petty War escalated but shifted from interpersonal to between rooms, namely the guys in the room next door with whom we shared a bathroom. We lived in Holloway-Smith Dorm. It was a two-story “V” shaped into two wings broken up into four room suites, two on each side of a common bathroom of four sinks, two toilets and a large shower stall. The rooms opened to the outside and also to the common bathroom, of course.
With a recent escalation of the war by our neighbors next door (I forget what they did but it demanded retaliation), I put my engineering skills to work, which turned out to be a pretty impressive skill set, considering I was an art major.
The exposed plumbing ran overhead in the bathrooms, a feature that proved beneficial for my “Mechanical Marvel” retaliation device. From the pipe above, I hung a large malt cup by two strings through the lip directly in front of the offending neighbor’s door. I hung it at about chest level. I attached another string to the bottom rim of the cup on the side away from the door and looped the other end over a pipe on the opposite side of the bathroom, pulled it taut, and tied it off.
Next step was to fill the cup with something gross. That turned out to be just water and shaving cream. Might have been a little urine in it; I don’t recall?
Now, the final touch: I tied a string to the lip of the cup on the side away from the door, looped the other end over a pipe on the other side of the bathroom, then carefully pulled on that string. As I pulled, the cup, supported by its bridle and now the third string, slowly swung up towards the ceiling. Get the picture? The cup is hanging from its bridle and the third string up near the pipes now.
I stretched out the string all the way back to the door of our target, tied a matchstick to the end of the string, then stuck the match stick between the door and its jamb. The “booby trap” is set, and we retired to the day room to watch TV.
About an hour later, we were confronted by a very irate neighbor, who was also very wet. It had obviously worked! And while he was mad, he was also impressed.
This is what happened:
- Target neighbor comes home and goes directly to the bathroom to relieve himself.
- He opens the door, releasing its hold on the match stick
- String holding the cup of joy up near the ceiling is no longer doing so
- Cup is now free to swing back to its rested position—and it does
- At the end of its swing arc, the string tied to the bottom rim goes taut, upending the swinging cup
- Upended cup dumps contents onto surprised target neighbor
He said when he looked up and saw the cup coming at him, he froze, mesmerized by this mysterious cup coming at him from out of the darkness.
No one ever topped that one for sheer cleverness. I should have studied engineering…