Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gentlemen, Start Your Looting!

I am an atrocious actress.

My dad was pulled over by a state trooper for speeding as we were heading "into town" (I love saying that....couldn't, living in suburban Chicago), and the trooper asked, "Are you Tom's dad?" I immediately cackled out loud and thereby ruined any fabricated story Fahjah was going to come up with to get out of a ticket. The trooper knew Brother and was apparently amused by the whole thing, therefore we were released ticket-free. Wait. What? Let go ticket-free? Because of my brother??

Here's the reason I couldn't contain myself: Most of Brother's driving past is checkered with hooligan behavior involving all sorts of vehicles. The EC is not a big town (62K) and I remember hearing Fahjah talk about the occasional co-worker who would approach my dad and say something to the effect of "Hey, I saw your son yesterday..." followed by a detailed tattling involving, say a one-wheeled pass for example. Eventually my dad must have started doing the mental version of the fingers in the ears while singing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" out loud just to tune out the "Hey, I saw your son yesterday" conversations. Brother's exploits had started to become legendary; his employer at the time had stickers made and sold them to anyone who was on the same make of motorcycle as him. Stated plainly to deter the po-po from exercising retribution, "I'm not Tom."

Another example: At a toga party, when a handful of drunken us had somehow climbed a 7-foot wrought iron fence to go skinny-dipping, it seemed the cops were there before I had even completed one lap. When asked to hand over my driver's license, instead of silently obliging in an effort to avoid further legal issues, I cracked, "It's in my other birthday suit." What saved my ass? Higher priority call in the area. Whew.

So, relying on me to play a joke on someone, or to blatantly lie to a victim of a prank, or to utter a boldfaced fib to get my way...I suck. If I'm the criminal mastermind and I am free from the stress of face-to-face interaction with the patsy during the prank, I rock (see: Golf is Satan's Game). So, should you choose to involve me in misdemeanor crime, I'm like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

Some time ago, when I lived in the Land of Flat, prior to my nasty streak as Junior Pranker, I worked in IT (1 company, 14 years, 4 different jobs). Occasionally, travel to sales rep offices would be required to set up networks, install new computers, etc. On this particular trip I drove the 2 hours north to Milwaukee on a fine June day. Whatever was required of me at that sales office was going to take the better part of a week, so I got a hotel room and visited with a couple of friends when I wasn't working at the local sales office. The upcoming weekend was the Indy car races at the Milwaukee Mile. My dad had been going to this June race (the weekend immediately following the Indy 500) for years and since, at that time, Fahjah and Brother had been living up here in the EC, this was a good opportunity to spend time with them, so I kept the hotel room for the weekend. We went for dinner Saturday night at the Safe House...a Milwaukee landmark. Afterward, some mischievous energy overtook all three of us...we were headed back for the hotel when my elder spied a race banner out in front of a liquor store, zip-tied to a fence. Brother, impish devil that he is, brainwashed Fahjah into "freeing" the banner from its moorings. And the feeding frenzy began.

Eventually, Fahjah decided he should return to the hotel room "to post bail." Brother and I went back out in my trusty 2-door (man, I miss having a sunroof...and manual transmission). "Lovely evening for asshattery, don't you think?" After lifting our 4th or so banner, Brother spied the mother lode. All lit up, definitely bigger than the previous "finds"...and TWO STORIES UP. Looking back, I suspect it was my brother's Mount Everest. Why? Because it's there.

The owner of that now-closed-for-the-evening establishment thought he was so smart, mounting his banner way up there. As the getaway driver, I parked behind the building and waited. Like a blond, gangly ninja, Brother bounded off toward the side of the restaurant, while I watched through tear-filled eyes (What? You thought I'd make it through this without hysterical, paralyzing laughter? We were lucky I could manage to compose myself enough to drive back to our room. My mug shot would've looked like I survived a tear-gas attack, but only just so). Somebody had the convenient foresight to install a chain-link fence only a couple of feet from the building and it was excessively high, as if to say, "Let NO height deter you from that misdemeanor, er...banner!" Brother scampered up between the fence and the brick wall like a monkey and disappeared over the top of the Mansard-style roof.

Finally a giant wad of noisy, crumpled plastic flew through the air and landed feather-like on the pavement near my car. My brother climbed down just as nimble as going up, though I didn't see it. I was too busy with my head rammed against the steering wheel, cackling merrily (and likely loud enough to alert the neighborhood) while the tears ran and the snot flowed. While I sucked in a gasp of air, I heard "Pop the trunk!" and blindly reached for the lever. Brother hopped in next to me and reported that the banner was stapled the entire way around and, at first, he tried to be stealthy; the banner was completely illuminated. He reached one arm over the edge of the roof and started out picking at a corner of the banner, popping the staples out carefully, while trying not to expose too much of his theivery to the passersby below. Realizing it would take too long, he said he finally just stood up, grabbed the corner, ran the length of the roof, and ziiiiiip! One swipe, no more staples. When we returned to the room and I rested my aching sides, I swear I saw a gleam of pride in Fahjah's eyes.

That banner was later stapled to the ceiling of my dad's garage. Brother stapled it starting at the corner where it met one wall...across the two-car-width garage...

...and down the opposite wall another 3 feet.

I told you it was big.


  1. And all we stole while in Milwaukee together was construction cones and a stupid B&B sign! How come I miss all the really good stuff??
    I forgot about "I'm not Tom", so fun to revisit that!

  2. Sure hope that statute of limitations has run out.