Monday, October 17, 2011

The Ex-Lax-in-the-Brownies Prank

It helps if you picture a less-smiley
version of this guy.
The post I delivered on Friday jarred a few additional memories from my college years, so I think I’ll be sharing some of them in the near today.

The following tale involves a friend of mine whom I’ll refer to as Hurley, because if you were a fan of Lost and were able to flash back in time like many of the principals on that show, you’d instantly recognize the resemblances between my friend and the character portrayed by Jorge Garcia.

My Hurley was about five-foot-eight, 250 pounds or so (I never had the opportunity to weigh him), and usually wore his long wavy Cuban hair in a ponytail so thick that it seemed to defy gravity as it stuck straight out of his head.

Hurley was an area native who lived close enough to the university to be a commuter but, lacking car and driver's license (if I accurately recall), he lived down the hall from me during freshman year, then moved in with some guys from Brooklyn directly across from me.

Hurley was a friendly fellow but was also aggressive when it came to entering our rooms and eating our food. Rather than conduct an intervention with Hurley regarding his behavior, we decided to prank him.

The first step was finding the right food item. Spiking some item with hot sauce wouldn't work because the effects would be short-term, and we weren't looking to poison the guy, so we settled on creating a tray of brownies with the addition of Ex-Lax to complement the more common chocolate ingredients.

They don't advertise Ex-Lax like they used to, but if you grew up in the 1970s or 1980s and watched a lot of morning game shows, you likely viewed commercials for a number of products that seemed quite foreign if you were younger than 10:
  • "Feminine" products
  • Denture creams
  • Preparation H
  • Laxatives
These ads told you what you needed to know, if you needed to know, if you knew what they were talking about. Laxative ads never explicitly guaranteed that they'll help you take a decent shit, but they promised that you'd feel "regular" or otherwise have a better day that you were expecting.

As a young boy, all I could see in the commercials was some kind of adults-only chocolate that wasn't available at the stationery stores I frequented (not on the shelves with the Hershey bars and Razzles, at least), with the occasional option of using pills instead of the chocolate to achieve whatever ends (ha ha, ends) that Ex-Lax was promising. I can remember thinking, "Why would you choose pills over chocolate?"

In my house growing up, candy in the cupboards were about as common as a carton of dodo eggs, so I think my sweet-tooth radar focused on anything that looked remotely chocolate-like, regardless of its purpose. I was also a big fan of a weight-loss product that came in yummy-looking candy form, with a name that seemed clever at the time until it became confused with a similar-sounding name for an emerging disease.

The product: Ayds. Here's an old commercial. The jokes write themselves.

So anyway. We went to the Tops supermarket across the street and bought a package of Ex-Lax and the cheapest brownie mix we could find. We settled on some Duncan Hines mix that baked in the microwave in a plastic tray, a dessert that's probably been banned for the chemicals in the mix and the tray, which were probably the same.

We weren't sure how much Ex-Lax to add. Hurley liked to eat our food, but even he wasn't going to eat an entire tray of brownies in one sitting, so we added the whole bar. (And, dammit, even knowing that that chocolate bar was a laxative did not make it look any less delectable. I always wondered who the guy was who invented the thing. Imagine being at pastry school and deciding, "Rather than make elegant desserts for people, I'm gonna create delights to help them crap!")

We baked the brownies, which looked very good, and cut out (and discarded) one piece, so it didn't look so suspicious. (Plus, there's some unwritten rule about a dessert being fair game once someone's cut into it. Not that Hurley would have followed that etiquette.)

Sure enough, Hurley eventually strolled into our room — my roommate Eric and I made our room the location — and spotted the treat. "Oh, boy!" Hurley said sarcastically. "Thanks for the brownies."

"Oh yeah," Eric said, not looking up from a newspaper. "Help yourself."

Hurley removed a large slab from the tray and wandered off.

We learned from his roommate, who was aware of the prank, that Hurley soon announced he wasn't feeling very well, then suddenly had an urge to defecate, then burst into the bathroom, where he remained for a long while. We were worried that we might have given him too much of the Ex-Lax, but he soon emerged and complained about his troubled bowels. He blamed it all on some fare he scarfed down at Louie's Red Hots.

Incidentally, we never told him that we put Ex-Lax in his brownies, so he never really learned his lesson. He continued to eat our food, so I guess we didn't learn our lesson, either.


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    1. My ex-husband liked my brownies so while we were in the process of getting divorced, I included a special ingredient. He said they were the best brownies he's ever eaten, even better than the "non-special ingredient" ones. LOL.