PATSY R. BRUMFIELD: Why surprise over teenage ’book pranks?

Forgive me for laughing, as I try to write this, but sometimes young people do very foolish and very funny things, although they are not the latter to some folks.

Take yearbook advisers, for instance.

A young Missouri woman is in serious hot water charged with “felony property damage” for substituting a rather vulgar phrase for a classmate’s last name.

It’s the “M” word, which my mother told me her mother told her would cause you to go blind if you did.

It reminded me of the story I told some years ago about the furious telephone call I got 14 years ago.

It was the Brandon High School yearbook adviser, who took all-things-annual very, very seriously. I think that’s because she took herself thus.

Nonetheless, the completely unhinged woman called me to frantically report that my high-school senior son “had RUINED” the yearbook.

Oh, my goodness, I thought to myself, because Will was very bad to play pranks of all kinds. Had he set fire to a truckload of books? Had he turned a stream of water upon the recent delivery? What, what had he done to so enrage her?

Her tale began with the words, “Well, as we prepared our color senior section, we got all our full names from the school counselors …”

Then it hit me!

A month or so before, a very kind counselor had called to ask a question. Of course, I immediately feared that Will had been expelled right before graduation.

“Is Will’s middle name Goldberg?” she said. I started to laugh and explained that Will didn’t like his middle name, a family name, and presently his favorite WCW wrestler was Bill Goldberg. The counselor decided she’d just use Will’s real middle initial instead of his full name on his diploma.

End of story, I thought. Now comes the yearbook adviser, surely her hair on fire on the other end of the telephone connection.

It turned out that she’d taken the seniors’ full names and had them printed beautifully beneath their color portraits.

And, of course, my son’s read William Goldberg Bardwell. What more horrible deed could have befallen the yearbook? Perhaps it’s the Class of 1999 Senior Composite, which hangs in a place of honor at Brandon High, bearing Will’s smiling image with middle-name “Goldberg” emblazoned below.

I did my best to calm the poor woman. I told her I certainly wasn’t upset because members of our family were always doing crazy things. Not to her yearbook, I’m sure she was thinking.

And so, we disengaged our conversation. She may still be furious. I continue to chuckle at how Will pulled one over on the high school’s biggest stickler for correctness.

I am reminded of it today because of that recent bit of news in Missouri.

I laughed out loud when I read the story.

What a difference 14 years makes. Have we all gone too, too serious about childish pranks? Vulgar, yes. Felony property damage, well?

People, everyone over the age of 35 knows that everyone under the age of 21 is liable to do silly, even stupid things. That’s why the law makes a distinction between adults and minors.

Thank goodness, Goldberg didn’t sue for misappropriation of his trademark.

PATSY R. BRUMFIELD writes a Thursday column. Contact her at (662) 678-1596 or

Patsy R. Brumfield / NEMS Daily Journal

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