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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Vacation (Now We Prank Away)

I recently mentioned that I’ll be visiting Glacier Park in a couple of weeks. It will be nice to get away for a few days, to relax. To recharge. And to hike around an oversized ice cube for fourteen hours a day in the middle of rabid cold angry bear country.

I digress.

The real danger in leaving is the possibility of mischief being perpetrated on my office desk. There are a number of gag-happy pranksters in the company, and their preferred modus operandi seems to be pranking while someone’s back is turned. Or more accurately, when someone else’s back is stuck to a clammy airplane seat, flying off to faraway vacationland.

“Fuzzy bunnies may or may not have been harmed during the making of this mischief. I didn’t ask. I don’t want to know.”

They’ve had a lot of practice at this, and they’re ruthlessly efficient. One guy left for a long Easter weekend; by the time he got back, there was Easter basket fluff filling his cubicle chest-high, and a prominent cotton tail on his desk chair.

(Fuzzy bunnies may or may not have been harmed during the making of this mischief. I didn’t ask. I don’t want to know.)

Should the prankers-that-be turn their attention my way this trip, I’m an easy mark. Glacier Park is kind of a gimme, frankly. It practically pranks itself. I might come back to a desk festooned with icicle-shaped Christmas lights, for instance. Or an office filled with water and flash-cooled into a solid block of ice. Or maybe everything will be frozen solid in place with liquid nitrogen, so when I sit in the desk chair it explodes into thousands of jagged plastic shards. Maybe they’ll move in an Eskimo family. Or maybe they’ll get creative; these are just the easy ones.

Some trips are not quite so conducive to in absentia tomfoolery, of course. Take my boss, for instance. She’s returning soon from a several-week working vacation / sabbatical spent in Eastern Europe, and the prank patrol recently came by to brainstorm their ‘revenge’. Problem is, none of them (or I) are so good with the geographies. Or Eastern European culture, apparently.

The gang stopped at my desk for details: When’s she coming back? Today or tomorrow. You mind if we screw around with her desk (an appreciated courtesy, as it’s next to mine)? Not in the least. Prank away.

Great, they said. Now, there’s just the matter of what to do. Where did she go, anyway?

Croatia. And a couple of other countries, maybe in the former Yugoslavian region. Slovakia? Slovenia? Lichtenslavensteinenstan, maybe?

We blinked at each other for a while. We got nothing.

Somebody asked whether they make borscht in that area. None of us know; nor do we have a way to get our hands on several hundred pounds of beets. One person says he knows “a turnip guy”, but nobody’s really sure what the hell’s in borscht in the first place. This goes on the “maybe” list.

What about a Borat theme? Wasn’t that where Borat went? Only three people in the group have seen the movie, but they’re pretty sure it was set in some fictional country. On the other hand, at least one of those three has never heard of ‘Croatia’ before, so he’s thinking it might be the right place. Another maybe. And a mental note to never ask that guy to join any kind of bar trivia team we put together.

Ooh, says another. I think Hostel was set in Eastern Europe. How about that?

We agree that he’s probably geographically correct, or as close as any of us would know, anyway. We also agree that unless he’s suggesting we dump blood and dirt and implements of torture all over her desk to “welcome” her home — Hostel-style — then his idea’s not so very good, is it?

And if that is what he’s suggesting, then his brain isn’t very good, either. The guy may have huffed too much of that Easter fluff.

Finally, we turned to Wikipedia. Because that’s what one does in the modern age, when one takes a mild and temporary interest in something and wants vaguely relevant and slightly dubious facts listed as quickly as possible. Some people are good at gleaning information from these pages.

Those people are not the ones we sent.

Hey, said our Wikipedia man. Croatia’s two biggest exports are cruise ships and refined petroleum. Can we use that?

Well, sure, sport. Dump a can of WD-40 on her desk, plop a toy boat in the middle, call it the Exxon Valdez and call it a day. Way to go, Captain Internet Thing Finder!

Digging further, we found that there are, in fact, quite a lot of tourist attractions in Croatia. But we had no idea which ones she might have seen, so that was a wash. There’s a region in the area called Dalmatia; someone offered that we could paint everything in dalmatian spots, or adopt a bunch of dogs from local shelters and park them on the desk.

That seemed like a stretch. Also, no one had any poop bags, and that could become a problem in a hurry. And anyway, if we couldn’t come up with one hundred and one of the things, then what was the point, really? None of us have that kind of time. Or the trunk space.

So we’re back to square one. At this point, it looks as if my boss is actually off the hook. Maybe someone will come up with a last-minute grand idea — something with gypsies or vampires or Cold War-era brutalist architecture, maybe — but for now, the prank gang are stumped. The secret to not having your shit tampered with, apparently, is to vacation somewhere that people aren’t familiar with.

To that end, I’ve changed my summer travel plans. Or so I’m telling people at the office. In two weeks, I’m not going to Glacier Park. Oh, no. Instead, I’m vacationing in central Turkmenistan. In Serdar, formerly Gyzylarbat. In the foothills of the Alborz mountains.

Yeah. Let’s see those oil-slicked Borat boinkers do something with that.

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