After the spectacular reaction to the April Fools Day edition of the blog I am once again humbled by the amazing group of people reading along with me on this journey to better health. While typing away late at night on March 31, I pictured readers shaking their heads as they skimmed the post and reaching the punchline with a small chuckle or a half-hearted harrumph. It seemed mild on the scale of April Fools Day madness, but it was something that I’d thought of months ago and I was excited to have fun with it.
As it turns out, for some people this was on par with the original radio airing of War of the World’s in 1938. I was threatened with bodily harm and called several embarrassing, colorful names. I can tolerate a good shin kicking or a shoulder punch, but being called Fuchsia and Chartreuse really hurts.
While I was watching the April Fools comments rolling in early Sunday morning with my middle child, we were amazed by some of the reactions. She is an insightful young lady and often gets right to the heart of the matter with laser like accuracy. She turned to me and said, “Wow, Daddy, they really care.”
Not a lot of recovering Standard American Diet victims are lucky enough to have a group of people that care about their well-being. The fact that I seem to be that lucky is on the verge of overwhelming. Who am I kidding, it IS overwhelming.
My background in the residential camping industry primed me for a life of pranks and practical jokes. I could start an entirely new blog just reminiscing about the decades I spent as a summer camper and staffer, and the good-natured mayhem that I witnessed or caused.
There would be a post about the time a friend and I tiptoed through the dark camp at 4am and unearthed the huge pole and giant bell that signaled activity changes throughout the day. It weighed more than two people could reasonably carry, but since we were in our early 20’s and ignorant about what we were and were not capable of, we carried the huge thing back across camp and into the sleeping quarters of a neighboring cabin. We then stifled guffaws all the way back to our own cabin and slept soundly long after an annoying bell should have woken us up.
Another post would describe an epic tale passed down by counselors from the early 80’s when I was still a camper. Across the lake sat another camp that was considered our arch enemy, mainly because they were the only other camp for miles. A brave group of our counselors canoed quietly to the enemy’s shore and at 4am they reached their giant signal bell. Legend has it that the group rang the bell for several minutes, wondering why the evil campers and staff were not pouring out of their cabins to investigate. About this time a few sleepy eyed staff members stumbled up to our good guys and explained that this particular session was specifically for deaf campers. Prank FAIL.
The Bed of Toads is one piece of a much larger story from the early 90s that would take many, many posts to explain. It was a tale of pranking brinkmanship between two of the smartest and most devious practical jokers ever. It was like watching two deadly assassins hunt each other. One of the volleys fired during this campaign involved placing more than 100 toads under the top blanket of the target’s made bed. In the dim light of the sleeping quarters, the victim never saw the covers moving before pulling them back and preparing to dive into bed. *
During 1988, my summer as a CIT (Counselor in Training), I was part of an epic ghost story that was told to around 40 campers on the shore of our lake. The story teller was a master, sharing the sad tale of a crazy cave diver who got lost in the lake many years ago while hunting for cursed treasure. With the audience seated on the sandy shore facing the lake, the sun slowly set as the story unfolded, silhouetting the story teller who was facing the audience and the woods beyond.
The story timing was coordinated with another counselor who was not visible to the audience. He was underwater, wearing scuba gear a few hundred feet off shore. At certain intervals during the story he would create a burst of air bubbles with his regulator while making the water glow with his diving light. The kids would all shout and point but by the time the story teller turned to see what they were pointing at, the disturbance was gone and the story continued. The story’s climactic ending was punctuated by a seaweed covered scuba diving ghost lunging out of the water and dragging the story teller back to the haunted depths. Of course, no camper saw this because they were all sprinting through the woods like any sane person in that situation would do.
So in addition to asking forgiveness from those of you who felt more pain than pleasure from my April Fools Day post, I guess I should also beg forgiveness from countless children and young adults who I’ve terrorized over the years. I’m honored that you cared enough to be worried about me making a dumb mistake. Never fear! I wont let you (or myself) down by giving up now. This is my new life and I am humbled to be able to share it with you.
*no toads were harmed during this prank