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My long-time friend Mike and I, who have known each other since second grade, had had a serious falling out in sixth grade. Since we were in the same gifted program from elementary school through high school, we were still always around each other, just not speaking. Finally, the ice began to thaw in 11th grade. Thanks to a feud of practical jokes, we renewed our friendship and he was my Best Man when I get married 2001. The Feud proceeded thusly:

Round One

Around school election time, a sign appears in our chemistry class saying, "Erik Fitzpatrick for Commissioner of Asylums: Let's put the lunatic where he belongs."

Feeling that retaliation in kind if definitely in order, I sign up Mike, a lifelong Democrat, for the Young Republicans.

Round Two

I am visited by Jehovah's Witnesses. Every Saturday for over a month. Turns out he sent them a letter reading, "I was once an atheist but would like to repent my sinful ways. Please, help me." Followed by my name and address.

Mike is visited in the night by a mob of angry cucumbers, one of which holds a picket sign reading, "We've come for you Mike." About 15 cucumbers were held in place with nails on his lawn. So I was feeling a bit surreal.

Round Three

By now it is summer. While away on a camping trip, my mother receives a report card showing mostly Ds, Fs, and a B or two for realism. It should be understood that while I was never a straight-A student, my grades tended to hover around B with the occasional A and C. My mother was furious. I was confused, not sure at first whether this was him or a school mistake or what. What made it interesting was that the classes in which the report card showed Bs were actually classes in which I had been slacking and therefore expecting Cs or worse. Eventually, it came out that he had photocopied a real report card, edited it on his computer, had his mother perforate the edges with a sewing machine, and, to top it off, told my mother it was coming and got her in on it.

Escalation was inevitable.

While he was away on vacation with his family, I laid my plans. One day, I drove by his house, knocked on his door, acted for anyone watching like I didn't know they were away, and finally walked over and asked a neighbor if he knew where the Luxtons might be; I explained that I was visiting from out of town and wanted to see my old buddy. He said they were on vacation and should be back on such-and-such date, about two weeks away. I acted sad that I wouldn't be around then, thanked him, and drove away, cackling with glee.

In the next few days, I went downtown to look for an old abandoned building, one with some sort of official city notice on the door. After not too much searching, I found one, took the notice, and got to work. I covered up all the text of the notice with a sheet of white paper; running this through a photocopier, I had a nice stack of City of Long Beach letterhead stationary. On my computer I composed a replacement text, changing little but the address of the building and the title of the notice, giving it the more dramatic sounding title, NOTICE OF CONDEMNATION. This was then printed on my city letterhead and all appropriate fields were signed in my mother's and stepfather's hand (Mike would recognize mine instantly).

The night before the Luxtons' anticipated return, my friend, my then-girlfriend, and I collected my rather impressive collection of stolen road cones, saw-horses, and caution tape and headed over to the Luxton residence around 3 AM. I taped the NOTICE OF CONDEMNATION to the door and we quickly set up a perimeter of sawhorses and caution tape around the house, surrounding their front yard and extending into the street a couple of feet. Thinking it was a nice looking job, we hopped back in the van and headed home.

Home where I waited the entire next day for Mike's fake-angry phone call, which never came. Nor did it come the next day. On the third day, at last, the call came. Turned out they were actually still on vacation at Mike's grandmother's house, 300 miles away! Apparently, they had received a phone call that morning from their Long Beach neighbor who informed them that, um, their house appeared to have been condemned. Since I had left all the appropriate names and phone numbers on the notice, Mike's parents spent a frantic half hour calling confused Long Beach city officials who had no idea what they were talking about. At some point I guess it dawned on Mike what was going on and he called me in less than good humor. I agreed to take everything down the next afternoon and apologized to his folks when they got home.

That was the last shot. I guess he figured any further escalation would be dangerous and any declination would seem silly. But it was fun while it lasted.

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