How a joke can backfire

On Thursday, with it being Valentine’s Day, I got to thinking about a joke that a couple of us played on a work colleague many years ago when I worked in research. Said colleague was very good at what he did, technically skilled, but a bit of a klutz. Not unpleasant, but socially maladroit. Not someone you’d choose to go out for a drink with, but whom you wouldn’t shun if he walked in the pub. I suspect we all know people like him.

He had a terrible crush on one of the other lab techs. He wasn’t the only one by any means. She was good at her job too, had black hair, a pretty if rather anodyne face, quite a bosom, great legs. Lots of the right things in lots of the right places, and she left me unmoved. Intelligent yes. But no detectable personality. This didn’t stop my colleague.

Anyway, a mate of mine and I hatched a plot, and we sent our colleague a Valentine Card. Because he was a klutz, he immediately leapt to the conclusion that the object of his desires had sent it to him, though heaven knows why he made that leap of faith. And here’s the kicker. He and his beloved both worked in the same department, and he embarked on an all-hours charm offensive, except sadly he lacked the charm to make that work, and she was not interested anyway, lusting as she was after my mate/fellow prankster.

Relations got a bit strained, to the extent that the department head had to intervene and warn him off. It was not a heavy-duty official warning, just an advisory caution, a quiet word in the ear. Embarrassing enough, though.

He never did grasp that he’d got hold of the wrong end of the stick about the card. I left the company a few months later, but I’d still see him around town, and later in his new job where he’d become a section head in a DIY store. I always felt a pang of guilt.

As for my co-conspirator and the siren? I don’t know for sure, but I do know where my money would go if I laid a bet.