With five brothers, I grew up the victim of more April Fool gags than I can possibly remember. There were the usual switching salt for sugar breakfast trials, the "what's thats?", the fake phone calls, and the chairs that were jerked aside just when I tried to sit . When it came right down to it, my older brothers didn't need April Fools' Day to give them an excuse to play pranks. One morning they covered a new little apple tree with big, fat cherries. They convinced a younger brother to plant his quarter in the garden to grow a money tree. They removed the peas from a carefully opened pea pod, then filled it with warm milk to seal it shut again, then gave it to me so they could laugh when the milk spilled down my shirt. One brother pinned me inside a sheet and hung me on the clothesline. They gave me sabotaged pens that dripped ink, they locked me in the outhouse, they put creepy stuff in my shoes, they glued the pages of my books together.
Is it any wonder I grew up to play a few pranks myself? I think my roommates hated me by the end of our Freshman April Fools' Day. I stayed up late after they'd all gone to bed the night before. Using a hypodermic needle, I carefully removed all the Crest toothpaste from the tubes of those roommates who used that brand of toothpaste. The next step was to mix Comet cleanser into a paste and using the same method, carefully insert the mixture back into the tubes. (One of those roommates is now a state supreme court judge in another state. I wouldn't want to land in her court!) Those were the days when young women wore girdles whether they needed one or not. A little honey carefully smeared on the toilet seat created all kinds of havoc. Everyone's bed got short-sheeted that day. And of course, I did the old sugar, salt switcheroo. Not content to make my roommates' lives miserable, I sneaked out to apply syrup to the underside of one roommate's boyfriend's car door handles.
Of course my roommates figured out I was behind the pranks and they did their best to get even, but I managed to side step each of their attempts. (I learned well from all those brothers) It wasn't until I'd been married a few months and I pulled an awful April Fool prank on my husband, that someone got even. He and I don't pull pranks on each other anymore.
I'll be the first to admit some of the pranks I played went too far as did some of my brothers', but none of those pranks resulted in anyone being hurt---annoyed, frustrated, embarrassed, yes, but hurt, no. Sadly, somewhere along the way, too many pranks have turned mean or malicious. When pranks turn into bullying or abuse, something is terribly wrong. Recently two teenage girls in separate incidents have been bullied and teased until they killed themselves. There's a sick prank going around the internet that the perpetrators probably consider as harmless as the "Is your refrigerator running?" telephone calls kids once made. Now cruel messages are left on mortuary guest message pages--anonymous of course. Have we lost track of what humor is and what it isn't? I'm beginning to think that what our world needs now is some really good humor writers. I just finished reading all of the Whitney finalists and there's only two humorous books in the lot and a few funny lines in a couple of the mysteries. With all of the serious problems in today's world, we could use a little comic relief.