My Life, by Aasma Day, November 17, 2015

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We all love a good practical joke… except the ones that backfire and turn the prankster into the butt of the joke, that is. Stink bombs, itching powder, fake dog poo – these were the highlights in buffoonery when I was a child and it makes me smile now to see my own children tickled by such capers. Our son in particular has a horde of silly stunts up his sleeve courtesy of his variety of joke sets and we often find ourselves sitting on carefully planted whoopee cushions, being offered sticks of gum which ping your finger with a spring and finding ‘ice cubes’ in our drinks.

As we get older, we still like a good laugh, but jokes tend to get a bit more sophisticated than a fake nail going through the finger with a blood stained bandage. Social media is often the playground for tricks nowadays – and there’s always plenty of gullible folk out there, me included, who fall for them. Some of them can get a bit tedious though as they do the rounds so often you can see straight through them and wonder how anyone could be so daft as to believe them.

I did have a chuckle the other day though at one of my friend’s posts on Facebook. She outlined how she was “fuming” as a year ago, she lent a so-called “friend” £1,000 when they needed and how this friend called her 10 times a day but now they don’t even answer her calls. She then added that she didn’t expect her money back and wasn’t in need of it, but was committed to never seeing that person again in her life, so had decided to put that person’s profile on Facebook so others would know not to lend them money. Then followed a link to see the person’s profile – and out of pure nosiness, of course, we all click it to see who this cheapskate friend is. And lo and behold, as soon as anyone clicks it, the site cleverly brings up their own profile. Now, while I found this “chain joke” amusing, it turns out other people out there didn’t see the funny side and were taken in completely – to the point where they were apoplectic with rage at being wrongfully accused.

I read about a woman who saw a post on a similar vein posted by one of her Facebook friends. The tale told how this person had £1,000 in her car while her friend was in it, and how both the cash and her so-called friend had vanished without a trace. The hoodwinked woman was so outraged at being “accused” she left a torrent of abuse on her “friend’s” Facebook page ranting about how she hadn’t even seen her for four years. She even threatened to report her friend to the police for falsely accusing her of a crime she hadn’t committed. Whoops! I bet she felt a bit stupid when she discovered it was meant as a bit of a laugh. But this is not the first and certainly won’t be the last time a prank has backfired.

A friend told me how she and her school chums ended up in trouble when they decided to draw on another girl’s face with make-up while she was asleep during a sleepover. Thinking it was harmless fun as the make-up could easily be washed off the following morning, the group were aghast to discover their friend had extremely sensitive skin and was allergic to most types of make-up. Her face came up in such horrendous rashes and welts, she spent the next few days off school. And it was a long time before her mother allowed her to go on a sleepover again.

Jumping out on someone with a loud “boo!” and making them jump out of their skin is always a good one. Except one friend told me he did it to his mum when she came back home – only to be walloped by her umbrella as she thought it was an intruder. It’s not as bad as what one friend confessed to me though. She told how around the age of 11, she and her friends jumped out to scare another friend as a little joke. But they were the ones left scared out of their wits when their victim was so scared at suddenly being jumped on, she started having an asthma attack.

It seems a little cruel to laugh at the next one, but I did have a cackle when I read about the teenage girl whose April Fool’s Day prank on her boyfriend backfired spectacularly. She pretended to dump him via text message and told him she didn’t want to be with him any more as she wasn’t happy. But to her shock, his reply was: ‘Thank God you said it first so I didn’t have to.’ Oh dear.

Pranks are supposed to be lighthearted jokes you play on friends that involve some clever deception and don’t cause any lasting harm. If you don’t succeed in being the perfect practical joker, you know what they say don’t you? Practice makes perfect.