Fool Your Friends! Childhood Fun With Gags and Magic Tricks

When I was a kid there was a store in town, called House of Toys.  It’s long-gone.  But it was a big toy store, needless to say, with a HUGE selection of model cars and such.  Does anyone still build models?  Somehow I doubt it.

In any case, near the cash register was always a rotating rack filled with “magic tricks” and “gags.”  On top was a cardboard sign that said ‘Fool Your Friends!’  It was all sorts of stuff made by a company called Adams, and I was perpetually intrigued.

Included in this collection would always be trick playing cards, double-headed quarters, fake ice cubes with flies inside, soap that turned your skin black, fake barf, fake dog shit, fake bugs, hand buzzers, loaded dice, candles that would re-light themselves, mustard bottles with a yellow string that came shooting out, whoopee cushions, rubber chocolate, Chinese handcuffs, cans of mixed nuts with leaping “snakes” inside, etc.

And even though I perused this rack a million times, and the lineup rarely changed, I felt compelled to make a beeline to it whenever I was in the store.  Because it was all so freaking cool.

However… I can’t really remember buying too much of it.  I looked at it all the time, but didn’t actually make a lot of purchases.

I do recall buying a pen filled with “invisible ink.”  You’d write a message on a piece of paper, and nobody could see it.  Until you waved a lit match underneath, that is…  Then the super-secret message would be revealed.  I seem to remember it running out of ink around Day Two.  And my brother and I nearly burning down the house.

I also had a small booklet from that rack, filled with so-called gags.  It was illustrated with artwork that surely pre-dated World War II, and the language was peppered with phrases from when my grandparents were kids, or thereabouts.

I remember pulling one of the gags, and my parents getting really pissed about it.  It was in a restaurant, probably Shoney’s.  I took a glass of water, held the menu tight to the rim, and turned it over.  I then returned it to the table, and yanked out the menu. So, there was a glass full of water, upside-down in the middle of the table.  My mom and dad didn’t see the humor in it, whisper-yelled for five minutes, and apologized to the waitress about their retarded son, or whatever.

And I remember my brother having a bottle of Morning Breeze, which was a super-powerful fart smelling substance, housed inside a fake perfume bottle.  We’d walk around stores splashing a little on the floor, and watching the comedy take hold.  Freaking hilarious.  Man, that stuff smelled horrible…  Like you were trapped inside a phone booth with a giant egg salad fart.

But the best was the cigarette loads.  Both my parents smoked in those days, and we’d put these little white slivers into their cigs, and just wait.  I’m surprised they didn’t beat the shit out of us, because when the explosions went off they were LOUD.  And we did it all the time, yet they didn’t get too mad at us.

Until they’d had enough…

One day we were in Shoney’s (again), and my mom lit up a cigarette after dinner.  Immediately the end blew off, and every head in the restaurant turned our way.  My parents had officially run out of patience, probably because of the embarrassment factor, and told us we’d better knock it off.  And the tone of the message was clear:  we’re serious as a cancer heart attack.  Next time you’re gonna regret it, dumbasses.

We promised we’d stop, and my mother pinched off the damaged part of her cig (heh), and fired it up again.  And within ten seconds: KAPOW!  It went off a second time.  We’d double-loaded the thing!  And the second one was a doozy.  It sounded like a firecracker, and my Mom was just sitting there with a smoldering filter in her mouth, and little bits of paper and tobacco in her hair, and all over the table.

I almost caused myself to have a seizure trying not to laugh.  There was a tense second or two, and my dad finally cracked up.  The place had gone completely quiet, and every single person in that restaurant was looking at us.  And my mother was NOT amused. But my dad was laughing, and so were we.  However, we never used the cigarette loads again.  It’s a wonder we made it home alive.

Do you have any experience with these kinds of “gags?”  From the Adams rack, or anything similar…  If so, please tell us about it.  Use the comments link below.

And I’ll see you guys again tomorrow.

Have a great day!

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So, who is this guy?

Thanks for stopping by! My name is Jeff Kay, I was born while JFK was president, and it's all very embarrassing and corny. Today I'm a suburban husband and father, who is sometimes accused of being a bit tightly-wound. The West Virginia Surf Report! is my creative outlet, and insurance policy against completely losing my shit. I hope you'll stick around and participate in the lively community of geniuses and curmudgeons who hang out here every day. I love a full 87% of them! And while you're at it, please follow me at Twitter and Facebook.

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