GW student Alec Snyder has managed to push his twin brother Ian’s buttons for their entire lives, but since March 23rd, 2012, he decided to take it up a notch. From a bombardment of random birthday messages to a school-wide conspiracy to rename Ian “Alec” for the day, Snyder has spent the last four years gearing up for the ultimate gift of brotherly love–convincing dozens of total strangers to mail Ian condoms.
Alec Snyder is a sophomore journalism major here at GW, and his twin brother Ian is studying neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. Operation Typical Porch–an anagram of prophylactic, (adj.: intended to prevent disease)–began as the brainchild of Snyder and his girlfriend, Jamie Kleiner.
“College is a time for growth and exploration,” Snyder wrote to a 350-member Facebook group, “and what better way to do that than to get to know our bodies in a safe way? That’s why I am asking all of you to mail to Ian an envelope with a condom enclosed, and a letter including the following message:
Practice safe sex.
Love, [Your name here]
According to Snyder, his brother is “both very gullible and easily bothered by this kind of confusion, so it makes him the perfect target.” From the very beginning, the pranks have been met with deliciously hilarious reactions from Ian. After an entire day of being called “Alec” by their schoolmates–and teachers!–Ian found Alec in the hallway. “He…slammed me against a wall, demanding to know why I did this,” Snyder says. “I played dumb.”
2016’s extravaganza has been much of the same. After the first “dozen or so” jimmy jackets arrived in the mail, Ian phoned Alec, accusing him as the source of the mischief–but again, Snyder played dumb.
Temporarily, at least, Ian bought it, assuming that the condoms were coming from his friends at the University of Pittsburgh. “Of course, he’s not SO naïve to think I’m not responsible at all,” Snyder says, “but as long as he can’t prove it for sure, the more frustrated he gets.”
When condoms began arriving from students at the twins’ old high school, however, Ian’s sanity cracked:
“This is exactly the sort of reaction I wanted,” Snyder says. “Ian takes the bait every time, and that’s why I enjoy doing this so much.”
Snyder established ground rules right off the bat–he did not post Ian’s address anywhere publicly, and refused to do anything that could cross the line from prank war into bullying. Each sender has to have an individual conversation with Snyder over Facebook before they have any chance of receiving Ian’s address.
“He deserves his privacy,” says Snyder. “Maybe that’s me being a little overprotective, but I couldn’t let this become a possible safety hazard.”
At present, Snyder estimates that Ian has received somewhere between twenty and thirty condoms–mostly from strangers–since mid-March. This number, however, is not high enough for Snyder’s grand machinations, and he hopes to cross into the fifties by the time he comes clean to Ian.
“I may have overestimated the number of people who would find this funny instead of awkward or uncomfortable,” Snyder admits. “I can’t hold that against anyone, but it just decreased the impact of what I at least thought was the best prank idea I’ve had to date…I’ll be done once GW students and some family members and family friends send off their condoms. I have a good feeling I’ll get the biggest representation of participants from GW.”
Snyder is gearing up for the final waves of the prank–a huge number of condoms sent from GW students, followed by a giant “box of sex toys, condom, [and] lubes,” along with a letter confessing to masterminding the plot.
“I was considering having this be my swan song prank,” says Snyder, “but I may have to come up with something to involve more people in the future. I guess we’ll find out!”
It’s not too late to get involved–email Alec Snyder at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get in on the action, send a condom, or just donate a couple bucks to cover stamps and envelopes.
I am honored to share my campus with someone so dedicated to brotherly love and ensuring safe sex at schools both near and far.
And Ian, wherever you may be–practice safe sex.
Photo Credits: Alec Snyder
Special thanks to Jamie Kleiner and the participants in Operation Typical Porch. And Ian Snyder, for being a good sport.