April Schoolin’

I might as well put this right out front: I don’t like April Fools’ Day. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to humor, and usually consider practical jokes to be the bottom of the barrel. Surprised? Yeah, I get that a lot. People expect me to be a fan, which is probably why I hate them to begin with.

It’s happened all my life. School, church, work…wherever. Whenever someone’s been victimized by an anonymous prank, all eyes turn to me. It must be Dan, because he has a sense of humor. Sorry, but those two don’t necessarily mix. Pranks and practical jokes aren’t usually funny, and funny people don’t always feel the need to engage in them.

I’m not trying to say I’m a funny person, but that’s usually what people are saying about me when they accuse me of being the prankster. Nor am I trying to say that practical jokes are always bad; I’m not a complete snob, just a bit of one. I admit there are times when a prank is really the only way to respond to a certain situation. To wit:

"I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part."

But I loathe the idea that April 1 is such a situation. Why does everyone feel they have to fool somebody today? And why do they take such great pleasure in having put one over on a trusting soul? The logic behind that is beyond me — you told me a lie and I believed you, so I’m the one who looks bad? How do you figure? If only a fool would believe you, what does that say about you?

A good prank has its place, and should be used for vengeance only. Or to teach someone a lesson. I had to resort to such a prank at 7:00 this morning. The boys had barely been out of bed for ten minutes, but they’d already pulled countless “jokes” on me. Most of these consisted of them saying something either outrageously or banally false — such as “It’s snowing outside” or “We’re out of milk” — then shouting “April Fool!” before I even had a chance to say I didn’t believe them. It was time for a lesson.

While they sat conspiring at the breakfast table, I discreetly pulled out my mobile phone and dialed our home number. They looked up when the phone rang, so I knew I had their attention as I answered it.

“Hello?” I listened for a moment, then pulled the receiver from my mouth. “Hey, it’s a recorded announcement from your school!”

I really had their attention now. I feigned listening intently.

“Oh, my gosh, a pipe burst last night!” Their eyes went wide.

“Wow, they’re cancelling school today!” Their faces lit up as they jumped out of their chairs to do a celebratory dance. Kim scowled at me as if to ask how long I was going to let this continue before dashing their hopes.

“April Foooooools!” They stopped cold, whipped their heads around and looked at me with mouths agape.

In unison, they screamed, “Dad! That was mean!”

“Duly noted. Now stop trying to fool the master, and eat your breakfast. You have to leave in ten minutes.”

They didn’t pull another prank on me — not during those ten minutes, not for the entire evening after they came home from school. So maybe I like April Fools’ jokes a little bit, after all. But only when necessary.

I just hope they forgive me before Father’s Day.

About Dan Bain

Dan is an award-winning humorist, features writer, emcee and entertainer from Raleigh, NC. His collection of humor essays, A Nay for Effort, has earned him fans from one end of his couch to the other. Why not join them and buy one? (You won't have to sit on his couch.) Dan will donate 10 percent of the book's proceeds to education. You can check it out at www.danbain.net; thanks!
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