They say America’s favorite pastime is baseball. Well, Michael Hotard’s favorite pastime was ringing people’s doorbells and watching them get furious when no one was there.

What can I say…I guess I was always a troll at heart, even before I knew what a troll was.

There are dozens upon dozens of things I miss about my childhood, but ding dong ditching people in my neighborhood takes the cake. Because of my superb maturity level, I did this until probably sophomore year of high school.

From probably 7th grade all the way through freshman year, it basically became an addiction.

I would say to kids do try this at home, but you wind up getting shot or some other crazy shit happens so probably not the best idea.

Luckily when I was growing up, this was just a classic example of kids being kids. At worst if caught, we got a stern talking to from our parents were told to stop which meant nothing. The cycle was then repeated. I would get yelled at or told how wrong it is, possibly grounded. Let the heat die down and the reign of terror was brought down as no doorbells were safe.

Here are a couple of my favorite ding dong ditch stories…

Feeling Myself (Yolo)

I was with my best and longest childhood friend Mike and there was a house on the next street directly across from a small alley between two house which led directly back to my house. It was super easy to get away with getting this house because we would hide in the shadows and just head back to my house once the kind folks went inside. Well one particular night, we got these people once. We were ballsy so it was common place to hit a few more houses and then return the scene of the crime for more. We did just that.

On the second try after they went back inside, we saw their maybe 7 year old son staring out the front door. Did I mention how ballsy we were? The door was pretty much all glass. The kid was standing there. I turned to Mike and said you ready to do something stupid? Before he could answer, I ran into the middle of the street with him trailing behind asking what the hell I was doing. At which point, said child screamed “I see them. I see them.” We booked it down the street running through people’s yards to avoid lights. Joke was on us as every person apparently had motion detection lights. We made it down the street before they even made it outside. We won.

How The Hell Did This Happen?

There was a house maybe five lots down from me and my neighbor Alex, who was my weekday partner in crime. After Katrina, most of the fences in the neighborhood were knocked down making for easy escape routes.

We decided to hide across the street in a pitch black area behind a trash can. Well the guy was looking around his house and we hear the garage door on side of us. I am thinking son of a bitch, we are screwed. Luckily, he never came to bring trash to the can. However, he did talk to his neighbor…for 45 freaking minutes! It seemed like we were there for three hours. I contemplated hopping the fence behind me, but stayed put. Dodged another one.

Third Time is a Charm

Normally, once is easy. Twice you’re playing with fire. Three times, you may as well just wait for them to answer the door. We actually got one of my friend’s houses probably about 8:30 on a school night. We hid. They couldn’t find us. The usual.

My buddy Alex got them again. This time, my old coach storms out of the house visibly ticked off and rightfully so. We waited for a bit before moving a couple of streets over to get in a safe zone. Low and behold, these sons of bitches come around the corner and luckily we were on the other end of the street so we ran even further away. Talk about dedication to finding us.

My buddy got the bright idea up his ass to get them a third time. After arguing with him about that for a while, he convinced me to do it since he took the first two.

I am crawling through the garden to avoid being seen. As I turned toward the porch and peered my head around the corner, I swear to God it was one of those OH FUCK moments in a horror movie. This dude was waiting at his door looking through his side window. I took off and heard him scream my name when he opened the door. Needless to say I got bitched out while I see Alex in the bushes laughing hysterically.

A Flight of Stairs, a Glass Door and the Nearest Hide Out in Another Zip Code (Fuck it)

There is one particular house on my parents street that has maybe 10 stairs leading up to their all glass front door and not many bushes. The nearest set of buses is about two houses down. That may seem easy but when you are at a significant disadvantage with stairs and a glass door, it becomes a little more complicated.

I walk up the stairs ever so quietly and I can literally see this couple sitting in their living room watching Wheel of Fortune. I rang the bell, jumped and cleared the stairs and booked it to where my buddy Mike was hiding and for all that is holy, somehow made it before these idiots got to their door. They didn’t seem to be too phased. It was pretty anti-climactic, but shit man give me credit for difficulty.

Knocking All Around

Remember how I said fences were down after Katrina? Well, there was a house behind my buddy Alex who had a fence board missing making for an easy way to get around. We had been getting these people for a couple of weeks at this point. We would start with the front of their house. Then, we would wait a while and get the back of their house. One night, we felt ballsy. So we basically, just kept getting them every 15-20 minutes rotating between the two and pulling the switcharoo to keep them on their toes. After getting them about 5 times that night, these fuckers went out both sides of the house finally and saw us in the ally.

My favorite part about this was the guy who caught us was actually super cool. He was legitimately laughing at our effort and said “You assholes. Dude I get it. I used to do this shit too when I was younger. But I caught you, I know one of you lives behind us. It’s over now. Cool?” He actually shook our hands. That guy is a legend in my book and understands a good gag. We never got his house again.

I Miss It

I was thinking about all the houses we used to get when I was running around my neighborhood the other day and how much fun it was. This may seem like a pointless column to post and it kind of is. But I’ve said before I almost treat this like a diary. Consider this one of my memoirs. To all the people I used to actively do this with, Alex, Mike, George and whoever else…I say we wait 40 years and wreak havoc again when we approach 70.

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