Some called it “turtling,” “flipping,” “burritoing,” or “nuggeting,” but many remember the high school gag of taking someone’s backpack, removing the contents, turning it inside out and putting everything back in. Masters of the craft could steal a backpack in the middle of class and reverse it so quietly that the victim knew nothing until the end of the period. The look that crossed the poor kid’s face could be savored like fine wine.  You see the shocked incomprehension of a three-year-old who sees a magic trick, laced with anger and indignation, and the crushing realization that it’s actually pretty funny.

In college, we face Commissioner Gordon’s dilemma at the end of Batman Begins: escalation. There’s more work, in class and out, and worst of all we expect ourselves to act like adults. People that used to brag that turtling your backpack in ten seconds was “child’s play” are now struck with the harsh reality of that phrase: if they do it now, people will just think they’re immature.

The solution is simple: ratchet up the stakes. A college turtler doesn’t go for the victim’s backpack; he or she goes for the victim’s life. From furniture to Frosted Flakes, every piece of the victim’s dorm, room, or apartment must face the vicious mirror of your pranking.

The first rule of turtling is consistency. In order to elevate the victim’s reaction from an irritated “Dude, what the heck did you do to the room” to an awed “Dude…the room’s inside out,” you have to give careful thought to each object you reposition. Though a full turtle in three dimensions is unfeasible with college student resources, turning it inside out in two dimensions will be plenty rewarding. Take my living room, for example:

I cannot perform a full turtle on my roommate, since he would be lethally nice and considerate about it. The following diagram shows a simplified floor plan before and after a possible turtle.

After consistency of the reversal, the two pieces of a successful turtle are surprise and inconvenience. It should be somewhat difficult for the victim to return their room to its intended use, and in the best of all possible circumstances you will have completed a thorough turtle of their living space while they’re out, so that their expression afterward can be enjoyed with fava beans and human liver.

Smaller objects deserve equal attention. If turning it inside out will not break it beyond repairs made with scotch tape, it’s fair game, so be creative. Here are a few to inspire you.

Cardboard Food Boxes: These only have one or two seams that you have to cut through and bags for freshness which prevent mess. Best of all, when you’re done, they all look the same:”¨

Just think of all the confusion you’ll cause if there’s more than two kinds of cereal in the victim’s apartment!

Lamp: “Dude, what happened to the lamp?”

“I dunno… I think it partied pretty hard on New Years…”

Beds: Perfect for turtlers who want to go big and still not upset the victim. The payoff is great, but you can still reverse the turtle in 20 minutes or so. Start by placing blankets in the opposite order that they were laid, then the flat sheet, and then the pillows with cases turned inside out:

Once that’s done, take the fitted sheet and the mattress protector and layer them, inside out, over everything else.

Cover with the egg crate, and voila!

And for a little extra mischief, nothing beats a final layer of reversal.Ӭ

Take note: all of these are fairly mild. If you’re pranking someone who will understand your hijinks (or someone you outright dislike), you can really go whole hog with the other person’s property. After a certain incident with a backpack and a welding torch, however, I’m not legally able to say more. Take care and happy turtling!