In fourth grade, hoping to postpone our spelling test, my classmates and I clamored to repeat a newly learned April Fool’s song. Mrs. Paulson, hugely pregnant, plucked her ukulele, burped, and began: “Look out the window, what do you see? Peaches on the apple tree. I fool you; you fool me. This is April Fool’s day.”
Does anyone get excited about April 1st anymore? Or has the fun of fooling others faded because it’s a holiday without candy or presents?
In elementary school, we expended great effort throughout the day trying to trick one another with obvious ploys: We yelled “Mildred, look out!” then shrieked with laughter when she ducked. We claimed to see spiders in hair and flies in spaghetti. We loosened lids on saltshakers and swore the principal sent us with the note telling Johnny to report to the office “imeditly.”
The only person who never fooled anyone was Laddy Swenson, who, every year, said he could see a booger in your nose.
As a teacher, I was sometimes the victim. My fourth-graders taped the button on the handset of the room phone so it didn’t pop out and connect when I answered. I yelled “hello” to a ringing phone several times before their giggles gave them away.
A sixth-grader offered me the grape juice he’d saved from his lunch. Fortunately, I spotted the purple puddle collecting in his hand from the tiny holes he’d poked in the bottom of the carton.
My ninth-grade students simultaneously dropped their books to the floor at a signal from their ringleader. I trumped them, exclaiming, “Sorry I’m late,” and dropping a dictionary.
One year, a colleague, Rich Roberts, amused the entire school with his gag. Rich epitomized professional dress and careful grooming: white shirt, coat and tie, creased slacks, polished shoes, hair only on his head, and every one in place.
The morning of April 1st, he stopped to talk with the grandmotherly school secretary after he collected his mail. In mid-chat, she reached out to perfect his splendor by removing a stray thread from his lapel. She tugged and tugged; the thread grew longer and longer; her jaw dropped.
Rich had used a needle to pull a little bit of a long thread through his lapel, letting the rest droop inside his jacket—until some helpful soul decided to remove it. All day, staff, students, and parent-helpers tried to clean him up as he laughed.
Years later, in a school hundreds of miles away, I tried the same trick. No one took the bait. Evidently a stray thread didn’t look out of place on me.
Last spring, I walked bleary-eyed from the bedroom into the kitchen just as Joel yelled, “Janet, bring something quick. I’ve spilled coffee all over the carpet.” I groped for sponges and cleansing agents, grumbled my way toward my gesticulating husband—wondering how he upended his coffee this time—and heard, “April Fool!”
On second thought, perhaps I’m grateful the April tradition has faded. I’m too old for such fun.
April Fool’s memories of your own?
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