No. 213



Have you ever been guilty of pulling a practical joke on someone and it turned out differently than you intended? If you have, then you should appreciate what I want to share with you during our visit today. Most of my experience with practical jokes came when I was called into active reserve duty during the Berlin Wall crisis and was sent to Fort Polk, Louisiana. Fortunately for me I was assigned to the medics and for some reason those big tough guys in our unit never picked on me. I figured out later that these big guys were afraid of a little bitty needle.

While the practical jokers in our unit never intended to hurt anyone, here are a few of their favorites. They would catch some soldier asleep with his arm hanging off the bunk and fill his hand with shaving cream. The next step was to tickle his nose with a feather. A slightly different version is when they would put his hand in a pan of warm water. We are in trouble if I have to explain this to you. Of course the old favorite was short-sheeting a bed. This is when your feet get to the end of the bed way too quick.

When it comes to practical jokes however, one of the best I’ve ever heard, while not true, was told by Grant Teaff, former coach at Baylor University. I was in the audience when he told it and several years later we corresponded about another matter. It seems Coach Teaff and his defensive coordinator big Bill Young had decided to go deer hunting. One morning before daylight they left Waco, Texas (home of Baylor University) and drove out in the country.

About 30 miles from town in good deer country, they came to this ranchers house and Coach Teaff volunteered to go and ask this rancher if they could hunt on his property. Grant said that when he knocked on the door he could hear this man’s feet hitting the floor as he walked, “plomp, plomb, plomb.” When he opened the door, Grant said, “Sir, my name is Grant Teaff and my friend Bill Young and I were wondering if we might have permission to deer hunt on your property.”

This fellow responded, “Coach Teaff, I’m a staunch Baylor fan, never miss a home game, and I would be honored to have you and Coach Young hunt on my property.” However, there is one thing I would like to ask you to do for me. Do you see that old mule down by the barn?” Coach Teaff said, “Yes, I see him.” The rancher went on, “Well, that old mule has been special but he has reached the end of his days and I can’t stand the thought of putting him out of his misery. Would you shoot my mule for me?”

Coach Teaff said, “That’s not my specialty, but I’ll do it for you.” When he returned to the car and got in, he sat there a moment, sulked and acted dejected. Big Bill Young said, “What’s the matter?” Coach Teaff said, “That old man ain’t going to let us hunt. Just for that I think I will shoot his mule.” At this point, the coach raised his gun and fired. No sooner than the shot had rang out, he heard, “Bang, Bang.” Big Bill Young said, “let’s get out of here, I got two of his cows!”

As I said, this is not a true story but it does serve to illustrate what can happen when a practical joke goes bad. There is only one word here that fits with regard to practical jokes. That word is don’t because once we do it, the results or consequences are beyond our control. Believe me, it’s not the humanitarian thing to do and it could do irreparable harm. Even if it just hurts someone’s feelings, it is definitely not worth the risk. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)