Impractical Jokes

by Steven Smith

posted 05.20.04

While it’s true that revenge is a dish best served cold, does that dish necessarily have to be fast food? Rushing to the point lacks nuance and artistic flair. If you really want your wrath to have a lasting effect, it's best to strike back on a micro scale. Getting even is far more satisfying when doled out in seven courses of subtlety and contempt.


Video clerk who rolled her eyes when you approached the counter with copies of ‘Uptown Girls’, ‘Legally Blonde 2’ and ‘Bend It Like Beckham’.

Cultivate a diverse and authoritative taste for foreign films. Take to wearing black-rimmed glasses, a wardrobe comprised entirely of denim and the color black to the store, being careful to refer to movies as “cinema”. When paying for your rentals of Krzysztof Kieslowski's ‘Three Colors Trilogy’, lay your copy of the new Godard biography on the counter as you scrounge through your wallet for cash. Be sure to leave the book there until the clerk in question notices it. Spend all your free time at Film Forum screenings and when you bump into the clerk, claim that you’ve been coming there “for ages”. Meet with the clerk in cramped cafes to discuss films and chain smoke. When the clerk asks you to pick a favorite for the “Recommendations Rack”, gush at great length about what an honor it is to be asked and then suggest ‘Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot’.


Roommates whose lack of respect, incessant cackling outside your bedroom door and sheer stupidity have driven you to the brink.

Maintain a cordial façade. Continue cleaning the apartment, washing their dirty dishes and failing to confront them about the scratches on the DVDs they borrowed from you. When they wake you in the middle of the night, laughing at the top of their lungs at the antics of Dharma and Greg, avoid a confrontation in favor of jamming your fingers in your ears and humming until, hours later, you fall asleep on your tear-stained pillow. Your nice guy veneer will blind them to the fact that you’ve been rounding down your share of the utilities to the nearest cent, shortchanging them some 6 or 7 cents over the course of the year.


One-legged homeless fellow on the corner of your block who smiled and waved the other day while he urinated on a tree.

Purchase that rickety yet sturdy wheelchair that you saw at the Salvation Army last week. Wheel the chair and a piping hot meal from the local diner up the block and initiate a conversation with the homeless fellow. Over the course of the next month, continue to bring him food to eat while casually mentioning the job training programs at a nearby shelter. Loan him a suit for his first job interview, taking care to pin up the left pant leg at the knee so as not to offend him, and congratulate him when he gets the job. Months later, over drinks, introduce him to a female acquaintance of yours and down the road, tearfully toast to the couple’s happiness at their wedding. When your one-legged friend asks you to be the godfather of his first child, accept with a heartfelt embrace, comfortable in the knowledge that you’ve shackled him with a life of corporate drudgery, familial distress and mounting financial woe in the form of outstanding phone bills and credit card debt.


Co-worker who shares your office and spends 90% of the day watching short films online, shifting the burden of work on the Callaghan account to you.

Arrive at work an hour early and stay two hours late without being compensated, just to assure that all deadlines are met. During meetings with your superiors, insist on fielding all questions b’c your co-worker has a hard time “distilling his innovative approach into terms that regular folks like us can understand”. Fail to pipe up when praise and bonuses are lauded on co-worker in lieu of you, knowing full well that all of the corner offices, company cars and personal masseuses in the world can’t compete with the satisfaction of a job well done.


Mailman who flippantly pointed out your lack of “letters or postcards from friends, just these issues of Wired and Popular Science” in front of the attractive neighbor that you’ve been slowly wooing for the past five months.

Fuck his wife.

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