Tuesday, April 3, 2012
April Fools is as old as the Middle ages. It even predates Chaucer who discussed it in one of his tales. The holiday is actually celebrated it all over the world. The rituals are really strange in some countries, but the custom has hung on for hundreds of years.
Whatever happened to April Fools in the last decade? Has it gone the way of the dodo? When I was a kid in the 50's I used to look forward to April Fools and I had long elaborate hoaxes planned for everyone I knew from teachers to customers in my father's store. It was a break from the rational world where you had to be reasonable, honest and good in order not to be thought of as a psychopath or just a regular, not an April Fool. The best part is that people had to forgive you since it was a day of hoax. My theory is that the April Fool should be flattered that you put a little levity in their lives.
I have had a few good April Fools under my belt--mostly played on my husband who has for forty years forgotten that April 1st follows March 31st which is my birthday. One of my best was about twenty-five years ago. We had twin boys and a boy another year older. We started out with three boys under three and then it just progressed. Just when the boys reached their teenage years, the apex of horror, I decided to tell my husband I was pregnant with another set of twins as an April fools caper. I had the radiologist next door to us send an ultra sound saying that I was five months pregnant with another set of identical twin boys. When my husband opened the envelope, he fell on the floor and began screaming , "Help God Take my Kishkas, ( yiddish for guts). Take me! I can't go on." He was purple and the baby sitter took pity on him and said it was 'just' April Fools.
I just did another one this weekend. Our children are all grown up and doing well and now we get to travel and read and go to our farm on the weekends and do adult things like have cocktails. My husband has a bad habit of donating to charities that he knows little about. I have tried to break him of the habit, but part of his charm is his unbridled generosity. One of his donations was to the Big Brother's association.( honestly a great organization) On April Fools I warned him that he had not only donated to the association but had inadvertintly signed up to be a big brother. I said the mother of the boy called and he would be at our farm tomorrow morning and the first Saturday of the month forever after. His name was Matthew, he was eleven and he didn't like school but adored sports. My husband likes school related activities and does not like sports. I knew that my husband would never want to be a big brother since he already raised three boys and this was his first break; however I also knew that he was kind and and would not want to disappoint anyone. He again started screaming 'Ive had enough responsibility for a life time and I need a break.' and said he was leaving the farm that instant and got in the car. I had to block him on the road and say 'April Fools!' He wasn't happy but knowing it was April Fools he had to see some humour in it.
When I told people about my April Fools' they thought it was really weird and a tad untoward. They didn't say that but I could tell by their faces. When I was at a big party yesterday I found out that no one there had concocted an April Fools caper. What is up with that? They said that not even their children do them. One woman said she thought they were 'mean'. A teacher told me it is discouraged at school as is bullying. I understand banning bullying, but what is wrong with a little hoax as a day-off from rationality and adult responsibility one day a year for five minutes? Haven't we carried this whole empathy, earnest number way too far? We worry about being politically correct or sensitive to the point that we are tyrannized by it.
I know people think I am weird and 'over the top' but I am going to keep up April Fools even if I am the last person on earth doing it. When they cart me away in a white straight jacket screaming, 'but wait it was April Fools! I can refer them to this blog for some historical context.