The Long-Term Effects of Practical Jokes (or "Why The Bathroom Door is Always Locked")

I was going to post an article I'd done about Nebraska football, but being that this is April Fool's Day, I concluded no one would take it seriously. Instead, I'm posting something I'd written a few years ago that has nothing to do with Nebraska football, nor the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

I does have to do with my days at Nebraska, though, which makes it fair game. I'd like to take this time and apologize if I've permanently scarred any of my former roommates, with the exception of you, Roger. Who are you throwing your dirty snot rags at now?
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I played so many jokes on people when I was younger that I have spent most of my adult life paranoid that they'll come back to haunt me. What goes around, comes around. Someone said that. Maybe it was my Mom. I forget.

Let me explain. A favorite practical joke goes as follows. Its best played against a college roommate. It works even better if you have more than one roommate because the other can be in on the joke. Here's how it goes:

Everyone enjoys a hot shower, right? You wait until your roommate is in the shower, and then you wait some more. You wait for a few minutes, until they're comfortable, enjoying the hot water, the peace and comfort of the shower. They've left the door unlocked because you've spent the last few weeks complaining about not getting into the bathroom when they're taking such a long shower. When the time comes, you sneak in with a huge bucket or pan of freezing cold water and dump it over the top of the shower.

The result is a screaming roommate, one that has been rousted from peace. You know it's really worked if you hear them swearing at you. You and roommate number three are rolling on the floor laughing.

Wait a few months, and you can do it all over again. It's best if you include number two roommate (that you doused before) this time because there's nothing like playing the two roommates against each other. It wasn't your fault the first time, after all, you were talked into it, you tell this roommate, which is a complete lie. You came up with the idea all by yourself. Freezing cold bucket of water, the screaming, roommate number two roommate and you rolling on the floor, laughing.

This is, of course, only one example. There are hundreds of different practical jokes to pull on people. There are old standbys - the envelope full of shaving cream shoved under the dorm door, or filling out a Navy recruiting offer on behalf of a high school friend - and then there are those that are specifically designed for the target. I won't explain any of those for risk of increasing the need for revenge on behalf of anyone I nailed who might read this.

The long term result? A life long penance of religiously keeping the bathroom door locked no matter where you are because you know that your roommates have talked and it was your fault all along and now they're scheming to get you. You know that someday they will.  Twenty years later, there you are with the bathroom door still locked, your wife and your kids pounding at the door, and all you're sure about is that they want to dump a freezing cold bucket of water on you while you're enjoying a hot shower.

The most beautiful trait of humans is forgiveness and I'm sure that I'm forgiven.  What is very difficult for people is to forget, and I seriously doubt they've forgotten. Revenge is still there, in the back of their minds, waiting. I know that the shock of a bucket of cold water will only last a few moments, but it's the one-uppance and the following escalation that I can't handle.

Unfortunately, they've never come and daily I wonder, with the door still locked, will my roommates ever come to my home to release me from this angst?  Doubtful. I have nightmares that I'll die in a bathroom, in a hot shower, the paramedic delayed by a locked door. As I lie in the hot shower, immobized by ailment, I can hear them yelling that somehow a cold bucket of water could save my life.

Maybe I should seek therapy. Maybe it's some sort of syndrome.  I'm sure there's probably a pharmaceutical for it. I wonder if all the practical jokes I played was worth it.

Damn right it was.

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