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Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Pocket Guide to Mischief

The product details on indicate that this book was published on February 1st; however, let me tell you that my copy arrived on April Fool’s Day, complete with a whoopee cushion.*

Christopher accepted the gift like it was a stone tablet found on the mountain, and when Steve came home from work he was beside himself trying to get Steve to sit down in one of the dining room chairs.

“Please,” he urged, “please Daddy! Please sit in the chair.”

Steve decided to torment him for a little bit, saying he wasn’t tired and didn’t feel like sitting, but thank you very much.

“Oh, Daddy, please,” he begged, and by this time his desire had nearly doubled him over.

With much sighing and exasperated sounds, Steve finally sat down, an action that was heralded by the trumpeting of the cushion.

Tears squirted out of Christopher's eyes as he fell over, completely helpless with laughter. His unbridled joy was infectious, and if you have never had the opportunity to introduce the concept of a whoopee cushion to someone, well, I heartily recommend it. He took the whoopee cushion to school the next day, where it met an untimely death at the hands of one of his classmates, but for 24 glorious hours he was in possession of the greatest invention ever made.

So I’m not sure I’m going to give him the book that came along with it. He may have a stroke.

The Pocket Guide to Mischief was written by a junior high school teacher, a revelation that should surprise no one, as the book is filled with anecdotes and snappy comebacks that an eleven year old would most certainly run around and use on all who have the misfortune of crossing his path.

I am married to a mischief-maker myself, by the way, a man who repaid an office debt of twenty dollars by sending his nemesis a quarter every day through inter-office mail. A man who took all the pencils of the same (very short) nemesis and stuck them in the porous office ceiling so they tauntingly hovered over his head all day. A man who, when in the army, surreptitiously booby-trapped a training area that his COs had already booby-trapped, causing his superior officers to set off all kinds of unexpected, startling explosions. So I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur.

This is a book for beginning mischief makers, and true to his junior high school teacher roots, King has to first urge his readers not to get carried away and do stupid things, like hurt someone or themselves.

Then he delves into the nuts and bolts of mischief-making, the first rule of which is to acquire a nemesis to bear the brunt of out all these new-found skills, some of which include wedgies and tp-ing someone’s house, which is apparently illegal in some areas of the country, so watch out. The Pocket Guide to Mischief also pays homage to mischief makers of the past, like the Yale students who conned the Harvard students into holding up placards that said “We Suck” at a football game.

Mostly, though, the book just teaches you how to be goofy, and I’m not sure junior high school boys need lessons on that.


*I thought it was spelled “whoopie,” but spellcheck corrected me. Wikipedia votes with spellcheck, but the NY Times book section agrees with me. Controversy! Controversy! Fight!

The Pocket Guide to Mischief
by Bart King
February, 2008 by Gibbs Smith
Paperback, 272pp
ISBN: 1-4236-0366-4

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