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Thursday, 15 June

If I remember right, it started when the girls showed up at school armed with water pistols filled with cheap perfume.

What it became was a terrible prank war. In high school, naturally guys and gals worked out sexual tension with all sorts of strategies, and ours was no different. (Well, it's different than today, where guys and gals and guys and guys and gals and gals use a different strategy to work through sexual tension: evidently, they have sex. BUT NOT SO IN IDAHO BACK IN 1986! NO WAY! Except for the pregnant chicks. I'm reasonably sure they had sex.)

Anyway, there were three of us guys who found ourselves pitted, for some reason, against three girls who apparently had nothing better to do than to engage us in weak flirty banter in class and so on, and for some reason, one day they escalated affairs by showing up with the aforementioned water pistols filled with "Ralph Lauren's Swamp Rot" or "Ready For The World Presents Eau Sheila" or some such hideous cheap perfume, which they doused us with, causing us to wander the school emitting an unholy funk. This obviously could not go unchallenged. And so we found ourselves embroiled in a prank war.

We retaliated pretty lamely at first. One quirk of our ramshackle high school was the utter permeability of nearly any school locker door. (All it took was a pen cap.) Which is how I rather easily rigged a giant paper-bag black pepper bomb to go off in A.'s locker once she opened the door. It is one of the few things I've ever set my hand to that actually worked, and it had admirably long reach: for months after the thing dumped roughly a quart of ground black pepper into her locker, she would go to class, open her textbook, and then have to blow the pepper out of it, which inevitably caused several nearby schoolmates into fits of ENT-related misery.

A couple days later, I opened my own locker and discovered the counter-response: a startling cascade of dozens and dozens of tampons fell out and whispered around my feet. My biology teacher happened to be in the hall. "Skot!" he bellowed. "What's wrong with you!?" What an asshole. Yes, I'm a crazed collector of generic tampons! I had no good answer for him and stared wordlessly at the snowdrift of tampons around my ankles as passing schoolmates sniggered at me. That had to cost a bunch, I thought at the time, but as I learned later, the girls had sensibly destroyed the tampon dispensers in the girls' bathroom and simply appropriated the cotton loot.

Things escalated from there. E., who worked part-time helping out the school janitor, laid his hands on some spare urinal cakes, beat them into crumbs with a hammer, and then, once again helping himself into the girls' lockers, filled their jacket pockets with the noxious stuff. They smelled like . . . I have no analogy. Does anything else smell like that? They smelled like urinal cakes. A., at least, didn't notice much, as her sinus passages were still under black pepper assault every time she opened a textbook, but the others look pretty miserable.

Their response to that was, I'm sad to say, pretty lame: they TP'ed our cars. I couldn't help but notice that the toilet paper that wrapped my '75 Chevy Monza actually improved its appearance, as it served to mask the scabrous softtop that was slowly rotting away (occasionally, it would be peeled off in fibrous sheets by vengeful drunks who hated me). We took this lame assault as evidence that we were winning. Toilet papering our horrible cars? Please.

T. was the guy on our team who, realizing that the fight was going out of the girls, sort of went nuts. First, he took a tub of Vaseline and liberally applied the stuff to the girls' windshield wipers. This was fine as long as it didn't rain, which lasted about two days. Then, when it did, the girls turned on the wipers and . . . SMEAR, SMEAR, SMEAR. It was like their cars instantly grew cataracts, and of course the stuff doesn't come off too easily. Hilarious! It's surprising now that one of those startled girls didn't promptly drive into an oncoming truck.

The girls' efforts continued to flag, probably because they were basically sensible girs, and not irritating, weird little awful boys who didn't know when to quit and who lacked all sense of proportion. T. was also responsible for the next salvo, the provocation for which, if it even existed, I don't remember at all. Besides, it wasn't even a prank: it was just raw torment and sabotage. He simply took a few moments at lunch one horribly rainy day to remove the distributor caps to all the girls' cars. We watched in muted glee from a hiding place as we watched our victims hopelessly crank their starters. But it was, really, pretty boring. We knew we were near the end, and it wasn't even a prank: it wasn't clever, it wasn't diabolical, it wasn't anything. T. just broke their cars. Whoopee!

I guess it won't be any sort of surprise that we never had sex with these girls, much less even make out with any of them. The whole thing just kind of died away. Which isn't that surprising. I don't know a lot of women who like to start the "How we met" story with something like, "I'll never forget the day he stole my distributor cap." And then the guy says, "When I close my eyes, I can still smell the urinal cakes."