Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 136: Valentine's Day Prankster

I love Valentine’s Day. I always have. From the days of construction paper mailboxes in elementary school to sharing the holiday with my very first Valentine, I always get excited about February 14th. I know a lot of people think that it’s a stupid made up “Hallmark” holiday, and it is, but I don’t care. With or without a Valentine, I think it’s fun celebrating love!

So with Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I decided to do something nice for someone else. 2010 was a year that I was going to be without a Valentine, but I refused to let that stop me from spreading joy and love to anyone that would take it.

I went to a list of “random acts of kindness” and saw an idea that felt appropriate for the holiday.

Day 136’s thing I’ve never done before was to send flowers to someone, anonymously.

Sounds sweet, right?

Only the idea to surprise my friend Lisa quickly went from a random act of kindness to a prank.

Not because I intended it that way. But because if you send a single girl flowers anonymously two days before Valentine’s Day, an innocent kind gesture quickly becomes a cruel joke.

I’ll admit, my reasons for choosing Lisa were not all innocent. She’s single too, so I knew she’d turn herself inside out trying to figure out who sent them, like I would. I sensed she’d be embarrassed by receiving such a gift at work, which amused me, but I knew she’d think it was funny and overall a nice gesture once she found out they were from me.

I told my friend Elizabeth my plan and once she got involved, the two of us were like evil mastermind pranksters ready to blow this sweet little plan completely out of proportion.

Deciding what to send her became the biggest challenge of this project, as well as the part that pleased me the most. I’m embarrassed about how much fun choosing this gift was for me.

At first we thought, the bigger the better. Balloons, stuffed animals, cheap flowers, possibly fake ones? The possibilities were endless!

Then we decided to make it less over the top. The goal was to make her think, “Wow this guy has really bad taste," or "My friends are jacking with me, there is no way this is real."

We scoured several websites and had a difficult time finding the right thing. Nothing was jumping out at me as being believable or quite tacky enough.

There was a beer mug full of carnations that was humorous, but far too obvious that it was a joke.

There was a wreath made of fake flowers that was simply hideous, but also clearly a prank. Plus, even I wouldn’t spend my money on it.

Balloons would’ve been fun, but none of the sites that I looked at offered them as an option.

Elizabeth and I were only sure about one thing: there had to be a stuffed animal involved in this gift. Stuffed animals for Valentine’s Day are beyond cheesy and that’s what we wanted.

Finally, I decided on the “For My Valentine Gift Set” that included a teddy bear, chocolates and a rose plant. I ordered them, and wrote on the card, “Hey Lisa, I know you’re so embarrassed that I sent you these at work. I love hanging out and hope we get to hang out again soon. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

I felt quite proud of myself for a moment.

And then I started to feel badly. Really badly.

What if Lisa doesn’t think this joke is funny at all? What if it really upsets her? What if what I think to be a harmless prank really does cause her pain?

I went back to Elizabeth, and she said it was fine. But she’s in San Francisco, so if drama ensued, she would only have to deal with it from afar.

I didn’t want to ask any of our other friends, because I knew they’d tell Lisa, so I asked my brother. He used to make a living out of being mean to me, and he always enjoys a practical joke. I told him what Elizabeth and I did.

"Whoa, that's mean," he said.

Craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaap. My stomach turned. If Jeff thinks it’s mean, it must be reeeeeeeally mean. I was regretting this joke in a big way.

"This is why I don't play pranks," I said to Elizabeth the next day.

I put myself in Lisa's position. She and I work in offices similar to one another in that she knows her co-workers well. She hangs out with them socially. If I got flowers at work anonymously, I would've automatically assumed that it was one of my colleagues trying to mess with me.

Finally Friday came and Lisa and I were exchanging emails about the weekend and what we’d been up to that week. At around 2pm Lisa’s emails stopped.

“I think she left for the day,” I emailed Elizabeth.

Now if pranks are supposed to be fun and laughs for everyone, this one was a huge bust. I was not having fun. I was stressed.

I checked the UPS Tracker for the 50th time that day and when I saw that the flowers had been delivered, I panicked.

At first I didn’t know whether to be disappointed that she probably left for the day without getting them, or worried that she got them and she was too distraught to keep emailing me.

She called me at around 4:30pm to ask me my weekend plans. After we had talked for a little while, she said, "So, listen to this..."

She went on to tell me what I already knew: When she returned from lunch for a co-worker's birthday, there was a box waiting for her. Inside, a teddy bear, a rose plant, and a box of chocolates.

She got it. I was relieved. And then scared.

“Who are they from?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said. She went on to read me the card that I wrote.

“That’s weird,” I replied.

“Did you send them?,” she asked me point blankly.

“What? No…no…of course not,” I replied. I’m a terrible liar. Terrible.

I listened as she told me who she considered they could be from. I threw out suggestions of my own. Awful, I know. She said when she received them she immediately looked at her co-workers and said, “Alright, which one of you jerks did this?”

We agreed that if whoever did it was doing it as a joke, it was a pretty expensive joke.

“You’re telling me,” I thought to myself.

Thankfully, though she was stumped about the sender of the gift, she was amused, and she and her co-workers had shared some laughs over it. I almost told her that it was me when she blurted out, “I’ll bet it was Elizabeth.” I nearly lost it.

I emailed Elizabeth, still on the phone with Lisa, “SHE THINKS IT’S YOU!!”

Just like Elizabeth and I had no doubt deciding Lisa should be the recipient of our prank/gift, Lisa had no doubt that the two people likely to pull it off were Elizabeth or me.

Lisa ended up being my Valentine this year, so on Saturday when we were out on the town, I revealed to her that it was, indeed me, and Elizabeth, that sent the gift. She seemed relieved to know, having spent most of Friday with her roommate trying to crack the case. For that, I felt badly. I begged her to forgive me, which she did. And said the chocolates were tasty and she fed the teddy bear to her dog, Murray. Everyone wins.

We texted Elizabeth and played another prank, this time on her. We texted, “Lisa is REALLY pissed about the flowers.”

Elizabeth didn’t buy it, unfortunately.

This challenge proved nothing more than I am a terrible prankster. Thankfully, I chose the right person who was a good sport about it and everyone is still friends. But for the record, if anyone wants to send me flowers anonymously, or otherwise, my favorite flower is the tulip.

Just saying.

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