College is the time for practical jokes, right? During my freshman year at BYU (a really long time ago) my roommates and some of the guys from our Y-Group honed our practical joking skills. We were really good. We put Kool aid on their towels one Wednesday night (the only time girls were allowed in the upper levels of DT). They put alum on the frosted animals cookies that we were known to consume by the pound. We even sent one poor fellow hiking up to the Y, at dawn, in the rain to meet his mysterious and illusive admirer. Obviously, she wasn't there. Even if she had existed, would she really have hiked to the Y by herself in the rain? I don't think so. But the rain provided a good excuse and the guy didn't figure out that he had been pranked.
That fall semester my roommates and friends were making plans for Thanksgiving. Some were headed home to California. Others were spending the holiday with grandparents and relatives in Utah. One of my roommates was from Oklahoma. She wasn't going home for Thanksgiving so I invited her to spend the holiday with my family who lived just a few hours away from Provo.
One of the guys from our Y Group (the gullible, love-struck, hiker. I'll call him Dean*) was from the South East and he wasn't able to go home. He was in our apartment one afternoon in early November whining about his misfortune. Dean was the only guy from our group that didn't have plans for the holiday and he wasn't looking forward to eating Thanksgiving dinner in the Morris Center Cafeteria by himself. Ignoring the dangers of bringing home a guy that I wasn't even remotely interested in, I took pity on the poor, pathetic soul and invited him to join my roommate and me for Thanksgiving with my family. Dean quickly accepted. Since my grandparents were picking me, my cousin and roommate up from Provo and driving us home, I didn't have room for this guy in the car so I gave him a list of people I knew from my home town and let him find his own ride.
But I warned him that my family was a little strange and before he made up his mind to spend Thanksgiving with us, he should know that my family had this crazy tradition dating back sixty some years. During the Great Depression, they had gathered together all the food to have a big, fantastic celebration on Thanksgiving Day but then they had to go hungry for several days afterward. In remembrance of all our ancestors had suffered during the lean times and to be thankful for what we now had in abundance, my family fasted for the three days following our giant Thanksgiving feast. I was strangely convincing as I told this tall tale. (I think my dad and brothers would in reality pass out cold if they had to go without food for more than one Fast Sunday a month.) Dean was horrified but claimed that he still wanted to join my family for the holiday.
Dean found a ride to my hometown that actually left Provo several hours earlier than I did and Dean arrived at my home and met my family before I got there. By the time my roommate and I got home, my mom, who is too nice and honest, had already informed Dean that my family was not seriously insane and that there would be plenty of food to eat every day. The suitcase of food that Dean brought along would not be necessary.
Not only that, my youngest (darling) sister was just a kid and a notorious tattle tale. She told him all about the joke we had played on him with the notes from the secret admirer and the hike to the Y. Until that moment, he had assumed that the secret admirer was just too shy to reveal herself--yet. In fact, since he had told none of us about the hike on that wet morning or the notes, none of us should have even known about it. I certainly shouldn't have been including the (I thought funny) details in my letters home. (I really was a freshman a long time ago. Long distance calls were still expensive; cell phones were extremely rare and very large and the internet was just an idea. So yes, I wrote letters. Real ones. On paper. Put a stamp on the envelope and sent it in the mailbox. Archaic.)
And so the joke was on me. I stopped writing detailed letters to my family of the fun times at college. We didn't play nearly as many practical jokes on each other, especially now that Gullible Dean was on to us. And until I met Utah Dad a few years later, I NEVER took another guy (friend or beau) home to meet my family.
*Not his real name.