By Joe Hobby
I was talking to a friend‘s daughter at a high school football game. When I asked her if they had any special Homecoming activities on tap after the final whistle blew, she said sweetly, “We’re going to roll some yards. It’s a tradition.”
I smiled and nodded. Rolling yards was a regular part of my teen years too. I’m still quite immature, but I gave up rolling yards a while back. Besides, after my shoulder surgery, I just don’t have the arm strength anymore.
The interesting thing about rolling yards and other forms of relatively harmless teen-age mischief, is that it was usually reserved for people we liked. I read an article about the psychology behind pranks, and some learned people believe that their purpose is to socially connect and strengthen bonds with others. I can believe that. If someone rolls your yard, they’re interested enough in you to take the time, energy, and risk to one-up you. The more destructive forms of tomfoolery, such as putting cherry bombs in mailboxes, or grooving someone’s lawn, were saved for unpopular students and nasty teachers. And generally speaking, throwing eggs was considered an act of destruction, because we knew they could really mess up the paint job on a car.
Once, a group of us decided that rolling a popular girl’s yard would be an excellent way to spend a Friday night. Susan’s house had been TP’ed many times before, so we decided to make this one memorable. All of us split up and hit every public restroom within an 8-mile radius. Armed with almost a hundred rolls, we stealthily spent about a half hour throwing 2 ply paper in trees, shrubs, and over the house. The next day when I drove by to check our handiwork, I was stunned. Every inch of her property, including the roof, was covered in white. It looked like New England in February. The trees and lawn were so white that her neighbors went out and bought milk and bread. Fortunately, they didn’t try to clean up the mess by burning the toilet paper off the trees. I knew someone who did that and had to call the fire department when the TP set the dry leaves on a Bradford Pear ablaze.
I’m still amazed at how imaginative teenagers can be when playing pranks. My wife told me how some of her “friends” showed their fondness towards her by strewing thousands of soda bottle caps in her front yard. Very innovative. She had no idea where they came from, or how they got so many; she just knew that she and her brother spent the next day raking the up the mess.
Once our gang “borrowed” all 18 flags from a local golf course and planted them, once again, in Susan’s yard. That’s how much we liked her.
And now I’ve discovered that yard rolling is still alive and well. It gives me a warm feeling to know that an adolescent rite of passage has continued throughout the years. Not surprisingly, this generation has even added a few new twists, like spraying silly string on cars, strewing Fruit Loops all over the yard, and “forking”, which involves buying hundreds of plastic forks and sticking them in the ground throughout the homeowner’s property. Smearing Oreo cookies on car windows is also in vogue. While I appreciate the creative thinking, I found it a bit pricey. You could drop 25 bucks on two dozen cans of silly string and no telling how much on dozens of forks, Fruit Loops, and Oreos. Also, forking a yard seems like it would be time consuming, which would greatly increase your chances of getting caught. As usual, the gold standard still remains good ol’toilet paper. It’s cheap, effective, and quickly administered.
I’ve been told by authorities that rolling yards is illegal and the homeowners can have the perpetrators arrested. Thank goodness that Susan’s father knew we were just showing our affection for his daughter. I would’ve hated to be put in jail for that.
“Hey kid, what are you in for? Drugs, stealing, murder?
“No. It was assault with a two-ply weapon. And I’m a repeat offender.”
That’s the way I roll.