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How I Got My NES


Operation Santa


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Don't mess
with the bull.


Bein' bad in the neighborhood                      

I was a pretty good kid. Too good for my own good sometimes. But I did get into some trouble here and there. Let me tell you about some of those times.

When I was just getting out into the world for real, you could do this trick with phones: Dial 552, then the last four digits of the phone's number. Click the hook rapidly until you hear a high-pitched even tone, instead of a dial tone. Then hang up the phone, and it will ring a few seconds later.

ust dial down the center

This was used by phone company employees to test phones. Just let a kid find out about a simple, annoying trick like that. We did this at every payphone we could find. What we would do is hang up and go hide around the corner. The phone would ring. Sometimes people would answer it. Ha ha, there's nobody on the line. I swear to you, this was very funny at the time.

One time I tried it at home. Oh boy, never again. My mother answered. Now, when you answer the phone, the tone doesn't stop. It's still there. It never ends, unless you rapidly click the hook a bunch of times. If it was still going, and you hung up on it, the phone would ring again. My mother kept answering it. She started to get pretty mad. But it kept going. Soon she was yelling things like, "Who is this?!" and "Stop calling!" I secretly picked up the extension upstairs and made it stop.

I never told on myself

The four inch superball
Have you ever had a giant bouncy ball? It really was four times as awesome as a one inch bouncy ball. Mine was clear blue with sparkles inside. There's something about new toys...when you get one, you want it with you at all times. I took it to school the day after I got it. It was immediately confiscated. At the end of the last day of school, the teacher took it out of her desk and gave it back to me. That was nice of her. Not as nice as if she just let me keep the damn thing in the first place, but I didn't expect I would ever see it again at all. So having it returned greatly added to the joy of the last day of school. I walked outside and threw that ball down on the sidewalk, just as hard as I could. It bounced high up into the air, hung there beautifully, and then it came down, down, down...onto the roof of the school.

It's probably still there.

Odorous Business
As a kid, one of my first experiences of autonomy was walking around town by myself. I could buy my own comic books and candy bars. But what was really exciting was the novelty store. Wind-up teeth, magic tricks, parachute men, little firecrackers, squirt guns. Giant erasers "for BIG mistakes" and other goofy gags, an "adult" section that I dared not look at, and bin after bin after bin filled with noisemakers, optical illusions, plastic bugs, rubber critters, and practical jokes. One trip to this wonderland had me bringing home a can of "Instant Smelly Sh*t". I didn't have a specific plan for it, but I figured something like this would definitely come in handy someday. Into my closet it went. A few months later, a friend came for a sleepover. After dinner, we went to my room. With grand conspiracy, I brought out the can. Tonight we would deploy it! We snuck into my little brother's room and dispensed a couple of thumb-sized squirts of this brown foam onto the floor behind his bed. 100% as advertised. They smelled real bad. I mean stink!  And it reached our nostrils with serious speed. We hightailed it back to my room. My mother walked down the hall, where the smell pervaded. She went into my brother's room and called him upstairs. "What is that smell?!" she demanded. He didn't know. Somebody found the fake turds. Somebody else said maybe the cat did it.

This can does not lie.

Mom was very upset. I can't believe I tortured her so much. It was unintentional, honest! She wasn't supposed to be the one to discover it. ...I'm not sure what I expected with the phone trick.  Of course, I never admitted that one, either. Retro-Daze, I give to you my deepest, darkest secrets.

My brother didn't have the amount of freedom that I did, since he was younger. And when I wasn't sneaking into his room with sh*t-in-a-can, we actually got along fairly well (sometimes). He understood the magic of the novelty store, and asked me to get him some kind of toy. I thought of bumping up the price, you know, to make it worth my while. But then, I saw a greater opportunity. He was in grade school, where there were no older kids like me. He wanted these things. Surely his friends would, too. We set to making a short list of items. Other kids would sign up for what they wanted. He would bring home the order sheet, and I would go to the store and fulfill it. He would bring the items to school the next day, and sell them at a 100% markup. We would be rich!

Is this what heaven is like?  Pumpkin Moon, Oak Park, IL

Whoopee cushions were our biggest seller by far. That hilarious noise was a real attention-getter, I guess. Thus began an epidemic of fart sounds throughout the school! I'm really sorry I couldn't be there to see such joy and laughter that must have occurred. But ten kids got hauled in to the principal's office. One of them was my brother, and one was the dirty rat that snitched on him. I was the pranks and gags kingpin for about a week, all told.

NOTE: I am not saying it's not still the funniest thing in thFFFFAAAAAARRRRRRRT!

A punishment was handed down and parents were called. For once, Mom actually approved of the mischief. She thought it was a good thing, that my brother and I  were not only figuring out creative ways to make some pocket money, but working together instead of bickering. The school's position certainly makes sense in hindsight, but she did not like that principal to begin with, and this became another tick on the checklist of reasons.

Being a kid is rough. You find yourself encountering new problems all the time. Like getting grounded for lying, and the bad thing you lied about. Or dealing with a mean kid or a nasty teacher. Or meat loaf for dinner. But you don't know then that the new problems never stop coming, no matter how good you are or how hard you try. Kids have hard homework or not enough time to play.  Grown-ups have that too, plus repairs or operations--or just daily life--with all the attendant bills, and so on. Sometimes, I think back to being a kid. Adult freedom is great, but it sure was nice when my biggest worry was getting caught with stink bombs.

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AceNThaHole Posted on Feb 26, 2013 at 08:28 PM

I wish I could have thought to start a business like that in school!

OldSchool80s Posted on Feb 26, 2013 at 03:41 PM

Fun post. Made me laugh a couple times and I could relate with a couple of the mischievous deeds as well. Thanks for sharing.

Vaporman87 Posted on Feb 25, 2013 at 09:29 PM

If you ever do find it, I will personally pay for a beautiful display case for it... IF you get it on video! ;)

shakin steak Posted on Feb 25, 2013 at 09:28 PM

You're welcome!

As for the mission...I would if I still lived in the area and could get there with a ladder one summer day. Sorry to disappoint. :)

raptor Posted on Feb 25, 2013 at 09:12 PM

You sir are a criminal. But seriously, I thought it was funny when you talked about the phone number trick. It reminded me of all the times my buds and I pranked a pay phone near a corner in town where all the losers would hang out on Friday nights. We would call it up and when one of them would answer we would light into them with crazy crap.

Vaporman87 Posted on Feb 25, 2013 at 05:46 PM

Such a fun read!

I could fill up an article of my own with my various "mostly legal" hijinks.

I was not a bad kid either, but we did some things now and then that were probably not nice. :)

I think you should make it your mission to get on top of your old school house and see if you can find that ball. THAT would be something I would want video of. Kind of like when Geraldo opened Al Capone's safe.

DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! C'mon everyone... in unison!

Thanks for this shakin!

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