Keaton’s birthday was last Saturday the 25th, which meant an opportunity to give him shit for the way he gives me shit about me getting excited when my birthday is coming up. He’s not big on birthdays, but, if you’re gonna have a Block for a best friend, then you’re gonna have a big deal made out of your birthday.
Last year, me, Dani and Miguel got everyone at the Volcano to sing a rousing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Keaton. We made sure to embarrass him some in the process, and the bartenders even invented a super gayass drink – the Penner Punch – in Keaton’s honor. It’s a shot comprised of vodka, cream of coconut and grenadine, and is nice and pink…the perfect color for Keaton lol. The weird thing is that Dani and Ron were trying to come up with something totally grossass, but people liked them. They still have them at the Volcano, in case you ever want to try one. Just don’t tell me I didn’t tell you I told you so when you think it’s totally disgustingass lol.
So this year I decided to prank him for his birthday. Big time. I ended up getting him a nice present…but he got a lot of shit to go with it. You learn a lot about practical jokes in baseball locker rooms, from dumb shit like spray glue in a dude’s jock to some of the pretty complicated pranks we pulled off in Hickory. I was always pretty good at them…but the one I pulled for Keaton’s birthday was one of my best.
The prank started out with something Keaton mentioned he’d like to have – a messenger bag that didn’t look like a purse. That. Didn’t. Look. Like. A. Purse. He said he’d seen someone at the bar with a really cool one where the shoulder strap looked like a seatbelt. I wasn’t sure what he meant until I googled it and discovered that a company named Chrome has been making messenger bags like that for a while. The bag was a little expensive, but I got Joyce and Mrs. LaSalle to come in with me on it, so it wasn’t too bad for any of us. And we knew we were getting Keaton something he actually wanted. Y’all can probably guess that Keaton is usually impossible to shop for, so I was glad he dropped the hint about the messenger bag on Christmas.
Now, you can’t just buy someone a bag. You have to put something inside, the way Joyce put a dollar in the wallet she gave me for my birthday. Since this was Keaton, the thing that went inside had to be super gayass…and I decided that the gayassest thing I could come up with was a little dog for him to carry in his new purse. Keaton doesn’t hate dogs at all, and he plays with our neighbor’s dog when he gets the chance, but that’s a yellow lab. Definitely not a purse dog.
What I needed was a purse dog I could borrow. I wasn’t really going to buy Keaton a dog and stick him with it. It would be plenty funny if we could get him to believe that he was stuck with it. I told Joyce about my idea and she said she’d ask around. Turns out the person I should have asked first was Mrs. LaSalle, since she had a friend who went around with a little yorkie named Enid in her purse all the time. The dog was super friendly, she said, and her owner said she wouldn’t mind lending her out for an hour or so…especially once Mrs. LaSalle described Keaton to her and she tried to imagine someone like Keaton holding a yorkie with a pink bow in her hair. She thought the joke would be hilarious.
We had a little party for Keaton in the afternoon, since it was a Saturday and he had to go into work later on. It wasn’t a big deal, just me, Joyce, Mrs. LaSalle and Travis over at my place. Joyce helped put together a pink and lavender balloon bouquet – it looked amazing, but, when I told her to make it gayass, she took me seriously – and put up a few other decorations, since she thinks my apartment is ‘underdecorated’. It didn’t look like Joyce’s house looked for my birthday, but remember this is Keaton.
He just thought he was coming over for a pre-work coke and Moon Pie which I said I’d stick a candle in – which was about all the birthday he said he was ok with. Instead we all hid behind the couch when we saw him coming towards my building.
So he came in the door, we jumped out and yelled surprise and…
He burst out laughing before he said, “you’re gonna need to be very careful…how many times do I have to get you back now, bubba?”.
He wasn’t expecting Joyce and Mrs. LaSalle to be there, and he thanked them very nicely. Travis he gave shit to, however.
“You know how gay birthday parties are, right, hoss?”
“Then how come you’re at one?”
“He’s got a point,” said Mrs. LaSalle. Everyone got a laugh out of her stepping into that exchange.
Clearly there was going to have to be more than just a Moon Pie with a candle in it. Me and Joyce arranged for a Baskin Robbins cake (just in case I got stuck with any leftovers lol), and we brought that out right away, with a full set of 34 candles. (My house, my rules: and my rules are an extra candle ‘to grow on’.) Keaton was ok with the cake (he had two pieces) and the coke to wash it down with (he didn’t want a beer before work), and it was a nice little party.
“What?,” Keaton then asked, “no present?”
“Of course you’re getting something,” Joyce said. “Hunter darling…go get it.”
So I went into my bedroom and got the messenger bag…with the dog inside. (The dog had been wonderful and not barked the whole time we were having our cake. I reckon she knew not to ruin the surprise. And, no, she didn’t pee on the carpet in my bedroom either.)
“You said you wanted a messenger bag that didn’t look all gayass and like a purse,” I said. “So we got you one. I think this is the one you said you wanted, with the seat belt strap…”
I handed him the bag.
He looked pleased. “Thanks, bubba.”
“It’s from Joyce and Mrs. LaSalle too.”
“Wow,” he said, surprised. “That’s so nice of y’all.”
That’s when he noticed the bag was heavier than it ought to be. And that’s the exact moment when Enid stuck her nose out the top of the bag.
“We decided to get you something to go in your new bag. So we got you a little doggie.”
“You fuckin didn’t,” said Keaton. “Tell me you fuckin didn’t. What the fuck am I gonna do with a…”
“Carry it in your purse of course,” said Mrs. LaSalle, getting in on the game.
“She’s not returnable either,” Joyce said. “That’s how we got a last of the litter discount.”
Keaton was so mixed up he was blushing. I’ve seen him scary and silent…but I’ve never seen him speechless. He couldn’t even use his favorite word.
He did take the dog out of the bag. I grabbed a picture with my phone of badass Keaton Penner with a little yorkie with a pink bow in her head. Everyone else followed my example.
“I can’t wait to put this on Facebook,” said Mrs. LaSalle. “You look adorable together.”
“This is a fuckin joke, right?,” Keaton asked, finally finding his voice again.
“Nope. You’re a daddy. How cute is Daddy’s Little Girl, yes, how cute is she?,” I said petting the dog, who, gayass though she was, really was pretty cute. “Daddy’s going to love his new little girl, isn’t he?” I decided to risk his taking my arm off and patted Keaton on the head too.
“You are so dead, bubba,” he said, unable to control how much he was blushing from embarrassment. “What am I gonna do with a fuckin super gay dog like this?”
“Make sure you walk it, amigo,” said Juan Diego, who was in on the joke and who we’d told to drop by to get a piece of cake. “I don’t want no dog peeing and pooping on my carpets. Pero que lindito esta el perrito!”
Keaton put the dog down on the floor. She started running all around.
“It’s gonna piss on the carpet,” Keaton said. “Someone take it outside.”
“It,” Joyce corrected, “is a she. And I’ll take her.”
“You didn’t really fucking get me a dog,” Keaton said to me.
“Yep.” I was having trouble not laughing.
“What am I gonna feed it…her…?”
“I bought some food for tonight, and I got a water dish, too,” I said. Mrs. LaSalle’s friend had lent us all the things we’d need to make it look like Enid was really moving in. “She’ll be fine until you get back from work.”
“And where’s it…she gonna sleep?”
“In your bed, of course,” I said.
“Tomorrow we’ll take you to Petco,” said Mrs. LaSalle. “It’s right across from where you used to live.”
Keaton couldn’t help but growl at the memory of that building. Dang he hated that place. Then he growled some more thinking about the dog.
“What are you going to name her?,” asked Travis. “How about Foo-Foo?”
“Fuck you, hoss,” said Keaton. He really was beside himself. It was hilarious. I don’t know how we all managed to keep a straight face. “I also gotta get to work,” he said. “Fuck…what am I gonna do about the dog?,” he asked. “Can I just leave it…her?”
“We’ll take care of her,” said Joyce, coming back inside. “Hunter can take her into your apartment and close up. Think how excited she’ll be when she sees her new daddy come home.”
“Just make sure she doesn’t pee,” said Juan Diego.
“Give her a kiss before you leave,” said Mrs. LaSalle, picking the dog up and moving her towards Keaton’s face. We planned for Mrs. LaSalle to do that. If I tried, Keaton might have taken a swing at me. It was hilarious too because Mrs. LaSalle is maybe 5’1” and Keaton was dressed and almost 6’3”. “Now Foo-Foo, give your new Daddzy-Waddzy a nice kissy-kissy…!”
“I ain’t kissin no dog,” said Keaton, politely, since it was Mrs. LaSalle who was sticking the dog in his face. “And I ain’t no dog’s daddy, neither.”
I made sure to get a picture.
“Thanks for the party,” Keaton said. “And you ain’t heard the last of this, bubba.” He growled his way out.
We waited until we heard him start his car before we all burst out laughing.
I wasn’t done though. I had to rub it in some more at the Volcano, where I showed up around 11:30. Dani, Ron and Miguel all knew what I was up to.
“Your attention everyone!,” said Dani as Miguel flashed the lights and she rang the cow bell they keep behind the bar to ring for last call. “Before it’s midnight I’ve got an announcement – it’s a member of Team Volcano’s birthday today. Keaton’s the birthday boy. So in his honor we’re offering Penner Punches for $1 for the rest of the night.
“Before we sing Happy Birthday,” she continued, “Hunter here wants you to see the adorable present he got Keaton.
“Her name’s Foo-Foo,” said Travis, who’d come to the bar with me. (He was off the medication that kept him from drinking again. I think he’s better without it.)
Me and Travis both got our phones out and started passing them around. Everyone said “oooh”, “aaah”, “adorable” and “cute!” – and a few people said “you got that dude that dog??”.
Keaton was torn between embarrassment and wanting to kill me lol. I was going to let him off the hook…just not yet. Everyone had to sing to him first. So everyone in the bar sang ‘Happy Birthday’, they sold a few Penner Punches (people will do anything to get cheep booze) , and me and Travis headed to the back with a couple beers to chill until it was time to go home.
“You are gonna tell him it’s all a joke, right?,” Travis asked.
“Of course.” By this time Enid/Foo-Foo was long back with her owner. “Just not right away,” I said. “I’m enjoying this too much.”
Keaton at least got some of his back when there was a small altercation back near where I was with Travis. Just one dude getting a little loud and stupid, nothing too exciting. He didn’t throw a punch at Keaton, so Keaton couldn’t retaliate…but he did get to throw him out. He probably didn’t have to be as rough as he was with him, but he did have to get some of his cred back after everyone saw the pictures of him making kissy-kissy on Foo-Foo.
I hung out after the bar closed, and Keaton gave me a Short Story like usual (Keaton: “not like you deserve it after the fuckin dog”), and he drove me home in the truck. I followed him to his door, since that was when I decided it was gonna be time to let him off the hook.
“Foo-Foo’s probably asleep,” I said. “Don’t wake her up. Unless you want to have to walk her again.”
“You are so gonna regret this, bubba,” said Keaton.
“Ssssssh,” I said, as he opened the door.
He was trying to be as quiet as possible…
…and slowly it started to dawn on him that there was no dog in the apartment.
Finally I couldn’t hold it in any longer and burst out laughing. Like a crazy idiot. As in I had to go over to the wall to hold myself up.
I was crying I was laughing so hard. I’m sure my face was bright red too.
“Dude, you should have seen the look on your face when you saw the dog. And when Mrs. LaSalle made you kiss her.” I couldn’t go much further than that, since I was doubled-over laughing again.
“Yep, man. You just got the fuck pranked outta you!”
“You are so dead, bubba.” He couldn’t finish because he was laughing too. “Wait until El Tigre has the two of us in the ring next time.” Then he decided to retaliate sooner than that and punched me in the arm. Keaton’s punched me in the arm before; this time I got an idea of what it must be like when he hits a dude at the Volcano.
“Shit, man…that hurt.”
“Good. It was supposed to,” he said. “You had it coming.”
“Ok, I had it coming. But it was worth it.” Then I started laughing again, even if my shoulder still hurt. I got out my phone, looked at the kissy-kissy photo, and then I really started laughing all over again.
Once I got hold of myself I had to explain the whole prank to him after that, how Mrs. LaSalle borrowed Enid from her owner and how we were all in on the joke. He kept telling me that I was gonna be so fuckin dead…but I think he was kinda glad that we’d gotten him as good as we had.
“And you do get to keep the cool bag,” I said at the end, “so you’re not a total loser. And this oughtta teach you not to tell me birthdays are gay.”
“Ok, ok…you got me, man. I admit defeat…” He was still laughing. “Now get your pretty boy ass outta here. I need to get some sleep.”
“Night, man. Happy bir— “
“Don’t even fuckin think of sayin it!”