Stupid teen pranks are older than I am — and they most certainly pre-date my daughter. Setting cherry bombs, toilet papering neighborhoods, crowding into telephone booths (or Volkswagens), even drag-racing seems downright nostalgic now. "Oh, those krazy kids!" It's not that the stunts weren't dangerous — watch Rebel Without A Cause, if you have any questions — it's just hard to take them so seriously when they're coupled with poodle skirts and bobby socks and ducktail hair.
Pubescent pranks are probably here to stay. But, there's something about living in the technology age with social media and digital cameras and instant access to all things (and everyone, everywhere, all the time) that has made teenagers even more eager to do stupid things than their adolescent ancestors. Not just teens either, full-fledged grownups are guilty too.
For example, a few years ago when my daughter was still in middle school, I wrote about "The Cinnamon Challenge." This completely dumb activity involved eating a spoonful of cinnamon and then choking. ('Sounds like a fun time to me. Um ... NOT.) Apparently, videos posted of participants spewing powdered cinnamon out of every facial feature were hi-lar-i-ous and earned hundreds and thousands and millions and bazillions of hits.
Doctors warned that the game carried a real threat of asphyxiation. But, since when does that deter a determined teen?
Other trends of recent times include "Planking," lying rigid on a surface that wouldn't normally be meant to hold a recumbent human body. Stupid? Yes. Safe? Not always. A teenager actually fell to his death after planking on a terrace railing. (See earlier response "Yes" to earlier question "Stupid?")
Then there are the idiotic and extremely dangerous pranks like "The Choking Game" and "Eye-Balling Vodka." Yes, that's as disgusting as it sounds. Yet somehow not quite as disgusting as some of the other ways teens choose to get drunk while avoiding calories and that tell-tale booze smell. (I'll spare you the details, but if you're curious, watch the infamous swim party episode (1:7) of Girlfriends Guide to Divorce.)
The latest trend to pop up on my radar (which means it's probably been out there for weeks, months or even years) has got to be one of the dumbest things I've ever seen. It's called "The Condom Challenge," and is a young adult mashup of a traditional water balloon fight and "The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge," with some prurient titillation thrown in for good measure. The new gag is best pulled off with two people. One fills a condom with water and dangles it over the other person's head, then lets it go. The condom temporarily covers the recipient's entire head in a latex bubble before bursting and soaking her.
What a great way to spend one's time!
But wait, there can be complications. The latex might not break; the prank's victim might fall and hit her head; she might pass out or suffocate or pass out and then suffocate.
And, I've left out the most important piece of the prank puzzle. As any self-respecting millennial will tell you, the entire experience must be recorded for posterity and posted, here, there and everwhere.
Congratulations. Now, you know about "The Condom Challenge." I guess it could be worse. I mean, no one's died yet.
But, they might.
Die of embarrassment that is.
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