Harmless but Hilarious: A Prank

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Women used to have these things called “hair rats” that they put in their hair to achieve certain styles. They went under the hair, I believe. By themselves, they didn’t look quite wholesome.

One day my friend Ellen came out with her mother’s hair rat in her hand. “Look at this!” she cried. “Doesn’t it look like a poo?”

“Wow! It sure does! Let me borrow it for a little while.”

With the hair rat hidden in my pocket, I went back indoors, picked up a comic book, and locked myself in the bathroom. My mother was seated at the dining room table a few steps away, working on her comptometer. (Do those exist anymore? Let me see if I can find a picture.)

I stayed in the bathroom for a while, reading the comic book and occasionally making a loud noise that I hoped would suggest meant that I was having some difficulty. By and by I emerged from the bathroom with the hair rat in my hand. I went up to my mother and held it out for her to see.

“It wouldn’t go down when I flushed,” I said.

The joke had the desired effect. “Aaaagh!” Her reaction was all I could have hoped for. It certainly banished any sense of boredom she might have been experiencing.

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And here’s a comptometer like my mother used to have. Invented in 1887, it was an extremely fast mechanical calculator, since superseded by computers. My mother was a skilled comptometer operator, which meant some extra money for the household.

Note: I don’t know why I want to write about practical jokes today. But who am I to shoo away a pleasant memory?

6 comments on “Harmless but Hilarious: A Prank

  1. I actually used a comptometer at a summer job that I had in my teens. I was pretty fast at adding and multiplying, but I slowed down a lot on subtraction. And now I can’t for the life of me remember how to do the subtraction. Oh well. I haven’t seen a comptometer in decades, so I don’t imagine I’ll have to relearn the skill any time soon.

  2. I remember when young on a summer day I was in a room full of kids in my family’s den. My mom was making ice cream cones for everyone, and as she did one of the littler ones came up to her with a turd in his hand. Well, how did my mother respond? She took it from the little boy and then handed him an ice cream cone. You can see why I never forgot this incident.

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