What girls do in the dark: Column
The pranking incident at the high school got me thinking about my own few times where I got a real kick out of acting a fool. Y’all know what I’m talking about: those nights when you’re out with your buddies, and there’s something in the air, just a current of energy, that just makes you want to act up.
I will preface this story by saying I’ve included no another perpetrator names but my own to protect the people who have stayed my friends for a long time and I want that to continue. I’ll also preface this story by telling you that I can count on one hand the number of times I got well and truly crazy in my life, and even those times weren’t that wild. That’s just not in my blood, much to the disappointment of my dad, whose teenage and college years are peppered with stories of nights so wild, I can’t tell them until all parties involved have Passed On, for fear there might be statutes of limitation still in play.
But I can tell you this story. I was in high school, probably a junior or senior, certainly old enough to drive, and my friends and I decided to have a girls night out. Normally, my group of high school friends spent our weekend time in one big boy/girl group at either Luke Marple’s lean-to (thanks Mr. and Mrs. Marple) or out at O’Brien Lake (thanks People That Owned O’Brien Lakes Campground in the Late 90s). There was always a fire and always good conversation, and we were a happy little group of 10-20 (depending on who was available on the weekends). But one night, we girls decided we’d splinter off and go bowling in Parkersburg.
I’m going to stop right here to let you know that I am, without a doubt, one of the worst bowlers the Lord put on this earth. I’m not kidding. I don’t know why. Maybe I just don’t bowl enough to make any improvement, or maybe I just don’t care enough to get better at it, but whether or not I actually play the game well is irrelevant to my level of fun at said bowling alley.
That night, in Parkersburg, hanging with my friends, I was horrendous. I bowled 20 gutter balls in a row. Twenty in a row. I started my streak in one game, and finished it in the next. It was so bad, the lane guy turned the bumpers on for me, and if you can believe it, I still managed to figure out a way to NOT knock down a single pin on the next throw. I think my final score was like 30, which my friends just found hilarious. And even with my horrible skills exposed for everyone to see, we had a great time. So great, that we weren’t ready for it to end when we got back to Ripley.
I can’t nail down exactly which of my friends said that we should go and prank our guy friends, who were having a camp out at Luke’s house that same night. But I do know that all us girls agreed that that sounded like a fantastic time, and we scurried into the still-open Parkersburg Krogers to stock up on boxes of clear Saran Wrap, giggling the whole time, and sure that someone at Krogers would stop us from being bad (spoiler alert: the staff at Krogers can probably tell when a bunch of teenagers with 10 boxes of Saran Wrap is up to no good, but they aren’t in the business of caring). And back to Ripley we went.
Now, it's important that you know that Luke’s house was at the very tip top of a large hill, with the kind of driveway that makes it impossible to drive up in without announcing to everyone that you’ve arrived. We weren’t about to walk the entire way up, so we compromised: We piled into one vehicle, drove it up part-way, parked it in the grass, then crept up to Luke’s house in the pitch dark. Because this was before cell phones, and also before we apparently developed any brains in our heads, because we didn’t even have flashlights. Have you every tried to not kill yourself walking on a gravely road in the dark with only a half-moon for light? I can promise you, cuss words were said (mostly by me). But to the top we made it, and there were all the boys’ cars, just waiting to be Saran-wrapped.
I’d like to tell you we were a stealthy bunch, that we snuck past the Marple’s lighted picture windows like shadows, that we deftly wrapped that Saran Wrap tight around their cars so it would be impossible for them to open the doors in the morning, and that we then snuck away without anyone noticing. But y’all have learned enough about me through this column to know that absolutely none of those things happened. We were a laughing mess the whole time, and more than once, someone would open the door at the Marple house, stare into the direction of the boys’ cars (where we would attempt to hide, and not well), then go back inside.
Then there was the matter of actually wrapping the cars. To perform this trick properly, you’re supposed to wrap the cars in a way that in the morning, you can’t tell there’s Saran Wrap covering the doors and you just keep pulling on the handle and can’t understand why the door won’t open. But as you can imagine, between our Saran Wrap skills and the darkness that kept us from seeing six inches in front of us, by the time we were done, that Saran Wrap was as twisted as a grapevine from us having to toss it to each other under the cars, missing each other’s hands and it hitting the ground.
But regardless, we had a great time doing it, and we scampered off back down the hill to our getaway car as quietly as possible (read: not quietly at all), until we were inside and laughing fit to kill. And now our adrenaline was up, and we were dying to do one more prank. So myself and my two best friends piled into my truck to pull one more trick, and how we even thought of it and what we thought we were accomplishing, I’ll never know.
The old Save A Lot was not a store I frequented often (being a Big R girl most of my life, then Krogers after that), but that night, the Save A Lot was my new favorite establishment for two reasons: after 10 p.m., it was closed and the parking lot deserted, and two, it had a selection of old shopping carts just sitting willy-nilly in said parking lot. Which made pulling in and loading one into the back of my truck laughably easily for me and my two buddies.
I want to say that while some people hate that there’s nothing to do in Ripley after 10 p.m., I personally love it, because if we had an active city after 10 p.m., absolutely no way would my friends and I had ever made it across town to the avenues by the high school with a shopping cart rolling around in the back of my truck without someone noticing, and probably, someone pulling us over and asking us about it. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a ready-made excuse for why I need a shopping cart at 10 at night.
So we made it across town, pulled up a few driveways down from our intended victim, wrestled the shopping cart out of the truck bed, then rolled it into our friend’s driveway. And that’s it, that was the prank. Why we thought it would be hilarious for him to wake up with a shopping cart in his driveway, I’ll never know, but the way we laughed about it all the way home, and laughed about it all night during our sleepover, you’d have thought we were the Eddie Murphys of prank comedy, just doing all these great pranks on the sly and no one ever being the wiser.
But of course everyone knew. All our guy friends knew immediately, because one of the late-comers to Luke’s campout spotted our getaway car on the side of the hill, but even if they hadn’t, our fingerprints were all over those pranks: From the terrible Saran Wrap job to the shopping cart in the driveway, it was obvious we girls, who never did anything like that ever, had attempted to pull some really not-extreme-at-all tricks on our friends that night.
The guys took our pranks in stride — they weren’t super impressed by our execution (seriously, that Saran Wrap job was the definition of janky), but they appreciated the effort. Not that we cared if they appreciated it or not: We enjoyed our prank spree then, and we love remembering it now. Because good pranks, ones where no one gets hurt and everyone gets a laugh, are always enjoyed as much on the re-telling as they are in the original performance.
So thanks to my girl friends for a night I’ll always remember, and to my guy friends, who were happy to be the object of our pranks (and even happier that the Saran Wrap didn’t ruin the paint jobs on their cars). And thank your lucky stars, Jackson County, that I’m now truckless, because re-telling this story? Well, to paraphrase an SNL skit, I’ve got a fever, and the only cure? A lone shopping cart and 10 boxes of Saran Wrap.
And I know where a lot more of y’all's driveways are now.