Teen Tales is a weekly feature connecting the YA experience with YA literature.
I'm going to go out on limb here and guess that I'm not the only one who played pranks on people as a teen.
One of my girl friends wanted to ask another friend of ours to Preference, and she came up with a diabolical plan. With his mother's permission, we sneaked into his bedroom while he was at football practice. We had four rolls of toilet paper. He had a small room. It was significantly more awesome than this picture.
Why we thought toilet-papering a guy's room was a hilarious way to ask him out, I'll never know. But it was, at the time. That's the fun about pranks-- while you're doing them, they're the funniest thing in the world.
Unless, of course, you're on the other end of the prank.
For example, my extended family once had a family reunion at a lake. My grandpa had a "water buoy," which was basically a motor on an inner-tube that pumped oxygen down a thin hose and into a scuba mask. It was so much better than snorkeling.
I was enjoying a dive, held under the surface by a weighted belt, when my oxygen suddenly cut off mid-inhale. I barely had any air in my lungs, and I was about fifteen feet under. In absolute panic, I forgot to pull the lever to drop my weighted belt as I struggled toward the surface. Finally, I broke the surface and ripped off my mask.
My cousin floated next to the water buoy, my air hose in her hand. Kinked.
Teasing and pranking can have a good place in YA lit. Not only is it something we can all connect to, but it can be a great way to portray characters and their psychology. What does the character find funny? Do the other characters get a kick out of it too, or do they get upset? Why does the character pull a prank on another-- is it just a joke, or is it meant to be cruel or embarrassing? How does a character react to a prank being played on them? Character relationships and psychology can be illustrated brilliantly through a simple prank.
So, my friends, have you ever played a prank on someone? Have you had a prank played on you? Have you ever used it in your writing? Does the word "prank" no longer sound like a word because I've used it so much in this post?