Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Retribution Machine

Many years ago, I worked for a mercifully short period of time in an office building. It was an interesting experience at first but it didn’t take long for the shine to wear off. Having spent so much of my life in close proximity to ripped Levis and steel-toed boots, I just assumed that a workplace noted for starched cotton shirts and men’s perfume would have more to offer in the categories of intelligence, honesty and civility. It appears that no amount of education will ever undo a hundred thousand years of natural selection (six thousand years for my gawd fearing friends). I have plenty to say about well-spoken liars and mealy-mouthed ass kissers but that will have to wait until another day because this post is about practical jokes.

Forgetting for a moment the misery of being cooped up with self-important nimrods and having to breathe their rank recycled air, I did meet a few people that I still consider good friends. None of them were natural born practical-jokers but they did ok for beginners. The gags started out small and fairly painless but eventually escalated to a level that could not be sustained. I knew the end was near when I walked into my little office to find what appeared to be a hundred pounds or so of trash piled everywhere. It was a simplistic gag but funny nonetheless. Then I noticed that several files that had been on my desk, files representing days of mind numbing data entry, had been dispersed in and around the detritus. The mound of trash consisted primarily of thousands of legal sized sheets of paper printed with black nondescript text. My missing documents fit the same description. I was so screwed. I used the downtime to plan my response.

The ring leader of that particular crime was a man of impressive dimensions, twelve feet tall with hands the size of ham-shanks. He was well over a thousand pounds of pure, unbridled teddy bear. Ok, he wasn’t that big, but he was big enough to warrant embellishment. I guess I could just hand over the cold hard data, but I think that would constitute negligence on my part. So that you might truly understand the enormity of this man’s physical presence, I submit the following.
I’m not a man hugger but every now and then I bow to social conscript and hug a man, always finishing with a hetero-style triple pat on the back. The triple pat is a common move that most men, even if they don’t use it, are familiar with. George Bush uses it on men and grieving widows alike. It is a maneuver that conveys the sentiment, “I’m hugging you but I’m not getting a boner.” There is a more modern version of the “homophobe hug” that protects against the accidental bumping of pee pees by employing a cross-the-body handshake. This method is fraught with affected machismo and is typically shunned by older males. Anyway, I did hug the big man once but a proper execution of the triple back pat was not possible due to the planetary scale of his person. I simply couldn’t reach around that far so I ended up patting him somewhere between his left nipple and armpit. I was terrified that he might think I was coming on to him and when I am terrified, I get a boner. We have never spoken of that event; he is truly a man of poise and decorum.

I have nothing but respect for the big man and I would almost never consider public humiliation an appropriate response to a practical joke, but he wouldn’t let up. He started sneaking up behind me during lunch excursions and hugging me. It was actually more grapple than hug, but to the random spectator, it was so much more than that. It typically went like this: He grabs me. I struggle. All heads turn in our direction. He looks at me like a porn star getting ready for the money shot and then he blows me a kiss. He finally stopped doing it when I retaliated by attaching myself to his leg at the checkout counter in a Soup-R-Salad. I felt like a Chihuahua dry-humping a redwood tree. He decided his little gag had run its course and we spoke no further of it.

Time passed and he thought I had forgotten about the paper incident. All the while, I was planning and building the Retribution Machine. The machine itself was an over-engineered manifestation of an anal inclination to convert two-dimensional pieces of metal into three dimensional objects, mostly for utilitarian purposes. The Retribution Machine started out as a flat sheet of light gauge galvanized sheet metal, a short length of pre-punched angle iron and a box of bolts, rivets and plastic tubing. For all of the resources expended in its construction, it was destined to be used as nothing more than a diversion, a gadget intended to clear the decks for the coup-de-grace.

-------------------------Back Side-------------------------
This is the Retribution Machine. It is a trip wire triggered device that sets off two cans of Silly String and an air horn. I originally designed it as a remotely controlled tracked vehicle, like a little tank, but I ran out of time and had to deploy it to active duty before completing the motorized carriage.

On his day of reckoning, I took the big man’s office door off its hinges and hid it in the file room to make sure it didn’t interfere with my setup. I then removed the fluorescent tubes from the overhead lights and closed the blinds. I tied the blind cords into knots and tucked them away out of reach, all except for one, the cord I wanted my friendly giant to tug on. I had just finished setting the trap and was sitting at his desk admiring my work when I heard a noise and looked up to see him standing at the doorway. He noticed the door was gone, saw me sitting in the dark, and knew something was up. He surveyed the office from a safe distance just outside the doorway. After checking overhead for the old water bucket gag and then hitting the light switch to no avail, he hesitated, allowing his eyes to grow accustomed to the dark. Then he saw the Retribution Machine sitting on the desk a few feet away. After a short study of the situation, he narrowed his eyes and grinned, nodding his head slightly as if to say, “Not this time buddy.” Then he crossed the threshold. The five-pound monofilament fishing line serving as trip wire made contact at mid torso and began to stretch as he moved forward. I thought it might snap before putting my plan into motion. I saw the thin crease in his shirt deepen as the line pulled tight; surely he would notice and back off. As it turned out, he did not notice and the line held as long as it needed to hold. The smug look on his face gave way to wide eyes and gaping mouth. The blaring horn froze him in his tracks long enough for my twin cans of Silly String to cover his face, shoulders and belly with wet slimy gunk.
Phase one: Check!

Mr. “Poise & Decorum” closed his mouth and quickly regained his composure. “Yeah” he said, “I saw that coming from a mile away.” I said nothing as he moved toward the blinds. He searched for, but could not find, the cord for the first blind and then moved a few feet to his right, reaching for the only available string. As I said, the Retribution Machine was only a diversion, a setup for a much more primitive device nesting overhead. Had he looked up, he would have seen that the ceiling tiles had been shifted slightly but he would not have seen the container holding about two pounds of gold, silver and blue glitter. He pulled the cord. Time really does appear to slow down in moments of danger. It also slows down when a glitter bomb goes off. I watched as the initial wad of glitter made contact with his head, exploding in a shower of sparkles. I was amazed at how long it took for the cascade to end. He turned towards me, his hair and beard glistening in the low light, and said “OK, you win.” He was still sparkling like a Party Glitter Barbie Doll days later. I had sprung far more elaborate traps, but that one was one of the most satisfying.

What brought all this to mind is our ongoing problem with thieves in the neighborhood. From 1976 to 1989 I lived in a seriously high crime area. Vigilance was a daily affair but even so, rarely a week passed that some crime or another didn’t spill over into my general area of concern. Regarding this current batch of neighborhood shoppers, I’m not surprised in the least and I’m reasonably sure I can knock a dent in this little crime wave without causing any major bodily harm (legal issues), and even more importantly, without painting a big fat target on our house (common sense). I toyed with the thought of rigging up something like an industrial sized chicken plucker and I have to say that the thought of a thieving jackass hanging naked and upside down from a tree in our front yard gives me a warm feeling deep down inside. Gotta be civilized about it though. A retaliatory response is currently in the design phase.


Blogger Crankster said...

I don't tend to write "lol," because, actually, I don't tend to "lol."

I lol'd. Repeatedly. I did not, however, "lmao," as "ma" is firmly attached.

I can't wait to hear your plan.

6:23 AM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger Judith said...

Im sure you have the mother of all revenge/retribution machines waiting in the eves for these pilfering bastards..

BTW was that guy not annoying? He of the sparkly bearded variety that you wrote about.

6:55 AM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger Jazz said...

... the misery of being cooped up with self-important nimrods and having to breathe their rank recycled air...

That is pretty much the best description of office life I have ever read. It's the misery of office life summed up in half a sentence.

Can't wait to read about the retribution this time around

8:15 AM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger Hammer said...

Aww man glitter takes months to fully dissipate if ever. Perfect!

9:09 AM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger Cheesy said...

"when I am terrified, I get a boner"



Hate to say it but....
I am looking forward to some dipwad targeting your abode!

9:28 AM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

Is that Paul Bunyan? Lovely pic.

Love your dry wit. Hate practical jokes - they always seem so cruel. And the whole heterosexual man hugging thing is totally beyond me - really, what's the big deal? Now dry humping a man's leg with a stiffy - that's entirely different.


9:33 AM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

I like your retribution machine. Can I borrow it?

1:18 PM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger Goncalo Veiga said...

If you ever get that thieve in that fashion please DO take photos of him!

Can't wait! Bwa-ha-ha-ha! (Dracula's laughter!)

1:26 PM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger Mystic Wing said...

Whew! I have a pretty fair repuation as a prankster, but I'd never want to compete with you, friend.

I, too, am dying to hear how you get even with the thieves.

4:43 PM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger paulo said...

You sound like you'd be fun to work with. Beautifully elaborate prank.

5:33 PM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger lampad said...

This is hilarious.

10:48 PM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi Crankster, I was going to say my ass is screwed on tight too, but it’s not coming out the way I intended.

Hey Judith, Retribution Machine ver.1.2 is on the way. Btw, my sparkly beard friend did have his moments, but the torment that I put him through more than made up for it.

Hi Jazz, based on my limited experience, I would rather take a long slow soak in a hot tub full of starving leeches than work in a large office again.

Hi Hammer, just when he thought the last little glitter was finally gone, another would pop up. It was a long time before he stopped glistening.

Hey Cheesy, ha! Funny. Regarding the dipwad, I hope he/she/it doesn’t show up before I finish my little project.

Hi Glamourpuss, that is in fact Paul Bunyan. It’s a pretty good likeness of my friendly giant too. In my part of the world, the “homophobe hug” is alive and well. The city in which I now live is an island of sanity and tolerance located smack in the middle of an ocean of bigotry and hatred. You can drive thirty or forty minutes in any direction from where I am and reach an area where people long for the good old days when "uppity" minorities and evil homosexuals could be dealt with at lynching parties. Very sad.

Hi Scott, you can borrow it when I’m done with it. I’m going to retrofit it to hold three air horns and use it as part of a camera trap.

Hi Goncalo, my final design is not complete but you can be sure a digital camera will be one of the primary components.

Hi Mystic Wing, I don’t pull pranks too often anymore. The older you get, more likely is it that your equally old (and frail) friends might end up with a broken hip or some other injury that old people get.

Hi Paulo, it’s like I always say, if you’re going to do a job, you may as well do it right.

Hi Lampad, thanks for your kind assessment of my humble efforts and thanks for dropping by.

11:37 PM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger ian said...

Slag, you crack me up. Remind me never to get on your obnoxious side. :)


1:01 AM, March 29, 2007  
Blogger mist1 said...

I have a business plan for a retribution services company. It is called One Thug or Two.

9:47 AM, March 29, 2007  
Blogger skinnylittleblonde said...

I love this are a force to be reckoned with!
Your retribution machine looks wonderful & totally peaceful!
i can't wait for more reports on your going-ons!
Man, if I had your ingenuity...I could clean up our whole neighborhood!

11:18 AM, March 29, 2007  
Blogger Sarah said...

You are genius!! How could anyone ever better Retribution through silly string and glitter ? Like all the other readers of your gorgeous golden blog I look forward to hearing about your forthcoming Revenge. Good Luck. S

11:43 AM, March 29, 2007  
Blogger Kara said...

You are fantastic. That is all.

1:00 PM, March 29, 2007  
Blogger Judith said...

you should be on the mythbusters team

3:19 PM, March 29, 2007  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi Ian, my obnoxious side is the only side worth being on. My other sides are weepy, paranoid, and gaseous.

Hey Mist1, I think you may have put your finger on the reason my retribution company failed so miserably. It was called One Hug or Two.

Hi Skinny, peaceful is the key word. Pardon the blatant generalizations but I’m pretty sure that violence is always the easiest answer to any frustrating situation; it is also the option that results in the most long-lasting detrimental repercussions.

Hi Sarah, thank you for your kind words but I can assure you that what goes on within the confines of my brain bucket fall way short of the “g” word. I do try to stand as close as I can to smart people though. Maybe I’m absorbing some of their residual intelligence.

No Kara, you are fantastic. I am eccentric. Eccentricity is often mistaken for fantasticinous ™.

Hey Judith, that would be a dream job. Unfortunately, I suck at math and those guys are all about the math.

9:59 PM, March 29, 2007  
Blogger Anne said...

LMAO!!!! then you're some sort of mad scientist, right? :D
Great story, thanks for sharing.

7:44 PM, March 30, 2007  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi Anne, mad yes but not good enough at math to be a scientist.

12:36 AM, March 31, 2007  
Blogger Big Brother said...

LOL, ah the lengths we'll go to to get sweet revenge. The glitter bomb is much like the old confetti in the air grill of a car joke. Both are fitting retribution and both last for a long time after. :o)

11:21 AM, March 31, 2007  
Blogger Sarah said...

Slaghammer, I have to disagree. As far as I am concerned your brain bucket is definitely up there on the genius scale.Not only do you have amazing ideas, you follow them through and create. You are genius. Mad genius maybe, but definitely genius.The standing next to clever people thing is an interesting thought. I can only surmise that I have been standing in the wrong places for some time. S

4:16 PM, March 31, 2007  
Blogger Orhan Kahn said...

The triple pat is a common move that most men, even if they don’t use it, are familiar with. George Bush uses it on men and grieving widows alike. It is a maneuver that conveys the sentiment, “I’m hugging you but I’m not getting a boner.”

Much lol!

6:12 PM, March 31, 2007  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi Big Brother, thanks for dropping by. It strikes me as funny that in the midst of being picked over by by the neighborhood reprobates, I’m blogging about glitter and considering the merits of putting confetti in someone’s air conditionor vent. The mood doesn’t at all fit the old saying, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” It’s more like, “Revenge is a dish best served with a rubber chicken.”

Hi Sarah, I looked up genius in the dictionary and I did actually find a definition that applies to me. It is definition number seven in 7. Either of two mutually opposed spirits, one good and the other evil, supposed to attend a person throughout life.
I pretty sure I’m the evil spirit but I have no idea who I’m supposed to be keeping an eye on.

Hi Orhan, I often narrate the triple pat when I see it happen in public. A typical event goes like this. “Hey Dirk! How have you been…Oh, hey, yeah…um…that’s not necessary..GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF ME YOU DAMN QUEER!
I live in the southern U.S. so the “homophobe hug” happens quite a lot around here.

1:29 AM, April 01, 2007  
Blogger Sarah said...

[edit] Definition
Genius is: 1) The act of solving problems originally. 2) The act of knowing that you are not the sole source of knowledge in the universe. 3) The suicidal tendencies of most people are flushed out of your system. 4) That you are what you are and you don’t try to change.

So, no mention of evil here, old chap. And anyway, how can a man who exacts revenge through glitter be evil in any way?Wicked, maybe...... S

8:32 AM, April 01, 2007  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi Sarah, wait a minute, you mean I’m not the only source of knowledge in the universe! And what’s all this about suicide and flushing and I’ll never be able to alter my fate? I vowed to always use glitter for good and not evil. Maybe it’s time to unleash the awesome fury of my balloons and party hats…filthy, evil party hats. ;-)

3:32 PM, April 01, 2007  
Blogger Sarah said...

Oh God, no!! Not the party hats! And please, whatever you do, don't be tempted by the evil that is...whistles. Personally I'm beginning to think that you are the only source of knowledge in the universe and I hope that you are not leaning towards any sort of flushing other than the necessary of everyday life.Be strong and use the glitter for good. There is not enough glitter in this world.Oh, and pleeease, for pity's sake, do something with that bloody monkey. He's staring at me again..... S

6:42 PM, April 01, 2007  
Blogger choochoo said...

I want a retribution machine, too... :)

10:08 AM, April 02, 2007  
Blogger Whippersnapper said...

OK, I've read this three times now, and each time it gets funnier. Time to get a publisher, buddy. No joke.

12:26 PM, April 02, 2007  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hey Sarah, monkey’s gotta make a living somehow.

Hi Choochoo, you can borrow mine when I’m done with it, or you can order one of my handy retribution starter kits. I call it the “Noggin Knocker.” It looks very much like any hammer that you might see at your local hardware store but it has a colorful label with the patented “Noggin Knocker” logo.

Hi Whippersnapper, thank you for your kind assessment of my humble efforts. Do you mind if I forward your comment to my redneck relatives? They are less than amused and not at all charmed by my eccentricities. If they somehow thought there might be profit in my blasphemous perversions, who knows where that might lead.

12:39 AM, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Malnurtured Snay said...

That pink chicken thing is fucked up lookin'.

5:54 PM, April 03, 2007  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi Malnurtured Snay, thanks for dropping by and thank you for noticing my totally fucked up chicken. It is a real chicken that was bred to have no feathers. I see the logic behind it but I don’t think they are going to catch on, just too freakish.

5:52 PM, April 04, 2007  
Blogger Malnurtured Snay said...

Happy Giant Bunny Rabbit Day!

6:21 PM, April 08, 2007  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi Malnurtured Snay, and a happy Egg day to you.

12:09 PM, April 09, 2007  
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5:18 AM, April 17, 2007  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hey Anonymous, I think you’ve missed your target audience by a few thousand miles.

9:26 PM, April 17, 2007  

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