No joke: April Fool's Day - FamilyEducation

No joke: April Fool's Day

April 01,2008
I remember loving April Fool’s Day as a kid. I couldn’t wait to play some joke on my mom, dad, brother, friends, or the dog. (Hey, I was young. I didn’t know she didn’t understand.) Whether it was feigning being sick, or telling my parents that some strange thing happened at school (“…and then they had to evacuate us and the Army came and then the FBI and then the fire department and then Mrs. Brown was taken away in a limousine…”), I loved the idea of April Fool’s Day.

As I got older, and the jokes could become more elaborate (“…deliver $10 million in unmarked bills if you ever hope to see your pet Chihuahua again…”), April Fool’s morphed from something playful to something bordering on mean. Sure, the jokes were always played on unsuspecting, yet friendly victims…but victims they were.

Now, I sort of just don’t get it. Perhaps it’s because my priorities have changed (with parenting, or even before), but the novelty has certainly worn off. I have a friend whose wife has a long tradition of continuing the practical jokes. Even as a mom, she has continued to attempt to sucker my friend into her web of lies (since that’s what April Fool’s is all about – lying and trying to make someone feel like an idiot). But, one year she went too far when she told my friend that their kids were sick and in the hospital. Needless to say, my buddy went nuts. When April Fool’s Day starts taking a toll on the marriage – you know something’s wrong.

And maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s just that we reach a certain age when we finally realize that making people feel bad just isn’t fun. I have a wicked sarcastic vein pumping through my body. And, for the longest time, I masked whatever insecurities I had by making fun of others – all in the name of sarcasm (“…oh, come on, man! You know I’m just kidding!”). Well, even if my target knew I was kidding, I still didn’t make him/her feel all that good about him/herself.

It’s amazing how cognizant and hypersensitive I am to these kinds of comments and jokes now. G-d knows it’s not that I’ve become overly PC – nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just that, as my friend (the one with the mean wife) says, “It’s just not funny if the victim’s completely not playing, or hasn’t done something to deserve it.” (Sure, the interpretation of “deserving” is open for interpretation, but I get his gist. Eliot Spitzer? He deserves everything coming his way!)

Sarcasm, practical jokes and simply making fun have been passed down from generation to generation in my family. And, I’m happy to pass it along to K-Man, but with rules. It’s important for him to understand sarcasm and be able to joke and play jokes on/with your friends in the right context. The world is far too serious a place already. We’ve got safe sex. How about safe joking? It might not be quite as satisfying, but damn…it’s still fun! And, we all know it’s better than nothing!

The good news is that April Fool’s Day does seem to have taken a bit of a hit this year. I haven’t heard much about it. What I have heard  has been disparaging, including one great idea from a radio personality, “Today is March 32nd. Tomorrow is April 2nd. We’re just going to skip that idiocy.” I like that idea. No kidding.