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"Prank Yankers"



Ocoee police have announced that they will not file charges against city commissioner Danny Howell, who was found sleeping in his car with his shorts down in John Vignetti Park on Sunday morning, April 11, 2004. Howell's longtime friend, Tony Cristelli, has assumed responsibility for the incident, saying that his pal was dead tired on Saturday evening and went to the park to get some rest -- whereupon Cristelli took the liberty of lowering the unconscious Howell's pants. It was, Cristelli says, the latest in a long line of practical jokes the close pals have played on each other.


Bienvenidos, friends and neighbors. It's your good old Uncle Tony here, bringing you another chuckalicious missive from the land of larfs. You know, some folks think the affectionate burn went out with high-button shoes. And I say that's malarkey. Call them pranks, call them practical jokes, or call them plain old boners -- that one's still my favorite -- but Americans never get tired of seeing their loved ones humiliated in the most public, subliminally homoerotic way possible.

But it's not something anyone can do right away. Oh, no. If that was the case, being popular would be as easy as accosting any strapping young stranger at the bus stop and pulling his Calvins down around his ankles. While that might be good for a stray chuckle here and there, it's nothing you want to build an image on. Instead, you're going to need a plan of attack, a coordinated campaign of disturbingly suggestive mortification that lets everybody know you're the life of the party. And that's what your Uncle Tony is here to walk you through. Let's start with the basics and work our way upward, 'kay?

The old "hand in water" trick: We all learned this one at summer camp. (The lucky ones were awake at the time.)You wait until one of your bunk buddies falls asleep, then you dip his hand in a glass of warm water. Before you know it, he's wetting himself like Glen Campbell at last call. Classic!

Now, given that this wicked little trick is part of everybody's cultural DNA, you can see that it's going to take some serious re-jiggering for you to earn any mileage out of it in the adult world. Here's where Uncle Tony can help. It's a little-known law of physics that the process works in the other direction, too. What do I mean? Well, let's say you're on a business trip with the insurance company you work for, and you're sharing a hotel room with your top national salesman. As soon as you hear the sound of him sawing wood, run to the bathroom and fill up a glass with warm H20 from the tap. Now pull down the covers, find his prong and jam it in the glass. As if by magic, his hand will instinctively reach out and try to swat you away! Unbelievable!

But don't worry that you've committed some kind of faux pas; it's just a reflex action nobody can help. As soon as he comes to, you're bound to both have a good laugh about the priceless moment you've just shared. A webcam's even better for transmitting the hilarity to the folks back home.

Direct dialing: When it comes to getting somebody's goat, was there ever a greater device invented than the telephone? Not that I can reckon. And now that we're living in the age of the cell, catching your prey off-guard is easier than ever. The idea is to corner your buddy anywhere he's likely to be at his most vulnerable -- like at a city-commission meeting, maybe, or a planning session for a Bear Club cookout. Follow this sample script:

Your Pal: Hello?

You: Excuse me, but do you have Prince Albert in your can?

YP: Huh?

Y: You heard me.

Vintage stuff, just vintage. Oh, and don't forget: The bigger the crowd your victim is part of at the time -- and the more of his other amigos you can fit behind a speakerphone -- the worse feeling he'll have of being caught with his pants down.

Symbolically speaking, of course.

Sack the quarterback: This one's so good you won't want to save it for Halloween. It works best late on a Saturday night, when you and your compadre have already packed away a heavy 24 hours' worth of activity -- like attending Little League games, doing home-repair projects together, watching boxing matches and picking out studded chokers at Absolute Leather.

Drop him off at his house and tell him you'll see him tomorrow. Once he's inside, though, don't drive off. Wait long enough that you know he's fallen asleep -- or has gotten himself guilt-tripped into making love to his disgusting pig of a wife, who he's too good for and he knows it -- then go to work. You should have brought along one (1) paper bag full of dog droppings and a box of Fire Chief matches. Carefully deposit the bag on his front porch, strike a match and set the whole thing afire. Ring the doorbell and dash behind the bushes. When your totally brain-fried friend opens the front door and tries to stomp out the blaze, you'll be able to hear his cries of anguished frustration for miles -- until he notices the oversized images of child pornography and TV news crews that you've arranged on his lawn and falls ominously silent.

Oh, you'll need to get some kiddie porn and TV news crews out there without anybody noticing. Sorry if I didn't mention that earlier.

The big kahuna: Pranksters who have mastered these and other skill-building fakeouts may be ready to graduate into the big leagues. When you're ready, there's nothing more satisfying than peeling off a slam that takes years to hatch.

Basically, what you want to do is set your mark early, like when you're both kids. Grow up together, establishing a level of trust and admiration while you watch your patsy slowly rise to some rank of importance in your community. (It helps if you live in, say, Central Florida, where anybody whose breath fogs up a mirror can be a civic leader.) Along the way, build up a bunch of irreconcilable feelings toward your pal, channeling them into "innocent" displays of good-old-boy horseplay.

Sooner or later, your pal's guard is going to be all the way down. His work-related fatigue is going to catch up with him. And his political enemies will be circling like sharks, just itching for him to screw up big-time.

That's when you give him a good pantsing in a public park.

It takes time, sure, but you'll never forget that look on his face. And it beats seven shades of crap out of psychoanalysis.

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