For a period of 2 years, a fake exploding lighter gag brought almost unbelievable joy into my life. This toy looked like a real lighter but had a metal spring mechanism that would detonate a small cap when someone went to pick up the lighter. The spring mechanism in the lighter worked similar to a bear trap in that when disturbed, its metal springs would collapse and the cap would be set off, giving a small spark and a loud blast. The weight of the lighter, sitting on a table, held the spring until someone tried to pick it up and then, off it goes! I tried to get my friends with the exploding lighter every chance I got.
Over time, my close friends couldn’t be fooled anymore into picking up the lighter on their own. So when asked for a real lighter, I would give them the fake lighter by placing it in the palm of their hand. When they went to light up or turn the lighter over in their hand, KAPOW! On occasion, the exploding cap would even slightly burn the victim’s hand, adding greatly to the overall shock and humor value.
After a while, my friends became so accustomed and paranoid to me trying to get them with the fake lighter, I could no longer get them to take it. You could call this a form of social conditioning, their minds associated my face with an exploding lighter and their brain told them to be on the lookout. When that happened, I started loosely taping the spring mechanism to the side of the lighter so the spring wouldn’t go off unless jostled. This way, I could loft the lighter into the air towards anyone sitting on the couch and when they unsuspectingly reached out to catch it, they received a tiny explosion on impact. They had no choice but to either catch the lighter or have it explode when the toy hit their stomach or other body part (hopefully their face).
I used that damn lighter so much the glue holding the toy together deteriorated and the exploding mechanism eventually came loose from the fake lighter shell. Although saddened at first, I was able to turn this misfortune into an opportunity by attaching the exploding spring, with the help of some double-sided tape, to anything people are prone to pick up, like the T.V. remote control. Now friends that I could no longer get with the fake lighter, I was once again able to terrorize by sticking the exploding mechanism to their shoes or the telephone.
After that stint, I decided it was time for one last joke with this champion of a toy. I mailed the exploding mechanism, loaded with a cap, in a greeting card bound for my best friend. On the outside of the envelope I wrote, “Surprise Inside!” and “Bang.” He sat for 5 minutes trying to decide whether or not he should open that envelope and I’m glad he finally did. From what he tells me, the cap must have been especially potent. As soon as he took the card out of the envelope, the exploding mechanism snapped and a large spark shot out of the card singeing his fingers. He threw the card down, soiled his shorts and ran out of the room fearing a larger explosion. Tom said that he truly had the shit scared out of him. Please note that I pulled this joke before the mail was being so thoroughly screened for exploding objects. Recently friends have warned me this type of prank might be illegal.