April Fool’s Day 4/1/21

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Once again, it’s the time of year of jokes and mischief. Happy April Fool’s Day, if you enjoy it. Personally, I’ve never enjoyed practical jokes. They never seem particularly practical to me. Maybe it’s because I grew up being the butt of jokes for every bully in the school. Whatever the reason, it’s personal. I know many people do enjoy them, and this is their day.

My thoughts are that practical jokes are not funny if they are meant to belittle anybody, or if they are dangerous. The bucket of whipped cream propped precariously above a door may seem funny but getting hit in the head with a bucket that’s more likely to come down on someone’s skull on edge as opposed to the open end as so often is depicted in the movies is not nearly as funny when the victim’s head is bleeding. And where’s the humor? It’s a joke so you can point and laugh at a victim because s/he is a mess when, in fact, it’s not even their fault.

And work? Why is it funny to give somebody more work? I have to admit, I do like the look of a work cubical filled with Styrofoam packing peanuts, but I often wonder if the people who loaded it stuck around to at least help to unload it. I worked at a college where the students purchased (or stole) thousands of forks to stick them in the ground in the president’s yard. That would be difficult to clean up. Just thinking about all of that bending makes my back hurt (although I’m sure the college groundskeepers ended up doing all of that work). And what happens if they meet one when a lawn mower hits it?

Sorry. Don’t mean to be a buzzkill here, but my point is that I would hope that, before my readers decide to engage in any hijinks, they give careful consideration to any danger they may be creating, or humiliation it may cause. Yes, I’m that guy.

Not that I’ve never played a practical joke. My practical jokes tend to be a little different. I had a blind date who tried to trick me with the “dollar on a string” trick. Sitting on a bench in some kind of show (I don’t remember the details), she threw the dollar behind me and informed me that I had dropped it. I looked at the dollar, and said, “nope not mine.” “But I saw it fall out of your pants.” Seriously? I’m not twelve. My money is in my wallet.

I used to do things like buy a quarter pound of jalapeno flavored jellybeans and put them on my desk in a mug. One of my favorite jokes was to steal my friend’s Vikings flag and replace it with a Bengals flag just to see how long it would take him to notice.

One of the meanest pranks I played was when I still had blood that the blood bank actually wanted. I donated regularly, so often, in fact, that they came to know me pretty well. One day I showed up to donate blood, and the lead nurse told me that they had a brand-new phlebotomist who had been through all of the training and done very well but has yet to poke an actual human being. She asked if I would be willing to be her first which, of course I was. She did everything beautifully. Under the direct supervision of the head nurse, she found my vein, disinfected, and inserted the needle. We were in a very small private room and my paperwork was on a bench behind her, so to make her note, she had to turn her back to me. As soon as her back was turned, I said “is it supposed to turn this color?” You could see her shoulders raise to her ears as she tensed up in fear. I still feel guilty about this.

In class, many years ago when people were transitioning to cell phones but landlines and answering machines were still common, I postponed class for a joke. I pretended to be on my cell phone, and I told my class I was just waiting for my answering machine to pick up. Suddenly, I shouted, “BELLA! NO! BAD DOG! SIT! SIIIT!!!!” and hung up. To this day one of those students still believes I was actually doing that. To be fair, I did periodically call the answering machine and spoke to my dog, but it was never mean spirited. I wonder what she thought.

So, be safe, be sane, be FUN!

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