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Monday, April 30, 2018



a cranky re-run from April 2014

The “Shaving Cream War” is from my self-published, little read book “I Used to be Stupid.”  This story comes in the middle of the book so some events and places may need explanation…probably not.  So here for your reading pleasure is the story of:


Freshman year at Lafayette College I was assigned to a painted cinder block room on the third floor of Marquis Hall.  When not studying or at class, I hung out with Frog and Dick Steifkin.  They both resided on the second floor.  We were all from Westfield so we had something in common.  We were only acquaintances in High School, but became good friends in College.

The three of us also became friends with Bruce Miller.  Bruce roomed on the fourth floor.  I am not sure how we met; I think it was Bruce who approached us.  Bruce was from Plainfield, our High School rival.  When he saw we were from Westfield he greeted us with some good natured ribbing about how lucky we were to have beaten their superior football team the year before.
We, of course, ribbed him back.  The back and forth ribbing led to friendship.  Bruce was very funny and a bit of a prankster.  We had some good times together.

One afternoon, Frog returned from class and found a huge sign on his door, “WESTFIELD SUCKS!!”  Had to be Miller he surmised.
Frog and Steifkin turned the sign around and inscribed in equally large letters, “WESTFIELD 14 – PLAINFIELD 12!!”  They took it to the fourth floor and duct taped it to Miller’s door.

Miller escalated. 

With Frog and Dick in their room, Miller snuck downstairs and sprayed a layer of shaving cream on the floor outside their door.  Miller knocked on the door and hid in the stairwell.  Steifkin answered the door, saw no one and stepped into the hall.  His bare feet stepped smack dab into the shaving cream.  The Woody Woodpecker laugh running up the stairs gave the culprit away….MILLER!!

Steifkin planned his retaliation.  He found a large manila envelope, filled it full of shaving cream and marched to Miller’s room on the fourth floor.  Placing the open end of the envelope slightly under Millers door, Steifkin stomped on it hard.  Shaving cream exploded into Miller’s room.

For some reason Bruce decided to one up this prank on me.  We generally did not lock our rooms, so access was easy.  While I was at class, Miller snuck into my room.  He then duct taped a full can of Gillette menthol over the entrance.  A string was taped to the nozzle and the other end of the string was attached to the back of the door.  A desk was moved in position to block the door such that it would only open at the max amount to pull the nozzle and yet not yank the can from the wall. The trap set, Miller retreated to his fourth floor lair.

I returned from class tired and a bit cranky.  I opened the door and stepped into the doorway.  First I heard the noise and then I felt the shaving cream.  Baffled by the stream of foul menthol smelling shaving cream, I stood motionless unaware of where the attack was coming.  I looked up and the mystery was solved by the constant blast of shaving cream now directly in my face.  By the time I moved and closed the door to stop the flow from above, I was covered head face and shoulders in Gillette menthol foam……MILLER!!

Without removing the shaving cream I immediately proceeded to the fourth floor and MILLER!  Looking somewhat like a rabid dog, I burst into Miller’s room.  Miller was expecting me.  He was sitting on the edge of the window sill with an evil smile on his face.

“I’m going to kill you, you fuck,” I blurted out, foam spraying from my mouth.  A prank such as this demanded that I at least shove a handful of shaving cream in the offenders face.  Miller should have accepted this without a fight, allowing me a face saving admission of his superior prank.  I was laughing as I announced I was going to kill him, so Miller knew I was there only to acknowledge his prank and get minimum (guy’s rule) payback.  Miller was not about to allow me this retribution.

Bruce leapt out the window onto the 14” ledge bordering the building.  He ran, not walked, not crept, but ran along the fourth floor ledge some thirty feet before escaping into the open window of another room.  I watched him run, laughing all the way with that mad man Woody Woodpecker laugh. I could not believe what I was seeing.  Miller ran bare foot along a fourteen inch ledge; certain death lay fifty feet below and he laughed the whole way.
Clearly the shaving cream war was over.

Maybe, I used to be stupid; Bruce Miller was crazy.

Whatever happened to Bruce?
If Google can be trusted, don’t you know he became a Psychiatrist!

Dr. Miller is Chief of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry. He supervises child psychiatry fellows in consultation-liaison psychiatry and child and family psychotherapy. He is an internationally recognized physician-scientist focusing on psychobiologic mechanisms by which child/adolescent stress and depression affects physical illness and somatization in children. His translational research program takes place in the Center for Child and Family Asthma Studies, (Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo) of which he is founder and co-director.

Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
1972 MD, Child Psychiatry
College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
1968 B.A., Biology
Lafayette College


  1. that takes pranks to a whole new 'level'

  2. That's hilarious, but you're not the only one who had a shaving cream war using the same tactics. Must have been universal in that particular demographic.

  3. Yikes, you guys were seriously pranky. Well he did turn out pretty well as an adult. Must have been that great balance.

  4. Fond memories indeed. You had fun too.

    Have a fabulous day and week, Cranky. ☺

  5. Oh, he was good. This bolsters my theory that only crazy people become psychiatrists.

  6. I guess he had a tough choice to make, between psychiatrist and circus tightrope walker.

  7. You're lucky Bruce Miller was not a future engineer...