Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April Fool’s Day

I never did like April Fool’s Day pranks. My friends, and even some family, always made fun of me for that. But all I saw was cruelty and disappointment.

I saw people who had money problems being told “Omigosh, it’s a winning lottery ticket!” and then their tears of joy changed to forlorn disappointment when they realized it was just a prank. I watched as insecure children were ignored as their classmates pretended not to see them as an April Fools prank and they did their best not to cry. And I’ve seen people thinking they had been given a loving gift only to open an empty box and then being laughed at for their disappointment.

Call me a grouch if you want, but the very name of the day implies a meanness – you go out of your way to make a FOOL of someone. Why? Isn’t it belittling? Yes there are comics who strive to make us laugh and they often don’t mind making themselves the center of a joke. Often we tease each other, lightheartedly and certainly with no malice. But is there really a need to scare the wits out of someone just to give yourselves a thrill? Do you really want to give someone a heart attack? Or do you really want to give them a chance to throw it right back at you and play dead until you are filled with terrible remorse?

Yes there are surprises and reactions, many times unintended, that make us laugh but not at the expense of each other. No one needs to make someone feel cheated or betrayed. No one needs to feel that they were made a fool of. There are certainly some harmless pranks and most of us can survive and even laugh like the fake snake jumping out of a can of peanuts. But there are those that have to think of ways to pull the “ultimate” prank and wind up doing harm instead. My dad was quite a prankster and some of his jokes still make me laugh, but none of those jokes were ever designed to hurt my sister or me or our feelings, and for young children feelings got damaged a lot worse than bumps and bruises.

At the risk of giving some ideas, some of the cruelest and possibly most dangerous pranks include “Ex-Lax” in a box of chocolate, hot pepper sauce in the ketchup bottle, a bug in a lunch sandwich (even worse if it’s fake and you can choke on it), a missing step, a loosened bike handlebars, an exploding ink pen that ruins a favorite outfit… Why? So yeah, I’m a grumbler about the so-called April Fool’s Day pranks because I’ve seen some of the damage some of these so-called jokes can do. And yes I was the victim of one so bad I was seriously injured (handlebars), so while I never liked the pranks before I HATED them after. Maybe the best way to surprise someone this April Fool’s Day is to do something unexpectedly nice.

No one really knows why April Fool’s Day was created. Some say it had to do with the creation of the modern day calendar and confusion as to when the New Year officially began and so, for this unknown reason folks have perpetuated this day… and maybe that is the greatest joke of them all.

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