What a fool am I!
I am not posting an April Fool’s Day joke1816!
1. Yes, it is April the first, and I have been known to do foolish things, but April Fool’s Day jokes tend to backfire more often than they hit. At least when done on private blogs and other social media2.
2. Not to mention real life. Like the one an acquaintance once told me about back in the days when people talked on phones instead of using them to take videos. One of her co-workers came back from lunch on April Fool’s day to find a note3 in unfamiliar handwriting that said a hospital had called about her kid while she was out. The poor woman was soon frantic as she couldn’t get hold of her children5, or anyone else who knew what was happening. No one in the office knew who had taken the message and hadn’t written down the call back number6. Because the first moment her co-workers knew about it was when she, in full panicked-mom mode, asked them if they had taken the message. So everyone else in the office, being normal humans with normal empathy, were trying to figure out how to find out which of her children it was and where the kid was. No one7 even considered that it might just be a joke. The asshole finally confessed after the woman had been reduced to tears and most of the workplace had become involved in calling all the hospitals and such they could.
3. If you’re old enough you will remember those pink pre-printed pads that every office place had. The pre-printed party, “While You Were Out” in big letters at the top, and the rest was a form for filling in who had called, the call-back number, what time the message arrived, and so forth. Every office and most desks had those pads on them. Most people, if they used them at all, scribbled down a few words in the message section but otherwise left most of the blanks empty. This was from the era before voice mail4.
4. For over twenty years I worked at a company whose primary products were voice messaging servers and related messaging products. The first years I was working there, most of the world didn’t understand the system at all, and those that did talked about how much they hated them. I can’t tell you how many times one of my aunts would tell me, every time she saw me, how much she hated “talking to a machine!”
5. As I said, this was a few decades ago. So mobile phones were either the size of a toaster or had to be wired into your car to work, and the only people who owned them were either the super wealthy or sales & marketing douche-bags.
6. Except, of course, the asshole who had pulled the “joke.”
7. Again, other than the asshole.
8. It is stories like this that make me very reluctant to even try to concoct an April Fool’s Day joke9.
9. I have done a few. In college as member of the editorial board of two different campus papers, I helped produce a few April Fool’s Day editions. On my old LiveJournal I am still rather proud of the post I wrote explaining why I had decided to become a Gay Republican and start actively working to oppress myself10. I also thought the one about Michael and I deciding to get rid of the 6000+ books in our house was a good one12.
If I were to do an April Fool’s Day post17, I would adhere to the following rules:
- I plan it out in advance, giving myself time to edit it a time or two before it is posted.
- The topic is not something that will make people worry (nothing about fake injuries or illness, not pretending to be angry at my friends, anything like that)13
- The butt of the joke needs to be me14
10. Despite working hard to choose something I figured couldn’t possibly scare someone, the opening sentence of the Gay Republican joke made one friend think that Michael and I were breaking up. Which was very upsetting to her11.
11. As I said at the time, it would have been damn upsetting to me!
12. Which caused another of our friends to really freak out. I think it was the bit where, after describing us taking multiple car loads to all the second hand book stores until they refused to take any more, and then renting a truck to take a load to Goodwill, that when Goodwill refused the second truck load, we hauled all the remaining truck loads to a recycler.
13. The point of a joke is to make people laugh. If they aren’t laughing, it isn’t funny.
14. If you make people laugh at someone else, you’re going to hurt that person’s feelings, as well as the feelings of anyone who cares for that person15.
15. Which is an asshole move.
16. I am fond of a well-crafted April Fool’s news story. Among my favorites:
NPR: Portable Zip Codes
Garden News: Dinosaur vine
17. Which I’m not, as stated at the beginning of this post18.
18. Footnotes are too serious to be considered a joke19.
19. Obviously! Footnotes should only be used for serious purposes20, and never, ever, for anything silly22.
20. And only by serious people21!
21. Which I always am, of course.
22. And never, ever for April Fool’s Day23.
23. I hope your day holds only good news, and good laughs!