Monday, August 6, 2007

Rattlesnake Eggs

Imagine showing a mysterious envelope to your friends. On the outside of the envelope are warnings about the contents, letting people know that whatever is inside is very dangerous. The envelope isn't flat, there is obviously something in there. You tell everyone that the envelope contains rattlesnake eggs, and if they're very careful they can take a peek. You lift the flap, you hold the envelope out, they bend close to peer inside, and you carefully open the envelope...

...and your friends jump like crazy when a loud rattling sound buzzes from inside the envelope!

When I was growing up, every few years I would make this simple practical joke and scare a brand new group of schoolmates. Nobody ever seemed to have heard of it, which made it all the better because they weren't expecting it.

(Yay! More of Ted's cheesy diagrams!)


1. A mailing envelope.
2. A wire coat hanger.
3. A rubber band.
4. A large coat button.

The first thing to do is to cut the hook end of the coat hanger off, as shown in step 1 over on the right. The easiest way to do it is to use a pair of snips or dykes (cutting pliers), but if you must you can just bend the soft metal of the hanger hook back and forth until it breaks. Be careful, the edges might be sharp!

Next, thread the rubber band through the button holes as shown in step 2.

The only fiddly bit is the size of the button. Too small, and it won't spin right to make the noise, too big and you'll have the same problem. Look through mom's button box and find a few to try.

The ends of the rubber bands go over the ends of the wire hook. Then you just wind up the button until the rubber bands are twisted tight. If you let go of the button now, you'll see how it spins rapidly. Inside the envelope, the button will snap against the paper sides which creates the loud buzzing sound that startles people.

Don't forget to write dire warnings on the outside of the envelope! Things like "Danger: Rattlesnake Eggs" and "Do Not Crush: Rattlesnake Eggs" are good. Skulls and Crossbones are always fashionable.

To use, wind up the button and slip it inside the envelope. Hold the sides so the button doesn't move and give away the trick until you're ready. You can even peek inside yourself while holding the button. When everyone is looking inside, slightly open the envelope and let it buzz!

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