April 1. AKA: April Fool’s Day. For almost as long as I can remember, I have hated April Fool’s Day. Well, perhaps “hate” is too strong a word. But I really very strongly dislike April Fool’s Day. I just find the idea of a day set aside specifically to play tricks on people distasteful.
This is simply an extension of my dislike of pranks, jokes, and teasing in general. Sure, some say “it’s all in good fun.” I’ve even been asked to tease someone more because in their mind it is a way of showing affection. I disagree. I don’t find it funny or affectionate to call people names, poke them about their age, or put them in a position to be embarrassed or laughed at. I find it hurtful and mean. Call me too sensitive if you like; it wouldn’t be the first time.
Growing up, I was often the “victim” of April Fool’s jokes and pranks. None of them were permanently scarring. In fact I don’t really remember any particular example. While I’m sure I did (and do) tend a touch towards naïve, I didn’t “fall for it” because I didn’t understand or because I was too gullible, it was because I was too trusting. I trusted the people around me not to try to deceive or make fun of me. I’ve mostly learned to shrug it off, now that I’m older. I’m sure there are people close to me who would be surprised to know that I do not now and never will like to be teased and laughed at.
The internet has added a new twist to the whole April Fool’s Day dynamic. Some of it is funny – and I really don’t mind if it is obvious that it couldn’t be true. But I find it maddening when reputable websites put out fully written articles that turn out to be April Fool’s hoaxes. There were quite a few of them today, most of which I spotted pretty quickly. But it also caused me to disbelieve everything that was posted today. There are a couple of items I saw in my feed that I hope are true, but because they appeared today I doubt them.
All of the above is just compounded by an event that I wish could be unique to me and my family, but I am sure others have experienced. In 1991, on the first day of Spring break, my dad passed away. It happened to be April 1. All by itself, this would not make me dislike the date in particular (I have no hard feelings towards the date my mom passed away). But in the course of calling friends and family to let them know our sad news that day, some of them actually believed we were playing an April Fool’s prank. Struggling with our own shock and grief, we had to get them to stop laughing and convince them it was true.
Now, I’m not saying here that we should go on some “Down with April Fool’s Day” or “No More Friendly Teasing or Joking” crusade. I’m just saying I’m not crazy about it, and I’ve seen more than a few people today who agree with me. I think in general we should try to be aware that not everyone has the same sense of humor. If someone isn’t laughing at your April Fool’s joke, there may be a reason why.
When this morning’s April Fool’s pranks started accosting me before I even got out of bed (a certain Tolkien fan-site posted at least 2 April Foolish articles before 5:30 am), I considered revenge against all those who have tricked or fooled me in the past. I even came up with a list of possibilities:
- I’m engaged!
- My book is going to be published!
- I’m moving back home to W. Michigan!
- I cut my hair!
- I signed up for a 5K!
- I quit my job!
After these few, things started to go down a slightly darker path, so I stopped trying to come up with more. In the end, I decided against vengeance and chose to try to ignore it all, and not fall for any of it. I am glad to report that the day is almost over and so far I have been successful.
PS – One item on the list above is true. Maybe. Or maybe not.