Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cunning Stunts

For nerdy kids, there were few greater feelings than successfully pulling a prank over on someone. Not only did it get you laughs, strengthening your sense of theatricality, but it reinforced a vague sense that you were smarter than the adults.

Of course, looking back, the adults were probably just playing along to not crush your self-esteem. I mean, kids aren't really known for their self-control or patience, so when you suddenly started spouting,
"Hey mom, why don't you sit down? Like, right here? On this cushion? Aren't you tired, huh? Why don't you sit down," they probably knew what was up.

At least my parents played along with my practical jokes, my friends were once chased around the table by their murderous dad after he found a fake fly ice cube in his drink.

The company S.S. Adams (sadly, no relation) made it easy for kids with cheap practical jokes in just about every supermarket. This one-stop shopping area could get you joy buzzers, fake soap, snapping gum, whatever your heart desired.

While the packaging was amazing, the actual mechanics of the toys usually left something to be desired. That joy buzzer looked awesome, with that 1950s businessman jumping out of his shoes with lighting bolts all around him. When you actually used it on someone, it made a pathetic little 'bzzzz' sound as your victim just sort of stared at you. Of course, the joke was pretty much over when a ten year old you offered to shake hands with someone. What kid shakes people's hands? It also didn't help that it looked like you were a little kid wearing a wedding band.

S.S. Adams inspired a brand loyalty that would rival that of the guy at work that's always yapping about the newest Apple whatever, mostly because they were cheap and readily available. They also seemed a bit more realistic than the stuff advertised in comic books.

Although I really, really wanted my own personal 7 foot Frankenstein, my dad explained that it was just a cardboard picture and he couldn't really be used to settle neighborhood scores. Besides, all that stuff had to be mailed away for, which seemed a long, confusing and boring process, possibly involving checks.

Also, who had the patience to wait 4-6 weeks to wait for your X-Ray Specs or Sea Monkeys or...holy crap! The guy who invented X-Ray Specs and Sea Monkeys was a member of the Klan and the Aryan Nations? Shit, I'm glad I didn't unknowingly finance Hitler by buying those X-Ray Specs I really wanted.
Jesus, I wonder where the money for that 7 foot Frankenstein would have gone? NAMBLA?

Anyway, S.S. Adams is still going strong, and not affiliated with any creepy causes that I could find. Next time you're at the store you should pick up a can of those jumping snake mixed nuts. Looking at the packaging, they haven't changed since like 1962, but that's not the point. Everyone knows that you have to play along with that sort of stuff.


the diva said...

Mom & I hid a joke plastic cockroach around the house for a while when I was a kid. Imagine coming into the kitchen very sleepily in the morning and pouring a bowl of cereal that had a huge roach in it. It was always believable because there were so many real roaches in that house anyway. For years Jill & I hid a hideous 8 x 10 picture of our former stepmother, who closely resembled a Halloween-grade witch, in various places in our homes. She would come over to my apartment and hide it in my shower or on a calender. Then I would go to her house & do the same, once putting it in Amber's onesie right before she needed a diaper change. Jill was completely silent when she found it. I got her the best though when I put the smaller version of the picture in her manger scene at Christmas. Evil Patsy looked out over Baby Jesus for days before Jill found it. Strangely, neither one of us can find the picture now.

Anonymous said...

The molten hot anger that spawned from the buggy ice cube incident was due to the fact that our dad didn't see the fake bug and bit down on the ice cube, nearly cracking his tooth. We still thought it was hilarious, which of course just made him angrier. Hey, did I ever tell you the one about the homemade egg cremes?

scott said...

Oh hell yeah, you've told me the homemade egg creme story. It ended with your dad getting seltzer in the face like Crusty the Clown, then chasing you and Chris around the table.
I love that just about every story involving your dad ends with him chasing you and Chris around the house.