Dear Annie: My office mates and I enjoy a good prank as a way of keeping things light.

Recently, a good friend of mine, “Jimmy,” went on an extended vacation with his family. I decided to do a prank I have long wanted to do: put his house up for sale. My wife, “Diana,” told me that I would get arrested and go to jail. I laughed it off, as she often says this to me when I am considering a next-level prank.

I listed his home in a local paper, “for sale by owner,” and described “myself” as a motivated seller. I instructed readers to call “my” cellphone. I put “for sale” signs in his yard and even went the extra mile of putting up banners.

I was surprised the neighbors never said a word. Well, as you can imagine, my friend’s phone rang hundreds of times while he and his family were vacationing. I thought it was funny, as did my office mates. But my friend did not.

It has been six months since this prank, and I should mention he got two really good offers, and he still won’t speak to me. I am hurt, confused, a bit angry, and wondering why on earth he, his wife and his two adult children are so angry.

I took the signs and banners down like they asked, but they are still mad. Even my wife is still fuming because she says I ruined his trip. If you ask me, he shouldn’t be spending all that money in the first place.

What really gets my goat is that my office workers have now turned on me, too.

What’s a friend to do?

— Hurting in Prank Town

Dear Hurting in Prank Town: You’re lucky your “friend” didn’t have you arrested. You seem to be unaware of boundaries or social norms, and you would be well advised to listen to your wife. It is not up to you to judge how your friend spends his money. He has every right to take his family on a nice vacation without having his phone ring off the hook. A vacation is a time to relax and recharge, and all you did, by drumming up a fake sale of his house, is to create stress — for him, his family and all those potential buyers.

The fact that he received two good offers is none of your business, and it’s beside the point.

If your office workers, your own family and the family that you pulled the prank on all think you need to apologize, perhaps it’s time to take a look in the mirror. If you still don’t see what you did wrong, well, my friend, then you are the clown.

Annie Lane, a graduate of New York Law School and New York University, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Email questions to

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