And every now and then I catch myself thinking I’m a dull person. BUT. Then I remember all of the pranks I’ve pulled and the fun I had doing it. And all of the wonderfully tasty things I’ve eaten, and all of the places I’ve visited. And my friends. I don’t think I’d have such great friends if I weren’t marginally interesting. Those are the reassurances I pull around myself like a downy blanket on a chilly morning when I’m moping about being boring.
One of those stories that beats away dullness with a pitchfork and reminds me of the silly/wonderful days of high school is the time we went of gnome-stealing. You have to understand up front that I AM boring, horribly boring, if I don’t have people to egg me on. Those pranks? Were mostly instigated by some other soul. Thankfully someone invented peer pressure. What would high school be without it?
On the particular occasion of garden ornament theft, I was a senior in high school and one of the oldest girls on the school swim team. You see, every year the junior and seniors teamed up one night to kidnap the sophomores and freshmeat. These girls were taken to Denny’s (a 24-hour diner with abysmal service), fed breakfast, and then taken back to school and made to wear customized t-shirts in front of the entire student body. These t-shirts often had ‘special’ slogans on them. If you didn’t have a whole lot of self-possession, it could be a harrowing experience.
So there I was at the annual sleepover, minding my own business, drinking plain Gatorade and decorating a couple of t-shirts on the night before the big morning, and someone said, “Let’s go gnome-stealing!” It so happened that we were in a part of town where almost every lawn had some sort of ornamentation, be they gnomes, flamingoes, toads, plastic flowers…each one had something seriously ugly in it. And somehow I ended up in the van, tense with fright and consternation, and really, really not sure if it was okay. At least a part of that fear had to do with the fact that the driver had been drinking suspicious Gatorade.
Everyone was taking turns dashing out into the street and grabbing something, slowly filling the back with a variety of lawn ornaments. The jolting starts and stops of the van, the giggles in the background the soft ‘whoosh’ of the van doors opening and closing as another miscreant went off into the night – all were mingling to create an atmosphere of hysteria and hilarity. I was worrying enough for all of us about what would happen if the cops pulled us over. Just then, the door opened, and someone pushed me out of the car.
I stumbled out onto the pavement, indignant and scared, and even though I knew I wasn’t ‘doing the right thing,’ and even as I compulsively listed through all the consequences in my head, I ran as quietly as possible into the nearest yard, snatched up a gnome (they’re heavier than they look!), and sprinted back to the car. After I climbed in I erupted into giggles of relief, just like all the rest.
Later on someone took those lawn ornaments to the rival high school’s sign, arranged them and took a photo, and sent it in to the local newspaper. As far as I know, no one was ever caught. I like to think that most of the gnomes found their way home. But the flamingos probably didn’t, and that fake cactus wouldn’t have stood a chance. Lawn ornament hierarchy at its best, folks.
And THAT is the sum total of my gnome thievery. I told you it was a (very) short career.
I recounted this tale at the behest of Steph Bowe, awesome blogger and author extraordinaire. Her novel, Girl Saves Boy, comes out in September in Australia, and 2011 in the USA. She is hilarious, and she also writes about garden gnomes. You should probably check out her blog.