I'll Get You For This!
Ron Karpinski ©2002
Captain Mel Hall of the United States Army, at only five-feet-five inches tall, often felt the brunt of "short" jokes; but he had a great sense of humor and took it all in stride, laughing along with everyone else. Oh, and one more thing, he gave as good as he got.
Sometimes, the pranks bordered on the periphery of poor taste. My most recent gag might have even gone a tad over the line, but an evil voice kept whispering to do it, that this latest caper would establish me as the premier jokester in the land.
* * * * *
One still morning in the spring of 1986, I awoke at 4:30 A.M. and drove in the dark to Fort McPherson on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia. In the early dawn, long before anyone else had entered the building, I carefully unscrewed the legs from Mel Hall's government-issue gray metal desk and lowered it to the floor. Then I spun his swivel chair all the way down to its lowest position and placed it alongside.
Squatting amid the other pieces of furniture in the room, Hall's desk now looked just like the miniature one occupied by Sergeant Snorkel's dog, Otto, in the comic strip "Beatle Bailey." Satisfied with my handiwork, I crept away to my own office and waited.
As usual, Hall arrived at work bright and cheery around 6:30 A.M. and unlocked the door to his office. When his gaze fell upon the desk designed for a dwarf, he howled with delight. Whatever the endeavor, serious business or idle mischief, Mel Hall appreciated good work.
Hall laughed so hard, tears ran down his cheeks. He shook his head and marveled at the lengths to which some people would go in order to put one over on him; but, make no mistake, he knew exactly where to find the culprit.
A few minutes later, a shrill voice pierced the void just outside my open window. "Karpinski, I'll get you for this! You won't know when or where to expect it, but I'll get you back, if it's the last thing I ever do!"
* * * * *
Months passed. Spring turned to summer, and soon the leaves began to fall. With Halloween just around the corner, my roommate, Bill, decided that the two of us should host a costume party at our apartment in Marietta. "It'll be a great way to meet single women," he said.
"You invite all the good-looking women you know," he suggested, "and I'll do the same. We'll tell them all to bring a couple of friends each; and everybody has to wear a costume, the skimpier the better, or the doorman won't admit them."
Bill was on a roll now. "We can raffle off prizes and give awards for the best outfits. That ought to attract a good crowd."
It all sounded fine to me. Between the two of us, we sent out fifty invitations and arranged for food and drinks.
One of my invitations went to the lovely Ms. Suzette Lewis of Cartersville, Georgia. Suzette stood a statuesque five-foot-eight inches tall with soft wavy brunette hair and the biggest brown eyes in the universe. Hopefully my Merlin the Magician costume would impress her enough that she might finally consent to a date.
* * * * *
Several weeks later, the big day arrived, and Bill and I stood in the corner of our living room, surveying the crowd. It quickly became apparent that choosing the best costume would be difficult, as everyone had put a lot of effort and imagination into their attire. In fact, many of the guests were so well camouflaged that we had no idea who they were.
Suddenly, Bill nudged me in the ribs. "Hey, look over there. See that one dressed up like Miss Piggy? What did you invite her for? That's the ugliest woman I've ever seen."
"I didn't invite her! I thought you did."
"Are you kidding?" Bill said. "I don't know anyone that ugly. Heck, I don't even know anyone who knows anyone that ugly."
"Do you recognize either of the two women she's with?" I asked.
"Nope. Never seen any of them before in my life," he answered. "Maybe they were just passing by and smelled the food . . . and walked in the front door. I hope no one takes any photographs tonight, or our reputations could be ruined."
Miss Piggy did, indeed, lack any beauty. Cursed with the figure of a fire hydrant, she wore a loose-fitting lime green satin dinner dress with plunging neckline. A rose colored feather boa wrapped once around the neck and draped across her ample bust. White gloves extended beyond the elbow, perhaps to conceal tattoos. Her massive upper arms and thick shoulders could easily have belonged to a bouncer at a nightclub.
An unruly mop of red hair swept up the back side of her head, held in place by a lavender colored ornamental comb. Perched atop this helter-skelter hairdo, a pair of pointed pink sow's ears tilted east and west. A broad snout dominated the center of her face. Heavy blue mascara, ruby red lipstick, purple loop earrings, and a thick coat of rouge completed the grotesque caricature.
Hovering near the buffet line, Miss Piggy had not yet caused any disturbance among the guests; but, after a while, she began to fidget. Standing no more then twenty feet from Bill and me, she giggled and threw a furtive glance our way.
Then, unexpectedly, she turned and strode directly toward us. Bill whispered under his breath, "Buddy, you know I would go to war with you anywhere in the world, but I'm getting the heck out of here." Having said that, he left.
Alone now, in the middle of the room, I searched frantically for Suzette. Please, lord, do not let Suzette witness this. Do not let her see me in the company of this . . . thing.
Miss Piggy closed to within three feet and held her arms out in the traditional invitation to dance. The thought of embracing this bizarre creature made my flesh crawl. What a dilemma! To be a gracious host and a gentleman -- or to run like the wind?
A split second later, Miss Piggy took matters into her own hands. In one swift motion, she lunged forward and grabbed my neck, pulling me close. Then, assuming the lead, she pushed us halfway around the dance floor in a rough imitation of a waltz.
Straining to break free, I glanced away. A crowd had formed. All conversation had ceased. Every set of eyes in the house were now fixed firmly on the twirling twosome.
No amount of logic could explain what happened next. Perhaps the male genetic code is simply flawed beyond hope. The fact of the matter is, the average American man thinks with his libido -- and not with his brain -- in certain situations.
Our mad romp around the room ended where it began, and Miss Piggy released her grip. As she stepped back to catch her breath, her feather boa fell to one side, revealing a rather large portion of exposed skin. Forgive me, but yours truly could not control himself . . . could not help but gawk at the naked cleavage less than two feet away.
What a shock. The woman had hair on her chest! Oh, I had known several women over the years who refused to shave their legs in winter and others who suffered from various forms of unwanted body fluff, usually just a little dark fuzz on the upper lip or a few chin bristles; but never had I met a woman endowed with such a thicket of brush where Nature had intended a soft supple valley of silky smooth flesh.
Don't they have cream that removes undesirable hair in cases like that? Honestly, how could any woman wear such a revealing gown and not make the slightest effort to enhance the appearance of her bare bosom for the benefit of the opposite sex?
Reluctantly, I snuck another peek, just to make sure that my eyes had not deceived me. Yup, still there, unsightly tufts of coarse black hair spreading like kudzu across the entire upper torso. Good gracious, the poor woman!
My attitude soften. I stopped struggling and tried to make the best of the situation, determined to finish the dance with as much dignity as possible, for poor Miss Piggy's sake as well as my own. Imagine attempting to live a normal life, afflicted with such a horrible physical abnormality!
During my career, the army had sent me to a number of sensitivity seminars where instructors had impressed the need for tolerance in this complicated modern world. "Accepting others just as they are is the first step toward mutual understanding," they had emphasized. With this thought in mind, I gave Miss Piggy a reassuring smile.
Her face glowed with happiness. For my part, it felt good to bring a little pleasure into this unfortunate creature's miserable existence; but, wait . . . those eyes, those beady dark blue eyes. Something about Miss Piggy's eyes looked oddly familiar.
Think! Where had I seen those eyes before? A hundred faces from a dozen places flashed through my mind. Ten or fifteen seconds passed.
Exploring beyond the hideous nose and past the smeared rouge and garish mascara, the truth slowly unveiled itself. My worst nightmare had come true. It's you!!
The room spun in a dizzying kaleidoscope of changing shapes and colors. Flash bulbs popped, and laughter echoed from every corner. Suzette had vanished.
Miss Piggy stepped back and bowed from the waist. "Captain Mel Hall, United States Army," he announced, "at your service."
* * * * *
"Hall, I'll get you for this! I will track you down to the ends of the earth, and I will get you back, if it's the last thing I ever do!"