A few weeks ago, some friends and I had plans to meet up for Christmas-ish dinner. One of our group of friends, Irene, was unable to attend because she lives in the Bay Area, so we planned to FaceTime with her so she could kind-of still be there. Then another friend, Nick, came down with a rather violently symptomatic flu — and, in the interest of not being grossed out, we decided against using FaceTime with him (plus, there’s a chance we’d interrupt a nap or something anyway).
For several years now, I’ve had a tradition of including geographically (or otherwise) challenged party guests via a little gimmick I like to call Heads on Sticks. It all started one day when I decided that Ryne Sandberg needed to come to a gathering with me, so I printed out a Ryne Sandberg face and mounted it on some disposable chopsticks. Another time, my friend Tina couldn’t come to a party because she was going to be out of town, so Tina’s head-on-stick represented her at a friend’s house. Bill Adams was spotted with a few of us at Murphy’s on Merchant Street when he was actually in Baltimore. And so on. I don’t recall how many times this has been done, but photographic evidence exists of at least these instances.
So of course Nick had to be at our dinner. And he was! We even surprised Irene by showing “Nick’s” face as soon as she answered her FaceTime call. Many laughs were had.
FaceTime with Irene.
FaceTime with Irene . . . from Irene’s perspective.
Wil, pictured above, thought it would be hilarious if we were to anonymously send Nick-on-a-Stick to Nick, just to see how he would react. More laughs were had, and we agreed to embargo all photos from that evening that included Nick-on-a-Stick until the prank was up, including a real gem of a group shot.
A couple of days later, Wil sent Nick-on-a-Stick out in the mail, a task that was more challenging than we’d anticipated. We created a specific Facebook chat for the co-conspirators, separate from the Facebook chat all of us usually use to communicate, and Wil posted these images there:
Success! (H. Simpson is a reference to The Simpsons: Tapped Out, an iOS/Android game that all of us play except Nick, who tried it and decided it wasn’t for him. We wanted to be mysterious, but not to the point where Nick wouldn’t be able to identify any suspects.)
We sat on the photos . . . and waited.
Oh, and we used delivery tracking. Or we tried. Wil informed us that the package was scheduled to be delivered the next day, December 21. But I entered the tracking number on USPS.com on the 21st, when we didn’t hear from Nick, and the website informed us that delivery was then scheduled for Christmas Eve.
So we waited some more.
Fast forward to Christmas Eve, 4:30 p.m. Alternate Facebook chat was abuzz with anticipation. But then Wil started to have doubts: “Maybe I did the tracking wrong. I used the automated system but didn’t put the tracking sticker on it.”
So it was a whole week after our dinner, and we could only assume that Nick had received the envelope.
For days, the conversation dragged on:
“Maybe he really doesn’t know who it was?”
“Or he’s getting back at us.”
“It’s a battle of the wills!”
“But he must be stymied, right? It’s unlike Nick to be silent if he knows it’s us.”
“Yeah. I’m sure he would have said something. Maybe we need to start talking about Homer.”
Seriously. Days and days and days of conversations like this. We even tried baiting Nick in the original group chat, asking him whether he’d received any unusual mail lately. No dice. His replies were sporadic, and we found out that he’d been having a frustrating week, totally separate from our issue. So we felt bad . . . and so waited some more. We wondered whether he was mad. I personally wondered if he’d contacted the postal inspector or things had otherwise gotten serious.
Finally, today, I couldn’t take it anymore. Nick was active on the chat, so since I knew he would respond, I posted the group photo (below) and asked him if it looked familiar:
He said no and that he thought we had superimposed his face on the group shot we had previously posted to Facebook — we took one without Nick-on-a-Stick, too, so that we would have something to post. But then Wil posted the screen caps from FaceTime, and Alice mentioned that some postal employee was driving around with Nick’s head on a stick in his/her vehicle.
Nick’s response upon realizing what was going on: “I’m on a frickin stick!”
Nick: “Oh! That’s what that is at the Post Office.”
Nick: “It was from B. Simpson LOL so I never went to pick it up!”
Irene: “Lol!!!!! . . . It didn’t fit in his mailbox!!”
me: “And dammit, why does your building not have a parcel box?!”
Wil: “He does have a big head after all . . . ”
So now Nick has gone back and is laughing at our epic prank fail. This may not seem as ridiculous to you as it is to those of us who were directly involved, but consider that these shenanigans spanned a period of TWO WEEKS. A complete epic failure on all levels. “So epic,” Irene quipped, “it’s classic.” Indeed.
Moral of the Story: Don’t be a no-show at dinner. ;)