It has been my contention for some time that we are losing our collective sense of humor.
As evidence, I offer recent reactions to senior class pranks.
There was a big controversy in neighboring Keller over students being banned from graduation for their roles. Just this week, USA Today thought enough of the subject for a front page feature, outlining several such pranks, and similar suspensions and criminal charges.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram dug into its archives for a photo of a cow being lifted onto a school roof.
I haven’t heard of what such pranks may have been played locally during the recent spate of graduations.
But I do remember my class’s prank quite clearly, though I did not have a direct role.
We showed up at school one morning a few days prior to graduation to find an old Morris Minor, painted in the school’s colors with all our names inscribed, filled with cans (mostly beer, as I remember) and the wheels removed and the lugs cut off so that no wheels could be reattached.
I would have to assume that the school picked up the tab for a wrecker call with an extra charge for the dollies. I don’t recall anyone getting into any kind of trouble for that. As word spread of the stunt, it appeared to have been pulled off by some of the most popular male members of our class – class officers, athletes, etc.
I don’t recall the prior year’s stunt, but the one before that was a sculpted giant hand, complete with a raised middle finger, which was placed on the school lawn and then filled with concrete so that it must have been a chore to remove it, and administrators wanted to move it quickly. Probably took a jackhammer.
Other memories include a motorcycle driven through the halls and something from the science lab being flushed in the men’s room causing quite an explosion. Those may have come at some time other than graduation.
The following year, streaking took over college campuses.
The question is this: Where do you draw the line between a harmless prank and criminal mischief?
When does a rite of passage become so egregious as to lead to repercussions of a semi-permanent nature, such as criminal charges?
Graduates have – or should have – some expectation that certain rituals will be carried out each year. I remember as Senior Skip Day approached hearing that the administration had agreed to look the other way if we would report for classes long enough for them to get their state money – second period I believe. Don’t know if that was really true, but that’s what we heard.
Rumors that we would be blocked from leaving the parking lot proved false.
There was one arrest that day, but the perpetrator was already out of school, not a member of our class.
We don’t throw dinner rolls during Lions Club meetings anymore. I’m told members even had their ties cut off back in the day. Perhaps that prank just got too expensive. After all, there’s fun and then there’s just mean-spirited. And besides, the number of ties at Lions Club anymore is very low.
A similar food-throwing incident in the “study” room on our college dorm floor led to the room being locked until we cleaned the mess. No charges or expulsions, just put things back in order.
Nowadays, folks seem more ready to attack, to lash out, to criticize, and much less likely to laugh – at themselves or with others.
Maybe that’s why I love to play golf. Most folks with whom I play aren’t good enough to take ourselves too seriously, so we use the time instead to socialize and poke fun.
Life’s tough enough. Let’s loosen up a bit.