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Mount Creative Writers


Kelly Conroy
MSM Class of 2013

(4/2011) On March 20th, springtime officially begins, and with the new season comes warmer air, brighter colors, and new life. Just twelve days into spring, the excitement of this time is especially evident.

An alarm clock ring announces your arousal from bed and morning shower. Today is just a normal Friday before school. The only problem is that none of the shampoo will come out of the bottle. You close and open the top again, and shake the shampoo. Perhaps the bottle is empty? No. You’re conscious enough to realize that the bottle is still heavy enough to be about half full. Putting the bottle back on the shelf in frustration, you rinse your hair with water and get on with the day.

But the day cannot be started without first getting dressed. Opening the top drawer in your dresser, with which you are very familiar, you grab a sweater instead of the pants you were expecting. You could have sworn that you always keep your pants in the top drawer. "Oh well," you think to yourself, "sometimes you can place things in the wrong spots."

Then, orange juice pours out of the milk bottle. Your raisin bran cereal definitely has chocolate chips instead of raisins. And turning on the sink faucet, you get sprayed with a stream of water because someone has put a rubber band around it to force the water to go through the sprayer instead of the faucet. Your shirt is soaked and you finally remember that it is April 1, 2011.

For some of us, April Fools’ Day is stumbled upon, while for others it is an opportunity to play practical jokes on family, friends, and even strangers. Not being able to shampoo our hair in the morning, or having to eat chocolate chips instead of raisins in our cereal, can be found humorous upon immediate discovery, or upon later reflection. Getting our clothes soaked may not ever be funny. It is this kind of trick that sometimes calls us to action.

April 2nd might as well be called "National Revenge Day." How many of us have forgotten about the baby powder that filled our hair dryer or the hidden alarm clock that went off every hour during our sleep by the next day? No, we usually want to play a prank in return, similar or maybe worse, on our jokester. We want to prove to our friend that we really are more creative, and that they will pay a penalty for inflicting these annoyances upon us. A prime example of this is on college campuses. Groups of friends can easily gang together to take all of the furniture out of another group of friends’ apartment. The next day, the other apartment will not only be missing all of its furniture, but there will also be saran wrap on the toilet seat and garlic salt in the toothpaste. Prank wars can wage for years.

There’s a very good chance that these harmless tricks will be forgotten at some point – at least until the next April Fools’ Day rolls around and we remember the previous year’s jokes. A few tomfooleries, however, have been so outstanding that they are not so easily forgotten.

What happened when a famous fast food chain—none other than the infamous Taco Bell—claims, via a full page advertisement in The New York Times in 1996, that the company has purchased the Liberty Bell in order to reduce the country’s debt, and has renamed it the "Taco Liberty Bell?" People believed the advertisement.

In 1962, thirty-four years before the Taco-Bell scheme, people in Sweden were fooled with technology. There was only one TV channel in the country at this time and it aired only in black and white. On April Fools’ Day, a technical expert appeared on the news and gave instructions on how to cover the TV screen with a nylon stocking in order to produce color images. The thousands of people who followed this tip did not receive color programs until color broadcasts began in 1970. Just to keep the humorous spirit alive in Sweden, this beginning of color programming was on April 1, 1970.

The "Great Comic Strip Switcheroonie" was as funny as its name sounds. In the April 1, 1997 edition of an American newspaper, forty-six comic strips looked different than usual. The artists had worked together to write each other’s strips and so characters were all mixed up. The result was hilarious: Family Circus suddenly had corporate cynicism in which the mother told her child to "work cuter, not harder," (since it was written by the writer of Dilbert); Garfield was seen eating a Dagwood sandwich from Blondie.

Another classic April Fools’ Day joke was the pronouncement made by This Day Tonight news program that Australia was switching to metric time. There would be 100 seconds in a minute, 100 minutes in the hour, and 20-hour days. Frustrated viewers called the show with questions and complaints, such as the trouble with switching a newly purchased digital watch to this new system.

We are not always on our guard for deception, and even if something sounds outstanding, it could still be true in our 21st century world. We live in a time in which we have traveled to the moon, chatted with people on the other side of the globe, and explored the deep caves of the sea. We have interesting looking animals with trunks, hamburgers at our immediate access, and athletes being paid millions of dollars to play a sport every year. Nothing seems too impossible to believe.

But let’s be honest. Perhaps we fall into April Fools’ Day traps because we 1) forget the date or 2) take ourselves a little too seriously. The former is solved simply by setting a reminder on the calendar of your iPhone or Droid. The latter is a little more difficult to overcome. The English author G.K. Chesterton once deemed, "Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly." We are serious people, and often believe as fact everything that we hear and see. Are we able to laugh in our 21st century world and not be so serious about ourselves? If we relaxed and did not stress ourselves, maybe we could "fly" like the angels, that is, not be weighed down by our own selves.

So the question is "Will you be participating in this year’s Fools’ day?" The name of the day could seem derogatory. We could be associated with fools if we participate in the festivities. I would suggest that we are fools, whether or not we engage in trick playing. Sometimes people are called fools for appreciating a children’s game or for square dancing, but really they are transformed into fools by being afraid of making fools of themselves.

Once we realize that we are fools, we can look around us and find other fools. Chesterton claimed about friendship, "There are a good many fools who call me a friend, and also a good many friends who call me a fool." Chesterton points out a type of fool who imagines friendship without really knowing the other person. Then, Chesterton praises his true friends for calling him a fool. They know Chesterton well enough to realize that he does not fit into the mold in society in some way. Chesterton believes that our true friends know that we are fools, but accept us anyway. In fact, our friends are willing to become fools with us.

The decision to be foolish could actually be more important than we think. If we think that we know everything, we are really fooling ourselves. Only God, whose "foolishness is wiser than man’s wisdom" can make such a lofty claim (1 Cor. 1:25). We might look like a fool when we stand up for a friend who is being made fun of, but in the end we have been a good friend. We might seem foolish for training in a sport every day, but we will experience the satisfaction that comes with hard work. No one who makes funny faces to encourage a baby to laugh should be called foolish.

Throughout history, there have been multiple noteworthy "fools," people who were able to make a difference in society by sticking out from the crowd. Thomas Edison did not think himself a fool for trying for the 6,000th time to find a fiber that would work for a light bulb. He worked for over two years on this experiment that eventually gave us one of the greatest inventions. His perseverance was definitely not foolish.

After escaping from slavery, Frederick Douglass protested the awful treatment of African Americans in the United States in the 1800s. He became a leader of the abolitionist movement through his speaking and writing. Many people thought that his efforts were useless, but this fool is known as a hero for equality.

Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity religious order, gave up over forty-five years of her life in service to the poorest of the poor in the streets of Calcutta. She cared for the most neglected in society – the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying. None of the people whom she served would think that she was foolish in loving them.

Let us consider all of the stories we have just shared, and for this April 1st, let us all make fools of ourselves in one way or another. Happy April Fools’ Day!

Read other articles by Kelly Conroy