This may surprise you all, but I was a bit of a bad boy in my earlier years. And by earlier years I mean the summer of 2009. And by “bad boy” I mean I was just a eleven year old kid who was easily pressured into doing things by other obnoxious eleven year old kids.
While none of these things involved drugs and/or sexual activity (that comes later), they did involve being a general nuisance to the people in the surrounding neighborhood. I feel bad about it now, and I felt extra bad about it then, but that didn’t stop me from doing it anyway.
What? I was lonely. Quit hatin’, haters.
The first time I ever actually rang the doorbell of a stranger’s house was at around eleven o’clock at night, at a friend’s sleepover. I’m not really sure if you could call them friends, because at the time, they were really pretty horrible towards me. The only reason I really hung out with them was because 1) their parents were best friends with my parents, 2) they were also very close to my brother, so even if I said I didn’t want to hang out they’d get my brother’s permission to come to my house anyway, and 3) I was hardly the most confident or social person at the time, so I had gone with the misguided assumption that they were the best I could get, and that their constant harassment, manipulation, and general shittiness was normal and okay.
Anyway, I had come in late, and the group of kids had dared me, nay, triple dog dared me, to ding dong ditch this one dude’s house. They also ganged up on me with a bunch of insults and taunts until I finally agreed to do it.
Now, three things they hadn’t told me that I sort of wish I’d known:
- They’d already ding dong ditched this guy before, just the other night.
- They did it again earlier that day.
- Then they did it three more times within the past hour.
I’m not sure why they were targeting this one specific person, but for whatever the reason, this man was furious.
So this other kid and I (honestly, I forgot his name. I think it was Chris?) walked up to the front door, real quiet-like, and instead of letting me ring it myself (as was agreed), Chris pushed me to the side and pressed the bell not one, not two, but a good seven to eight times in rapid succession. He would have gotten more but I knocked him out of the way, because goddammit, there was no way I was going through this much trouble without at least getting to ring it once myself. I could already hear everyone else saying, “Oh wow, you didn’t even ring the doorbell?” and taunting me nonstop for it the rest of the night.
(If you’re looking for a reason as to why I became so anti-social during my middle school years, well, there you have it.)
So as Chris ran off I went up towards the doorbell. As I was about to press it I looked inside to see a giant bull of man charging down the staircase with this furious, out-to-kill look on his face. I hesitated, then pressed the doorbell anyway, and made a run for it.
Not gonna lie, I was fast. The rabbit was totally my spirit animal at that moment. I ran down his yard, down the street, then I switched directions suddenly, darting through some one’s else yard, into another yard, and I laid down on this little patch of grass between some hedges and a fence. (Like any normal kid, I knew the shortcuts and the hiding spots of my neighborhood very well.)
Then I waited for what seemed like an hour or so, but I’ll never actually be sure. Mostly because I didn’t have a cell phone at the time, and even if I did I would’ve been afraid to turn it on in case the light gave me away. But eventually I got bored and went back to the house, where not a single one of them was impressed with my act of bravery, which really ticked me off, but did I say anything? Nah. They ended up playing one of those Madden NFL video games while I, having no interest in that sort of thing, just sort of sat and watched, struggling with those feelings of intense loneliness that I would be dealing with for years afterwards.
But before this turns into one of those pity parties, (“Aw, Matt was lonely at one point. I bet he’s the only one who’s ever felt like that.”) let’s fast forward until later that week when I was hanging out with Josh, just the two of us. (Josh was the host of that sleepover, by the way.) He was probably my closest friend at the time, despite the fact that he was pretty consistently terrible to me. He became a much better person later on, I think, but at the time he was one manipulative little fucker.
He was convincing me to do the ol’ ring and run with him again, and, remembering what happened last time, I said nay. But then Josh made the claim that I’d never ding-dong ditched anyone before, and that was why I was afraid to do it. “Not true,” I said, my blood starting to boil.* “I did it to that one guy just the other day.”
“No, that was Chris who did that,” he said, in a very matter-of-fact tone. “You just stood behind him.”
If I was bear, I totally would’ve growled at him for saying that. Or more accurately, I would have growled at Chris, who had stolen my shot of badassery for himself. In fact I was starting to suspect that the reason they had Chris go with me in the first place was to get me caught so I’d end up taking the blame. (Looking back at it, yes, that was exactly what they were doing.)
I told him that I did, in fact, ring the doorbell, and I did it while the man was actually coming down the staircase, which took a lot more guts to pull off. Josh said that oh, if you could do that, then you should have no problem doing just one house, right?
So I was like, “Fine. Fuck it, let’s do one house.”
And we did, and this time, everything went perfectly. Then for some reason we did another house, and another, until the tally totalled about seven in one day. God help me, I was enjoying every moment of it. The adrenaline, the fear, that feeling that I could totally blog about this in just a few years. It was just exhilarating.
So then we went to our last house of the day. This was a cozy looking house in the street near mine. The plan was to give it the ol’ ring-a-ling and then run through this shortcut that led straight back to where I lived. And we did exactly that. Then we called it a day and just played basketball outside my house for a while.
But then a really loud, angry sounding pick-up truck pulled into the driveway, and guess who stepped out? Yep, you guessed it. Seth Rogen.
Okay, maybe it wasn’t Seth Rogen. It was actually the owner of that last house we’d just pranked, who had seen us running away from his house and had come here to give us a piece of his mind.
Said owner yelled at us for a while, and then threatened to shoot us with his gun if he saw us on his property again. (That was actually pretty badass, now that I think of it.) He then told my parents what happened, and I know this sounds petty to bring up, but he didn’t even mention Josh’s involvement in the whole thing, despite the fact that he definitely saw him with me. Nope, it was all my fault. I was painted as the bad influence in the relationship, which was possibly the most frustrating part of the whole thing.
After getting me grounded and having Josh sent home, the man sauntered off back to his car with a “fuck yeah” kind of attitude. He actually turned out to be really chill guy (most people are when you’re not invading their property), but that’s a story for another day.
It was after this point that I decided that my days pulling obnoxious stunts were over (they weren’t), and I would proceed to find less douchey hobbies to spend my time with. And I wouldn’t let my friends (I should really put quotation marks around that word) talk me into anything like that again.
Nowadays I would never ring a person’s doorbell and run away, not because I’m afraid of the consequences but because I now know first hand just how creepy it is to be ding-dong-ditched. Not gonna lie, that shit is spooky. There’s something deeply unnerving about opening the door late at night to find no one there, and realizing that an unknown stranger had just gone onto your property and is probably watching how you react. *shivers at the thought*
Basically, the moral of the story is: well, I’m not really sure. There’s probably something you can find in there, though.
*Josh wasn’t his real name, by the way. I just changed it to protect his privacy, and also because he was portrayed in a really negative manner, and I feel bad because he’s a much better person these days.
So, does anyone here have experience in this whole ding-dong-ditching thing? Which side of the prank were you on? More importantly, did anyone ever threaten to shoot you before? If so, did they ever follow through with it? Because I accidentally threw a frisbee onto that guy’s property the other day, and I’m afraid to get it back because I’m afraid I might, y’know, die.