Editor’s Note: Because I’ve been laid up in a hospital
the last couple of days (broke my hip) I pulled this oldy but goody column
from the vault.
BY MIKE WILCOX
Saturday will be April Fools’ Day. It is also thebirthday of a good friend, actually her 80th. I can only imagine what it was like growing up with a birthday on April Fool’s. The incessant teasing and tomfoolery displayed towards her was sometimes funny, but often cruel. We all step over the line sometimes. When I was young and beginning my newspaper career, my staff published an April Fools’ front page for several years. It was a big hit among our readers. However we had to discontinue the project when one not-so-funny article was deemed libelous by a humorless politician, who threatened to sue without an apology.
We provided the apology and discontinued the annual issue — partly because I was not interested in a lawsuit, but more importantly because the Internet, Facebook and fake news were born, and it was difficult for us to out-ridiculous the ridiculous. In other words, truth became stranger than fiction and our funny, made-up stories were being outdone by those you could read on the Internet. Who came up with this semi-holiday anyway? I did some checking and no one seemed to know. Here are some best guesses:
• April Fools’ Day derived from ancient Roman and Hindu cultures when April 1 was the beginning of the new year and a time of celebration and revelry.
• In 1582 Pope Gregory Xlll issued the Gregorian calendar which officially moved New Year’s Day to April 1. Those who didn’t comply were considered fools.
• A more plausible scenario is that April Fools” Day is related to the vernal equinox or the beginning of spring, when Mother Nature plays sudden weather tricks on all of us.
In any case, the custom of April Fools’ was brought to the United States from Britain many centuries ago. It is celebrated in most European countries as well and parts of the world. Did you know the pranksters shout April Fool as they reveal a joke? In England, jokes can only be played until noon. If someone plays a joke afterwards they are considered the April Fool. Did you know on April 1, 2015, the U.S. Army printed an article about drones that would deliver pizzas to soldiers across the world? It claimed the pizzas would be made to order and have a shelf life of up to three years. Of course it was a joke. Did you know on the same day Honda introduced the HR-V Selfie Edition? The car featured 10 interior and exterior cameras that allowed the driver to snap selfies. Alas it wasn’t true, just a joke.
These elaborate schemes may be beyond your abilities and scope, but if you have the desire to fool your friends, here are some ideas.
• Glue a quarter to the floor. You don’t know how many times someone will stoop down to pick up one. They will usually walk past a penny or nickel, but a quarter? That’s big money. Watch as they try several ways to pick it up. April Fools’!
• Change the chocolate sauce bottle to another condiment: soy or barbecue sauce are good replacements. Watch as your friend pours it on their favorite ice cream flavor. Gotcha!
• One of the oldest but funniest pranks is to cover a co-worker’s desk with sticky notes. It’s even better if you write things on each of them. Watch as your co-worker returns from lunch to his or her desk. His/her facial expression will make everyone laugh. April Fools’!
However you choose to observe the day, have fun and make sure you have a smile on your face. Life is too short to do otherwise.