Ain’t No Flies on Me-Or How to Pull a Practical Joke

In Texas, we used to say winter comes on a Tuesday in February. Blink and you would miss it. In Alberta, summer comes on a Thursday in July. Fun fact, July is the only month that it hasn’t snowed here in the since I’ve lived in Calgary. Snow in August is most awesome. What all that means is that once June hits, our weekends get pretty full. Usually by sometime in May between my wife and I we will have every single weekend booked from the beginning of June until the end of August. This weekend we are off to Northeastern Alberta to a lake house with friends. Why in the world we would choose to go more north is beyond me, but I’m sure it will be fun. I say all that to excuse myself from posting for a few days. Packing to do, lots of driving followed by probably lots of drinking, cuz really, what else is there to do in the Canadian shield? Hope there is running water…..

I’m posting this short story for my middle son. I have a couple of pretty good practical joke stories, this is one starring my dad. My dad was a pretty outgoing guy and liked a good practical joke. But really, I would almost consider him an outlier. The ones you have to watch out for are the quiet, methodical planner types. Their jokes tend to be more thought out, way better planned and they don’t seem to care so much how much internal strife they foist upon their victims. In fact, they seem to be the types who really take perverse pleasure in watching someone else’s agony. Anyway, here is the story:

My son asked me for this one, it’s his favorite along with a practical joke story that will come soon enough. This is pretty short, which will make some of you happy!

When I was 7 years old, my dad got transferred from his job at a chemical refinery in Texas City, Texas (we are really original with our city names down in Texas) to a new one in Hahnville, Louisiana. He was going there to be the supervisor of the maintenance department. I’m sure it was a bit of a culture shock, as things are a bit different in Louisiana (stories to follow! Ya you right).  When he gets there, one of the first things that happens is one of his new guys says “Richard, I bet you $10 that I can drown a fly and make it come back to life.” Now in 1967 $10 is a pretty big bet. And dad had been around enough to know that he was going to be taken, but figured $10 was a small price to pay to get in good with his crew a bit, so he goes along.

So the Cajun gets a glass of water and someone catches a fly. Buddy puts the fly in the glass, seals it with his hand, turns it upside down and shakes the glass until the fly “drowns”. Then he pulls the dead fly out of the glass and holds it in his palm. He then gets a salt shaker, shakes the salt on the fly, cups his hands together, shake the fly and salt and starts incanting some Cajun French mumbo jumbo. Not sure what he said, but there would have been some Fais-do-do or pauve ti bete or lagniappe, or Laissez les bons temps rouler or some other such indecipherable (unless you are from there) phrase. Anyway with a dramatic flourish he opens his hands and lo and behold the Lazarus fly flies away to live out the remainder of his life doing resurrected fly things. “Pretty amazing, how did you do it?” “Cajun Magic.” Is the reply. So dad forks over the $10 and probably says, “now get your asses to work” or something similar. What happens is the fly just goes into stasis, it does not really drown. The salt draws the moisture out when you shake it up and ta-da! live fly.

A couple of years later, a new guy comes on the crew. Dad pulls him aside and tells him that the crew will try to bet him $10 on the fly thing, probably during a break or lunch. Go along, but make the bet $20 (and dad gives him the $20). But make them agree to these conditions: They have to leave the fly in the glass until the next break or lunch. Not wanting to make the boss mad, the guy agrees and right on schedule, during lunch, the crew proposes the fly bet and agree to the conditions. After they all go to lunch dad goes back to the lunch room, takes the fly out of the glass, shoves a pin through its head, and puts it back in the glass.

The guys come back to the break room for afternoon break. They immediately pull the fly out of the glass, salt, mumbo jumbo with hand shaking, flourish, open hands and the fly just lies there.  More salt, more mumbo jumbo shaking, flourishing and the fly stubbornly remains dead.  My dad says “damn boys, looks like that fly had a heart attack or sumthin.” The crew stubbornly gives up the $20. When the new guy finds dad later to give him his money, dad lets him keep $10 “all I wanted was my money back!”

Sometime later (like years if I remember this correctly) he confesses to the fly resurrection crew. They are not amused and want their money back “boys, I figure you’ve pulled that stunt a bunch of times. I’m not giving you your money back, I’m sure you’re way ahead. In the future, you might want to think twice before doing it to the new boss!”

PS: thanks to everyone who has read these so far. I’m at like 500 views, which is a bit shocking to me! Im blowing up in Hungary!

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