My friend Spencer was the youngest of seven or eight kids, and even though his older brothers were mostly married with children, they were always popping in and out of Spencer’s house, which was where we hung out a lot of the time. Spencer’s brothers were the funniest people I had ever met, and we aped their sense of humor pretty shamelessly. But they passed something else on to us that was even more influential than their sense of humor, and that was their incurable affection for pranks.
Spencer’s brothers’ love of pulling pranks was exceeded only by the skill and ingenuity with which they pulled them. We were eager to learn this dark art that they had mastered, and they saw us as willing apprentices capable of carrying on their legacy. Although they were capable of giving expression to their genius through a variety of forms, their preferred medium was the prank call. And we’re not talking “Is your refrigerator running” prank calls. I’ll give you two examples:
One Saturday night at 9 or 10 PM a few of us were hanging out at Spencer’s house with two of his brothers. We were a little bored and started talking over a few prank calls we could make. I don’t remember whose idea it was, but I know that it involved calling DDDT’s own Christian, who at this point was around 13 or 14. The following is my best recollection of that conversation:
Spencer’s Brother: Hello, may I speak to Christian?
Christian: This is him.
Spencer’s Brother: Hello, Christian, this is Brother Jorgensen, the stake executive clerk. How are you?
Christian: Um, fine.
Spencer’s Brother: Wonderful. Christian, I’m calling on behalf of the Stake Presidency. They’ve asked me to request that you give a talk in Stake Conference.
Christian: Um, ok.
Spencer’s Brother: It shouldn’t be too difficult, just a talk on the oath and covenant of the priesthood.
Christian: Ok. How long?
Spencer’s Brother: Between 40 and 45 minutes.
Christian: 40 to 45 minutes?
Spencer’s Brother: Yes.
Christian: Wow. Ok.
Spencer’s Brother: Great, we really appreciate it.
Christian: Oh, by the way, when is Stake Conference?
Spencer’s Brother: Oh, I apologize, I assumed you knew that it was tomorrow.
Christian: Tomorrow? (At this point the panic in Kook’s voice is audible.)
Spencer’s Brother: Yes, tomorrow at 10 AM. We’d need you there at 9 AM. Will that be a problem?
Christian: . . . . . . . . . . No. I can do that.
Spencer’s Brother: Wonderful. We really appreciate it.
It took us about 10 minutes to collect ourselves, at which point we began trying out this amazing new bit on everyone we could think to call. After an hour or so minutes I realized that Kook still had no idea that the whole thing was a prank and was at home laboring away on a 45 minute talk. I called home and he picked up, but before I could even say anything I burst out laughing, causing him to realize he’d been pranked. He exclaimed in anger – and this part is word for word, because I remember it so vividly – “Davis!!!!! I’ve been crying!!!!!!” I had been, too.
This prank mutated and evolved into something truly beautiful, the highest expression of which I am about to share with you. Frequent DDDT commenter Jeff is the older brother of my childhood friend Matt. Jeff was one of Ryan’s best friends, and the four of us were in the same ward growing up. I can’t for the life of me remember why Spencer, Matt, and I decided to prank Jeff that night. It was just his turn, I guess. And so one Saturday evening we had one of Spencer’s brothers give Jeff a phone call, a paraphrased transcript of which you will find below:
Spencer’s Brother: Hi, Jeff, it’s Brother Stephenson, executive secretary to the bishop. How are you?
Jeff: Good, thanks, how are you?
Spencer’s Brother: Great, thanks for asking. Jeff, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but the bishop is quite concerned about the youth in our ward.
Jeff: Oh, I didn’t know that.
Spencer’s Brother: Well, he is. Very concerned. He believes many of the youth are falling prey to a lot of different temptations, and he believes there is a common thread running among them. Do you know what that is, Jeff?
Jeff: . . . . I don’t.
Spencer’s Brother: Peer pressure, Jeff. Peer pressure.
Spencer’s Brother: The bishop is trying to figure out how to help the youth withstand peer pressure, and felt like you may have some thoughts to share on that topic. Everyone in the ward knows that you’re a popular young man who does well in school, excels athletically, and is the recipient of plenty of attention from the young ladies. He knows how much the youth of the ward look up to you, and he feels that if you were to share your thoughts on how to avoid temptation and peer pressure that it could really have quite an impact.
Jeff: Oh, I’d be happy to.
Spencer’s Brother: Wonderful. We know it’s short notice, but we’re hoping you could do that tomorrow.
Spencer’s Brother: Yes, for about 30 to 40 minutes, give or take.
Jeff: . . . Um, yes, I think I could do that.
Spencer’s Brother: Fantastic. Oh, and Jeff, the bishop wants this to be a surprise for the youth, so if you could, please don’t come up to the stand until the sacrament has been served. Once the deacons are sitting down just walk up to the podium and join the bishop on the stand.
Jeff: Ok, will do.
Well, needless to say that I tossed and turned that entire night, debating whether what we had done was excessively cruel. Just kidding. I just couldn’t sleep because I was so excited for the next day. Morning finally came, and I headed to church, where Spencer and Matt joined me. Each minute of the first part of sacrament meeting lasted a decade. Finally, the sacrament ended, and the deacons and priests spread out to join their families in the pews. The moment of truth arrived, and it did not disappoint. Jeff popped up like a gopher and walked quickly to to the stand, ascending the steps and taking his seat next to the bishopric just as one of the counselors walked up to the podium to conduct the meeting.
Jeff gave the bishop a knowing smile, which the bishop met with a quizzical gaze. Jeff leaned over and said something to the effect of, “Just let me know when you want me to speak.” The bishop responded by saying, “But you’re not supposed to speak.” Jeff then said, “But Brother Stephenson called me and asked me to speak for 30 minutes about peer pressure.” The bishop smiled and said, “Jeff, I think you’ve been spoofed.” Gracious in humiliation, Jeff smiled and walked back down to his seat, noting that the entire congregation was staring at him, with the exception of three young men who had buried their faces in their hands and seemed to be crying.