Forking: Prank really sticks out

Forking lawns is the modern trickster's alternative to TPing a friend's or neighbor's house.

TPing your friend's house is so last century. These days the kids fork yards, then videotape their victims' reactions and put it up on YouTube.

Other pranks popular with teens and tweens who have time on their hands and mischief in their hearts include Saran-wrapping cars and covering garage doors with Post-It notes. But forking, while not really new, seems the most bizarre and least expected trick to play on a friend, neighbor or even enemy (much riskier -- they're more likely to charge vandalism).

On those long summer days in the pre-Internet world, bored kids had to dream up their own shenanigans, and word spread a lot more slowly to would-be copycats. Now you can find not only dozens of videos online of forked yards and their owners' reactions, but how-to advice. Hint: Stick the plastic forks in handle down -- less breakage that way -- then coat them with Vaseline so they're harder to pull out of the ground.

Adults get in on the forking action, too. For a friend's 40th birthday, Debbie Kytola of Owatonna, Minn., forked her yard, topping each utensil with a Little Debbie snack cake.

Compared with TPing, forking is more rewarding for perpetrators because the victims are usually more baffled. And as pranks go, forking isn't as hard on the receiver as egging or shaving cream, which can wreck a paint job or stain a driveway, nor as tough to clean up as a house and trees covered in hundreds of yards of toilet paper.

On a recent forking expedition, a group of teens in Eden Prairie were surprised to find that the clerk at Walgreen's was onto them when they plunked down a few hundred forks and a tub of Vaseline on the counter.

The clerk asked for an ID "in case anything was reported," said 14-year-old Owen Sweeney of Chanhassen, a forker who admits to at least intermediate-level experience. Could be that the group's other purchases -- toilet paper and shaving cream -- were the tip-off.

Not everyone is amused by forking. The Eden Prairie Police Department has received a couple of calls regarding yard forking incidents within the past year, said spokeswoman Katie Beal. Worst-case scenario for perps caught fork-handed? Probably a disorderly conduct charge, she said, and anyone under 18 out after curfew could be charged with that as well.

For the most part, forking is all in fun, but if you're going to fork, or TP or Post-It or Saran Wrap any large objects, please think of our poor landfills and find a way to recycle. Maybe a prankster co-op trading post is in order.

And if you're ever the victim of a major forking, look on the bright side: You just got a free lawn aeration.

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