Imp of the Gimp

One wonders that the tithing-men and fathers of the town are not out to see what the trees mean by their high colors and exuberance of spirits, fearing that some mischief is brewing. – Henry David Thoreau, Journal Oct. 7, 1857

Mischief indeed!

October wouldn’t be what it is without a bit of mischief and impish behavior. Most of the year the trees remain their stout, stoic green yet this month they begin their impish display of changing colors, in a wild fall-fest to see who can outdo whom. And need I remind everyone that the end of this month brings the grandest of all impish behaviors? All Hallows Eve is the night for imps of all sizes to flex their feisty wits and trick us as they wont.

I confess to sometimes having an impish mind, delighting in the occasional barb or trick to make myself and others laugh. And while issues of late make things less than funny most of the time, there’s nothing like a well-placed tease or verbal torture to wring a smile out of a seemingly lifeless face. Like a good sneeze, grinning just feels so damn good. I don’t know why more people don’t try this holistic remedy to what ails ya, but I guess some people can’t let go of taking life too seriously. When that happens, you know that trouble is not far away.

As much as I revel in the Halloween spirit, I don’t have many tales of impish ways to share. Sure when I was a kid I had friends who did the usual poop-in-the-bag-on-a-porch, ring-and-run-like-hell antic, but I didn’t participate. Okay, so I did egg a few mailboxes in my day and yes I’ve toilet-paper-adorned a tree or two of some high school sweet thing (and once we tp’d the wrong house… oops!). And then there was the night we moved a neighborhood's For Sale signs from houses for sale, to those that were not for sale... thinking we’d create some serious mayhem for the next morning. But these are silly, semi-harmless pranks reborn, no doubt by each succeeding generation of bored teenagers.

Real impish behavior requires a stealthier approach and some twisted thinking to produce the desired results. There was the time in San Antonio when we came into the office on a Sunday and completely rearranged the office contents of a co-worker returning from vacation (his honeymoon, in fact). We precisely “mirrored” his furniture in every way, down to the pictures on the wall. The poor guy went around for days with a delightfully (to us) confused look on his face and constantly turning in the wrong direction, trying to find things in his office. On the third day he finally snapped to what we had done, and although he appreciated the attention, I’m not sure he ever forgave us.

Another time while sailing on Lake Travis with a friend, his Sunfish, and his amply endowed girlfriend, the imp made another appearance. The girlfriend liked to lie on her stomach on the front deck of the little sailboat and unsnap her top to get a better tan. I was at the tiller, and the imp made me elbow my friend, grin, then swung the rudder hard making the little sailboat come about quickly, rolling the surprised girl less-than-gracefully into the lake sans her top, which remained on the deck, perfectly spread out. Hey, when you’re a twenty-something and combine beer, sun, and idle minds, things happen.

There are more, I’m sure, but time has buried most impish acts deep in my psyche. I’m not sure whether an impish desire is a quiet rebellion against the norm or simply another example of a competitive drive to better someone, anyone, to feel superior. Being impish seems silly, but at least we, as a society, have seen fit to reserve one night a year to release the imp.

So beware… this gimp hopes to do something interesting this Halloween, even if the only porch or mailbox I can get to exists entirely in the virtual world. Trick… or treat?

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