Nothing quite like a good old-fashioned pie fight to relieve tension.
The first time I put a pie in somebody’s face, it was my my brother’s friend and roommate, Neil. He got it during his first appearance as head of the Saturday Morning Fun Club while kicking off the season and announcing the movie. A third roommate suggested the pie-in-the-face after getting a little tired of Neil’s excitement about this upcoming event, and everyone agreed he deserved it for his sense of smug self-satisfaction.
I got to do the honors as the one he’d least suspect out of his friends on stage for his “debut” — and caught him totally off-guard mid-sentence with a pie in the face and cracked up the whole theater.
Curtain up, lights down, start the movie!
Let me tell you: once you’ve thrown that first pie…
I don’t know how the first pie fight out at the Brown Schools’ Ranch got started. At the end of a long, no doubt hard, day for residents and staff on our locked psychiatric unit, somebody had gone on the nightly treat run to pick up snacks and smokes— and returned with several cream pies as well. Minutes later, the first pie was thrown and then others flew in a free-flinging food fight in our dayroom, breaking the tension that too often burst out in the evening in a physical scuffle.
After all the pies had been sufficiently tossed and re-tossed to the point of disintegration, the residents hit the showers. We staff did a quick clean-up, washing down the tile walls and sweeping the water and debris into a drain room, then mopping the floor. The guys went to bed easily that night: happy, laughing and exhausted.
Obviously, once was not enough.
A few weeks later, as I walked up to our locked unit, someone opened the front door just as I reached for my keys, saying, “Phone call.” I hurried past them, rounded the corner into the hall to go into the office and — POW! caught a pie full in face.
Yanking off my glasses, I saw more pies stacked in the office as my laughing assailant escaped. I rushed in, picked up 2 pies and headed out the door into the hallway and — SWOOSH! — slipped on the remnants of that first pie.
My feet shot out from under me and I fell onto my back on the splattered pie, watching the 2 pies I’d been holding sail upward, then fall directly down on my chest as I lay there.
Yeah, they got me good that time.
We must have had four or five good pie fight nights over the next couple of months. Mostly, they went the same way: pie-slinging followed by showers followed by bed. Usually the pie fights served to release pent-up tension and calm the guys down.
I only recall having to take one guy to calm down in his room. When I got back to the office, my fellow staff member, Victor couldn’t stop laughing. “What?”
“Watching you walk Jim down to his room with a pie plate stuck on the back of your head…” he cracked up again as I felt and, sure enough, found, a pie plate on my head.
During a frenzied pie fight once, we had to interrupt the whole proceedings and lend assistance to the adjacent unit where a resident had set fire to a mattress. The staff had already doused the fire but the smoldering remains and the smoke were still being cleared out. We opened the door between the two locked units so we could go back and forth as we helped remove debris while making sure no residents wandered off into the night.
The CSO (Center Supervisor Officer), Byron, had come up to oversee staff getting things back to “normal,” walking back and forth between their dayroom and ours. Finally, at one point he turned to me and looked around at the pie fragments coating the walls and floor of our dayroom and said, “I have to ask — what happened on this side?”
“Pie fight,” I said simply. He nodded and walked back to the other dayroom without saying anything.
That was our last pie fight at the Brown Schools.
It would be several years before my next pie-in-the-face incident. At my 30th Birthday Party, my friends got me to sit down as they lined up around me for a group photo.
“Okay — on 3,” Mike said, aiming the camera. “one…two…three…” POW! right in the face!
So, watch out! be careful!
You never know when that next pie might be coming or which friend will put it in your face!