It’s the very best day of the year. Springtime is finally here, and there’s a nothing-can-stop- me-now scent in the air. You can be as carefree and outrageous as you want to be, and all is forgiven with two simple words: April Fools!
This is the day when a young man can propose to his gal without fear of rejection or loss of dignity. A smart gal can give him an answer, too, then change her mind if necessary—all in the same day. No fussin’ or cussin’ about it.
“April Fools, honey. April Fools!”
It is a wonderful day, and it covers a multitude of sins. And pranks. And no-no’s. I have to confess that I’m the most reviled person on April the First. I am shameless and my reputation is deplorable.
For days—even weeks, beforehand—dire warnings circulate amongst my friends and family. They think they’re prepared. “Look out for you-know-who,” they say.
When the day comes, they wait expectantly—eyeing my movements with suspicion, analyzing everything I say. Suckers! They are ripe for the picking. From then on, every word I speak—innocent or not—becomes a joke in reverse.
“Oh no!” I say. “You missed mailing that important letter, and the mailman just came.”
“Ha Ha! April Fools on you, too!”
“No, really,” I say mildly, pointing out the window at the retreating mail carrier.
“It’s true. No foolin’.”
The victim is crestfallen, of course. A reverse joke is hard to take. Much worse than the real thing. It matters not how grandiose or how trivial the reverse joke is, it catches them off guard every time.
“Oh my!” I say. “Look out at the garden. The cabbage is finally sprouting.”
“Yeah, right. Tell me another one.”
“As a matter of fact,” I say, “I just heard on the news that eating cabbage may help us fight off the Bird Flu. The flu’s spreading throughout the world, you know. Some experts say when the virus mutates, it could kill off a billion people. A billion!”
“Hey! That’s nothing to joke about.”
“Who’s joking? It’s the absolute truth.”
They stare at me with a deer-caught-in-the-headlights look in their eyes. After a few more rounds of this kind of talk, they visibly begin to wilt…or else they go completely mad. Either way is fine with me. By the end of the day, they give me the what for, and then we’re all happy.
Hey! Try this sometime, will you?
Go to the store, and when the clerk isn’t looking, drop a $20 bill on the floor. “Well, looka there,” you say. “A twenty on the floor! Who could’ve dropped that?”
“Uh…” The clerk’s eyes get big and he starts patting his back pockets. “Hmmm. I think maybe…I might’ve lost that.”
“Oh yeah. I’m sure I did.”
“Well, maybe so,” you say gently, scooping the $20 bill back into your wallet. “And maybe not. Happy April Fools’ Day.”
In all the years of playing pranks, I’ve only had one of my jokes backfire on me. It was a long time ago and I don’t remember the details. I just recall getting out of my relatives’ car and walking up to the door of a house to play a wonderful prank. As soon as I knocked, the carload of hooting, tooting relatives drove off and left me sputtering on a stranger’s doorstep.
It was ingenious. I laughed harder than anybody. I’m still in awe.
No foolin’, folks…No foolin’….!