Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Penny For Your Door

A simple, low-cost prank or revenge tactic in my college dorm was know as "pennying." Without getting into the specifics on a somewhat family-friendly blog, I will simply tell you it's a maneuver involving one-cent coins that leaves your target trapped inside his or her room with no way to get the door open short of a sledgehammer.

I first learned of the tactic one night of my freshman year, when I sat in 7th floor lounge of Hatch Hall at the University of Missouri, reading a true-crime book when the usual gang of jokesters ran in.

"Phase One is complete," their leader said, removing a woolen scarf from around his face. "Now we move on to Phase Two."

He looked around the room at his floormates. "I pennied that door harder than I ever had in my life." He was talking about the Resident Assistant's room on the all-girl floor above us. She had a rotten reputation, rightly or wrongly. Fearless Leader was beginning the first of what was to be several covert operations involving people doors, property or both.

"I oughta be in the Marines!" he bragged.

As his team reassembled, they decided they needed to go back in and stir up more trouble. So they slipped back under their scarves and masking, shuffling up the stairs. From the lounge I heard screaming, shouting and pounding as they hammered the R.A.'s door at 11pm. Within half an hour, my own covert surveillance revealed the girls had gathered around the door, trying to see if they could get it open without calling the Fire Department.

She never knew Fearless Leader was behind it. He even anonymously called her room, just to ruffle her feathers. Her boyfriend went on the prowl looking for the culprit but never found him.

Next year, a friend of mine across the hall got pennied in twice and somehow managed to escape. I somehow dodged the copper curse.

The flip side: these pranks could've been far worse. Some dorms are not that much different than frat houses. Get a bunch of boys together in a small place, and testosterone rules, even in a so-called "honors" dorm. Besides the pennies, I observed furniture capers, domestic disturbances, casual drug use, copious smoking, liberal drinking and freestyle flatulence.

A group of Physics students would sit at one of the lounge tables after dinner and do their homework together. As X approached Y, air approached the exhaust system and vented with no comment from the dutifully assembled.

Later, the cigarette gang would take over, filling half the room with a cloud of grey smoke descending from the ceiling like a cancerous fog.

"I think the smoke's getting a little thick in here," one said, yet nobody bothered to open a window.

Not that I really cared. Welcome to college. Check the door.

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