All Fool’s Day

On April 1, It’s Time to Get Your Prank On



April Fool’s Day. It’s the “clever riposte” to the rest of the year’s straight-laced, serious attitude. And it’s the one day a year you can make a fool out of your friends and get away with it.

Nobody really knows how April Fool’s Day started. One legend tells of how French traditionalists were made fools of by their more enlightened counterparts when the Gregorian calendar took effect in 1582, which changed New Year’s Day from April 1 to Jan. 1. The traditionalists refused to accept the changes and were made the subject of pranks and jokes. But that theory doesn’t hold up to historical scrutiny. Another, more plausible, explanation is that it originated from an ancient European springtime festival.

Whatever the case may be, All Fool’s Day remains one of the most lighthearted “holidays.” Just keep the fun clean and appropriate, and there won’t be any problems.

Here’s what you should — and shouldn’t — do on this special day.

It’s acceptable to reset the clocks of a friend with OCD. However, rearranging a blind friend’s living room, sabotaging a walking cane and replacing an oxygen bottle with laughing gas are all no-nos.

It’s perfectly fine to fill an umbrella with paper confetti. Just don’t use scorpions. You’re going to have a bad time.

Fill a storage cabinet with ping-pong balls. Not wild animals or snakes.

For the old “rude awakening” trick, be sure to use shaving cream only. Syrup and honey should be avoided as unnecessarily messy. Curdled milk products may also be inappropriate. Along the same lines, for the “pail over the door” trick, stick to something safe like water. The use of chlorine bleach will be frowned upon.

Physical pranks aren’t your style? You think most jokes are too messy, timing-dependent and complex to pull off? Well, you can always mess with your friends using Facebook and other social media. It’s simple, and you don’t even have to go to the hardware store to get the required supplies.

Social media seems like a natural place to pull pranks on people. Facebook in particular lends itself well to this purpose, since most of what goes out to the ether is nothing but hooey and malarkey anyway. Singletons can usually get a rise out of their pals by changing their status to “Engaged” or “Married,” while Boomers could cause a stir announcing a bundle of joy on the way. If you have strong political leanings, announcing a change of party could cause some consternation. Or, post a nonsensical news item (The Onion is a good place to find these) or statement (“Nibiru is Here!” “Zombie ants headed for Florida!”) and see who falls for it.

The thing about social media is, if you put it out there on April 1, and nobody sees it right away or realizes you’re pulling a fast one, your little joke can last well beyond April Fool’s Day. It might even last up to April 15 — when the government pulls its own “All Fool’s Day” trick on you!

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