What’s your state flower, my blog friend Karen asked her Word Shark followers this week.
That question brought to mind one of my best practical jokes (and in my humble opinion, I’ve succeeded in many).
I played this prank on my brother, back when we were both still paying off college loans, each of us newly married and living in different states. Over the past year, we had just begun to renew our slightly overlooked brother/sister status, which had faded when we went our separate ways during college, grad school, and beyond.
I don’t remember what got into me that late summer evening. I hadn’t heard from my brother in a while, and must have wanted his attention.
I placed some pebbles in my mouth and called his phone (this was before cell phones and caller ID).
“I’m trying to reach Mr. Wight,” I announced in a high-pitched indistinguishable voice. “Mr. Wight, from Baltimore, Maryland.”
“Yes,” my brother answered hesitantly.
“I’m calling from station 1540 WNBR, and your name and number have reached us via the radio lottery.” (I made this all up as I spoke, but fortunately my brother fell for it – hook, line, and sinker.)
“If you can answer our question-of-the night, you will win one hundred dollars. Do you understand? You are on the air now, my fellow, and the right answer to our question will net you ONE HUNDRED dollars!”
“Are you ready for the contest, Mr. Wight?” I held my breath, afraid that he was on to me, but no, his voice raised an octave as he answered,
“Yes, I’m ready! What’s the question?”
Oh. Shoot. I hadn’t figured I’d make it to this part of the joke. Quick, what should I ask?
“What, dear sir, is Maryland’s State Flower?”
Gasps on the other line.
“Shit,” my bro then said indelicately.
“You may not use that word on the air,” I adlibbed, the pebbles beginning to get stuck between the roof of my mouth and my tongue.
“Oh, DAMN, wait, wait. State flower, state flower,” bro said eloquently.
“You only have 10 more seconds, Mr. Wight. 9 8 7 …”
“The Easter Lily!” my brother spat out.
WHAT? The Easter Lily? That was the best he could come up with? Actually, I had no idea what the Maryland state flower was.
“You are absolutely correct!” I announced in as excited a voice as I could muster without losing pebbles. “You have won ONE HUNDRED dollars. Congratulations!”
“Damn! Good gosh darn damn,” my happy brother exclaimed. He probably said more, but I was close to swallowing a rock, so I quickly hung up.
I ran to my old Monopoly set, the one I used to play with for hours a decade earlier, and I found a one hundred bill in play money, which I placed in an envelope, no return address, and stamped. The next morning, I mailed the joke.
Except, at 10 that night, my brother called me, miffed, moaning, and mad.
“After having no luck finding station 1540 WNBR,” he grumbled, “I called my college buddy, the one who’s lived in Maryland his entire life.”
“Oh?” I said, innocently.
“Maryland’s state flower is the Black…Eyed…Susan!!!”
Needless to say, my brother did not find my joke practical nor funny.
However, neither of us have ever forgotten the name of the Maryland state flower.
I call that a “practical” joke.
Now, do you know the name of your state flower?