“We’ve Just Come From Playing Wembley.”March 30, 2010
As we draw closer to April Fools’ Day, allow me to reminisce about great pranks of my past. I am a fair bit of a prankster, and I take great pride in elaborate and complex jokes that end in delicious reveals.
This one wasn’t like that. It just happened on its own, but it had one of the best payoffs I’ve ever seen.
It was sometime in 2000, several months after my near-fatal car accident. I know this because I was walking with a cane. It was a nice one, too; black-lacquered with a lapis lazuli inlay and silver fittings. I liked it because it was a little vampiric. But it was a necessity then and for a long time afterward.
Anyway, we were having a party at a friend’s house in a small town far from home, with about a dozen of us watching hockey, eating fried chicken hearts and drinking cheap beer. This is the sort of thing we did. Over the course of the evening, someone pulled out a cheap black wig, a short shaggy moptop, and I ended up wearing it. Backwards, if I recall correctly. I looked like someone from the Kinks circa 1966.
At the midnight hour, we adjourned to the country music bar down the road, where the locals took one look at us and spit out their tabacky. We were a motley bunch; One of the Patricks looked like the Fonz, and the other Patrick looked like that fat guy on Entourage. Mike was wearing his usual skinny black suit and big square black glasses, his hair sticking out in every direction. Natasha had blonde dreadlocks. Carrie had a corona of fire-red hair, and both ladies were dressed in a mix of what I would call medieval grunge rock. I was wearing jeans and a black duster coat, with the wig and a pair of huge sunglasses, carrying the cane. The locals were concerned.
We took over a corner table. Before too long, two young ladies of the tight-jeans-and-big-hair persuasion joined us, curious about who we were and why we looked so strange. And, for some reason, I started speaking in a ridiculous English accent.
- “My name is Nigel,” I said. “I’m the manager of this band and we’re here to rehearse for our Canadian tour.”
- “What band?” one of the Tammies asked. (Note: In this town, you could yell out “Hey, Tammy!” and at least three girls would answer “What?”)
- “They’re called The Rhythm Method,” I said. “We’ve just come from playing Wembley.” For some reason, I like to say “Wembley” when pretending to be English.
Now, these girls weren’t stupid. They figured out almost right away that I was putting them on, but everyone got into the joke and played along. This lasted about an hour, until it was time for us to hit the road. I said goodbye to the Tammies in grand pompous British style and off we went.
As we left, I stopped to visit the facilities. A huge farmboy followed me in, beer in hand. Here’s the conversation:
- “That’s a wig, right?”
- “Of course.” I knew better than to bullshit this guy.
- “I bet my buddies,” he said. “They dared me to ask you.” He was shy and young and not anywhere near as fearsome as he looked.
- “I have an idea,” I told him.
Cut to a couple of minutes later. I exited the bathroom, and the farmboy, who had left before me, stomped over, threw me against the wall and yanked the wig off my head, calling me “fag.” I responded by shoving him back. In moments, we were coming to blows in the barroom, his buddies leaping to their feet. My friends panicked. Mike waded in while Carrie and Natasha got ready to take them all on, because they were the toughest of us. Entourage Patrick grabbed a beer bottle off a table, swinging it like a machete.
The look on their faces when the farmboy and I ended up hugging and laughing made the whole thing worthwhile.
Later, we found Fonzie Patrick hiding in the parking lot.