Every year on April Fool’s Day, my dad tells a lie. Of course on that particular day of the year, we don’t call them lies. We call them “jokes” or “pranks.” This technicality in nomenclature is supposed to annul the victim’s anger, deflate it like a red balloon.
“Can’t you take a joke?” the perpetrator asks.
You can’t say no because that would be the same as saying you take yourself too seriously. In our blasé culture of go with the flow being uptight is a worse accusation than being insensitive. Being uptight is the epitome of UNCOOL. We’re allowed any feeling except righteous indignation.
Unless we’re indignant about ecological catastrophes, natural disasters, or hungry, thirsty children, we’re not allowed to hold anything sacred or to have boundaries or modesty that label other people’s behavior as inappropriate or offensive.
Rather than apologize, the person responsible offers a flimsy justification: “It was only a joke!” You may as well tell bees that you mean them no harm; you just want their honey. Humor at another person’s expense is sweet until you get stung.
Experience tells me that men disregard one another’s feelings more often than women, and thus find themselves in position of needing to make amends. Most men struggle to make amends for hurting a friend’s feelings or even just pissing him off with a stupid prank. Hurt feelings bewilder and embarrass them, and in the midst of that confusion they default to self-defense, making with passive aggressive excuses for their actions.
“Dude, have a sense of humor. It was only a joke.”
“So you’re suggesting that because I got upset when you put a dead fish in my car while I was on vacation that I don’t have a sense of humor and can’t take my own medicine? That I am somehow immature?”
My Family’s Warped Sense of Humor
Thankfully, I grew up with two sisters and no brothers. I had to learn that if I punched Laura and she said, “Ow, that hurt!” I couldn’t say, “No, it didn’t,” even if I hadn’t hit her that hard.
April Fool’s jokes taught us all to have a sense of humor, albeit a warped one. One year, my parents told Laura, who was eight days away from her sixteenth birthday, to go out and look in the driveway. She expected to find her new car but she found nothing.
My dad would agree that that one was a mistake. “April Fool’s!” didn’t remove the sting of disappointment.
Last year, my older sister sent out an email saying that she was pregnant. I swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. I think she felt bad after I left a message saying I’d be praying for her and Jim and God wouldn’t bring another child into the world without helping them to provide for it.
You’d think I would have learned my lesson by now, but when I received this email from my dad last Friday, I immediately started dreaming how to make it work: $50 per person per day for a Mediterranean cruise? We’d be stupid not to go! After all, my parents really are going on the cruise, and Libya really is experiencing deep civil unrest. Every good lie—oxymoron?—contains truth.
Auto-Owners Insurance, the insurance company sponsoring our cruise, sent out an email today. They said because of the unrest in the Mediterranean area and Libya in particular, they have had a large number of cancellations for our specific cruise. Because they’ll lose a large part of their deposit, they’re going to offer to agency owners who qualified, the opportunity to take family members on the same cruise for $ 1000 per couple. Not bad for a 10 day cruise! However, Pop and Kiki will not be funding this! So, if you have an interest and can go from May 5 to May 15, better let me know and get me your $ 1000. I will not be advancing the $ 1000! Dad
What’s the best April Fool’s joke you have pulled off or heard about? Or were you, like me, the fool?