april fools’ day
April Fools’ Day has long been a day to play practical jokes on friends and family, and most of us have taken part in the practice each year. The key to April Fools’ Day is when you get to see the look on your “victim’s” face. This year, it seems that a virus had the best joke…for lack of a better phrase for it, because there is nothing funny about COVID19. The virus has wreaked havoc on the world. And now it’s April Fools’ Day, and most of the United States citizens have been told to distance themselves from each other. On April Fool’s Day, that is a cruel joke.
April Fools’ Day pranks don’t really work well by phone, email, or text, although I suppose that, to a degree, Skype or Facetime would allow the prankster to see the face of their victim. Still, part of the fun is more than just their face. A perfect April Fools’ Day joke produces more than just a shocked face, the body language is a part of it too. My family loved April Fools’ Day pranks, and while the jokes varied, going from the typical childlike jokes, like trying to convince our sisters that they had a spider on them, when they were old enough to know that it was an April Fool’s Day joke. If they were feeling generous, they might pretend to be scared, but that reaction was usually reserved for the youngest sister at the time. The rest of us had to step up our game. Somehow, I just can’t imagine any of those jokes working very well by text. I wouldn’t even know how to set it up from that distance.
This year, with “social distancing” as a new part of our reality, the joke appears to be on the pranksters. Oh I might be able to prank my husband…and I probably will, because let’s face it, he’s here, and I am a prankster…and he is pretty much the only “victim” available. Yes, April Fools’ Day pranks will be much different this year, but in light of the fact that we all have cabin-fever, maybe some creative pranking is just the think we all need. So…prank it up all you dedicated April Fools’ Day pranksters. We must never give up without a fight!!
April Fools Day…a day of shenanigans. As children, we made up simple tricks, that didn’t fool our parents, and might not have even fooled our siblings. I remember telling my sisters that there was a spider in their hair, or some such silliness. That worked for a short time, but then you have to get creative. Things like switching the salt and sugar became common jokes to us. Eventually, we learned to taste a little bit, before we used it liberally on our food…yuck!!
As we get older, we have to get far more creative with our shenanigans, because lets face it, adults aren’t going to go for the spider in your hair gag. They know what day it is too. April Fools Day pranks have to be carefully planned out, and they have to be such that they do no harm, because that would not be what it is all about. Of course, there could always be the unplanned, unforeseen problem with reversing the prank, that could backfire, but hopefully the people you prank are good sports about things, who know that it could have happened to them too.
It would seem that some of the best pranks these days are tech pranks. There are a variety of ways to “mess with” someone’s computer, making them think that it has gone crazy. A simple placement of tape over the mouse sensor will make the computer appear frozen. You can change the language on the computer too, but as I found out from personal experience, this can be difficult to reverse, if you change it to a language you can’t read…yikes!! I think my personal favorite is to flip the screen, so that everything is upside down. And that one is simple to reverse, so no harm…no foul. Of course, there are many low tech ways to “mess with” a computer too, like covering it and everything else in the office in newspaper, or filling the room with balloons, so that the only way in is to pop them. I think office pranks are a natural way to expand your prank playing game into new vistas. Plus, they are really fun when the people you prank are just stunned. Happy April Fools Day everyone!! The day to prank or be pranked. Let the fun begin.
Most of us think of April 1st as April Fools Day…a day recognized all over the world as a day set aside to pull pranks, hoaxes, and practical jokes on your friends neighbors and co-workers. I can remember many pranks pulled by my sisters, my parents, and me over the years. But, not everything that happens on April 1st can be considered a funny joke…as was the case on April 1, 1946, when a 7.4 magnitude earthquake was recorded in the North Pacific Ocean off of Unimak Island. The island is a part of the Aleutian chain in Alaska. When the earthquake struck, in the middle of the night, 13,000 feet beneath the surface of the ocean, a devastating tidal wave immediately hit the nearest land…Unimak Island. The wave estimated at 100 feet high, crashed into a lighthouse located 30 feet above sea level, where a five people lived. The lighthouse was smashed and the people living inside were killed instantly. They had no warning of impending disaster and death.
The Wave then headed toward Hawaii, at 500 miles an hour. Hawaii was 2,400 miles south of the epicenter. Captain Wickland of the United States Navy spotted the coming wave at about 7am…four and a half hours after the quake. Wickland’s position on the bridge was 46 feet above sea level, and he said he was eye level with a “monster wave” that was two miles long. I can only imagine how he must have felt looking at that wave. The word helpless is the first word to come to my mind. As the wave came into Hilo Bay, the water first receded, leaving ships on the sea floor beside fish flopping in the sand. Then, the tsunami struck full force. The wave was 32 feet high, and it completely destroyed about a third of the city. The Wailuku River bridge was picked up and relocated 300 feet from it’s original position. In Hilo, 96 people lost their lives. Other parts of Hawaii were hit by waves up to 60 feet. In Laupahoehoe, a schoolhouse was crush, killing the teacher and 25 students. The tsunami was seen as far away as Chili, where unusually high waves crashed ashore 18 hours after the earthquake hit. There were no casualties were reported there.
The tsunami brought to light a need for some kind of a warning system. The warning system, called the Seismic SeaWave Warning System was established two years later. It is now known as the Pacific Tsunami Warning System, and it uses undersea buoys throughout the ocean, along with seismic activity detectors to predict killer waves. The system is still in use, and has warned many people in time to get to safety. Nevertheless, on its first use…November 4, 1952, the people evacuated successfully, but the wave never materialized. I suppose that could have been listed as a successful failure, but in that case, it wasn’t about whether or not the wave came, but rather, if it did, that the people were safely away. A system like this one can’t save everyone. I’m sure that some waves just get to land too quickly, but every life saved matters. The April Fools Day tsunami was on April 1st, but no one would call it a joke… and that’s for sure.
April Fools’ Day has been around for a long time. In 1700 English pranksters popularized the tradition of playing practical jokes on each other. Some people say that it actually started in 1582 when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as mandated by the Council of Trent in 1563. At that point, people who didn’t get on board with the change, and continued to celebrate the new year during the last week of March through April 1, were laughed at and made fun of, as being gullible.
When I was a kid, my sisters and I took great pleasure trying to fool each other. We tried everything from saying they had a spider in their hair to switching the salt and sugar in the containers. Most of the time they were not fooled, but every once in a while, we were rewarded with a completely shocked sister, or even one who screamed. Historians mentioned things like dressing up in disguises or even that the weather got involved in the whole thing, by the unpredictability of the changing season. I think most of us have been fooled by that one, because we dress warmly in the morning and find ourselves too hot later on, or vise versa. Of course, the weather never sticks to just one day.
During the 18th century, April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain. In Scotland the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands. Gowk is a word for cukoo bird, which is the symbol of a fool. The second day was Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them. I’m beginning to think my sisters and I weren’t very inventive.
These days people have really ramped up the process by using newspapers, radio, TV stations, and web sites to report outrageous fictional claims to fool their audiences. According to History.com, “In 1957, the BBC reported that Swiss farmers were experiencing a record spaghetti crop and showed footage of people harvesting noodles from trees; numerous viewers were fooled. In 1985, Sports Illustrated tricked many of its readers when it ran a made-up article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour. In 1996, Taco Bell, the fast-food restaurant chain, duped people when it announced it had agreed to purchase Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and intended to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell. In 1998, after Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper,” scores of clueless customers requested the fake sandwich.”
People are gullible, and some people have a mind that can easily come up with outrageous things. If you are the former type of person, today is going to be a day filled with pranks, because gullible people are well known to those who play on that gullibility. And if you are that prankster, today is your day. Happy April Fools’ Day!! Let the pranking begin, and the gullible people beware!!