Falling Down Stairs
Type: Tradition/Practical Joke
The following is a transcript of our interview, during which my informant described an unofficial tradition in his school:
“This guy named… I forgot his name but his legacy lives on. When I was in 8th grade he was a Junior, when this thing called may fate this big thing our school does when each Class makes a skit for fun, it’s a big assembly we go to its like 4 hours long. In the middle of it there is a ball and there is a dance with princes and princesses and there is a ball dance where all the people voted dance with their date, and they’ve been doing it since the friggin 20’s and its all slow and quiet and the lights are off, and this guy goes down bleachers stairs and on his way down he each so much spectacular shit and it was hilarious, and if you didn’t see it you heard it because it was hilarious, and you knew it was too perfect that it had to be planned, so he got up and acted dazed and ran out . the vice principle walked out to see if hew as okay. Same year, the kid does the same thing again, the VP is pissed. Year after that, he’s graduated so my friend named Aaron took up the torch of falling down the stairs in a spectacular fashion during the ball. This time the vice principle,was pretty damn mad so he sprinted out after aaron.
We didn’t think it was going to happen in Senior year, and at the end of the dance, lo’ and behold, two people opposite sides of the gym at the same time fall like halfway down the stairs, it was incredible like a stunt team somersaulting down the stairs, the look on the VP’s face looked like he was going to have a goddamn stroke. That happened my Senior year and I assume it continued.
My informant said he looked forward to this every year; he claimed, “it was the funniest thing I remember happening.” He explained he liked seeing the Vice Principal so mad because he was a very strict member of the administration.
The rebelliousness of this event is crucial: by falling down clumsily in a setting predicated on grace, the prankster destroys the ambiance of the school’s traditional ball, willingly disregarding the authority that disempowers students—the administrative body. Thus, the prank is an act of empowerment, a way for the students to make the moment “theirs.”