A Day In April: Fool Me Once

Ahh, April first.

You’d probably think today would be my Christmas, New Year’s, and Fourth of July rolled into one.

Alas, the best I could come up with today was adding yet another day to a leap year.

It's not a total lie...
Why should February always get the extra day?

I sat down for a few minutes this evening and started thinking about all of the elements that would have to converge to create the perfect prank. I’ve come up with three. Now, I said nothing about it being an April Fools’ Day prank–just a perfect prank.

Here we go…

Element No. 1: The Element of Surprise.

Most people with a healthy sense of self-preservation and a slight touch of paranoia will be on the lookout for pranks occurring on April 1. This heightened level of awareness creates more suspicion. More suspicion leads to more questioning. More questioning leads to more thwarted plans. Even the most methodical prankster can stumble when someone asks a few too many questions. In order to pull off the perfect prank, you must have the element of surprise on your side.

On April 1, people are expecting a prank.

Too predictable.

I contend that the pranksters among us choose a date in which people have become complacent. Think about it. April 1 passes…and nothing happens.

“No one got me this year! Ha!”

April 8, 9, 10…nothing…and you’re starting to believe that you will escape April without falling victim to a prank from a friend.

“Golly, it’s April 11 and no one has tried to play a joke on me this month. I’m really not sure why I was thinking of this in the first place since April Fools’ Day was way back at the beginning of the month. I should probably be thinking of other more pressing matters in my life right now. How obscure of me.”

For the perfect prank, I’d like to suggest April 15.


Well, why not? It’s still April, so you could (very) technically call it an “April Fools'” joke. And everyone’s paranoia is focused elsewhere on April 15…for a different reason. That, in turn, brings me to…

Element No. 2: The Element of Realism.

Ladies and gentlemen, what happens on April 15? Yup, you got it. The taxman cometh. April 15 is a day just begging for a little lighthearted humor which could easily be set in situations realistic enough to make for a great prank.

Just one note of warning, though. Make sure the friend on the receiving end of the prank is healthy enough to withstand a joke of financial proportions.

And that leads to…

Element No. 3: The Element of Being Fun Without Crossing The Line Into Cruelty.

Honestly, does this one really need to be discussed? Be funny, be creative, but, in the words of Elvis Presley, “Don’t be cruel.”

Of course, now that I’ve put this in writing, I’ve probably rendered the “Element of Surprise” obsolete. So, I suppose it’s back to the drawing board.

Therefore, I bid you a good day, and my wish for all you pranksters out there is that your future pranks are perfectly crafted in good fun.

An Observation: “Generic” Names

I wrote a previous post in which I referred to two childhood chums by using rather generic names: Chris and Johnny.

Later, I had a few thoughts about “generic” names.

You probably know someone named Chris. You probably know someone named Johnny.

Using very common names as “generic” names really isn’t the greatest idea. Sure, they’re “generic,” but, statistically, you will eventually use a name that inadvertently identifies a person (whether they are actually part of the story or not). Even in this era of instant communication and the quest for viral fame, some people just might not like the idea of being the subject of a story.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to try to avoid overly generic common proper names in the future.

Some generic names for products don't translate very well. I was very disappointed in this one.
I suppose this isn’t exactly a “generic” name. My new Eye Pad doesn’t even need a charger.

I’ve decided that once I start thinking about anecdotes, I should go ahead and give each person a less-than-common-yet-very-common “generic” name.


That’s right. If I’m writing about a childhood friend in an anecdote, they could be renamed “Person” simply because…well, it’s the truth.

But, gee, Meticulously Observant Observer! What if you are talking about more than one “Person”?

I’m glad you asked!

I will refer to each additional “Person” by using an identifying letter. Let’s try it in a witty exchange of dialogue, shall we?

“Say, shouldn’t you be careful out there, Person A? It’s raining cats and dogs,” said Person B as she opened her umbrella.

Person A smiled. “I’ll be fine, Person B, but I’ll be careful. I wouldn’t want to step in a poodle!”

I…hope all of you “persons” out there are cool with this.

An Anecdote: Spring And The “Impossible” Scavenger Hunt

Ahh, spring.

Nothing can release you from the icy grip of Netflix quite like a few warm, sunny days in a row. And while spring can definitely be a volatile season, the warmer days eventually win. (Until it becomes the fiery, sweltering, charbroiled, mosquito-ridden season known as summer, which is another story for another day.)

Very few people are immune to the inherent charm of springtime. When I was in junior high, I remember it being the perfect time for some of our teachers to take us outside to do a little exploring to enhance our regular lessons. (An “Outside Day” in my P.E. class is where I learned that my best time “running” a mile was a record-breaking twelve minutes. Take that, Roger Bannister.)

In the seventh grade, I had to take a science class, just like every other seventh-grader everywhere. Being an early junior high course, naturally, it was a precursor designed to serve as the foundation for the more advanced courses we would eventually take (including the biology class taught by none other than my mother).

I recall one spring day in which we were taken outside and turned loose on a scavenger hunt.

On the surface, the scavenger hunt was fairly typical; split up into groups and find all of the items on your index card, most of which can be found easily in nature. Examples include a dandelion, a stick, or a particular type of rock.

I was always a people-pleasing-competitive-perfectionist type, so I was determined that our group would find everything on the list. My two companions in the group–whom I’ll generically call Chris and Johnny, because they’re nice, generic names and if they bear any resemblance to anyone it’s purely a coincidence, and that’s my disclaimer for all childhood stories unless otherwise noted–ran all over the place with me crossing items off the list and doing a fairly good job of it.

“Johnny! Did you find that feather?”

“Sure did!” Chris responded. “We only have three things left on the list! What’s left?”

“Umm…I’ll just look for the next one,” Johnny said. “Tree bark. That’s next on the list. I think I can handle that!”

“Okay! That leaves two,” said Chris. “I know where to find the sandstone. Sara, I guess the last one is up to you!”

“No problem!” I said. “Let’s look…umm…”


“Hey…guys? I need a little…umm…a lot of help with this one.”

In our haste, we’d ignored Rule No. 1 of “Doing Assignments.”

Rule No. 1? What is that, you say?


Read everything before you do anything.

We had spent quite a bit of time finding the items on our list IN ORDER, but one item at the bottom had an asterisk beside it–a BONUS item–that I finally noticed towards the end of class. The bonus item threatened to squash my pursuit of perfectionism.

A four-leaf clover.

The luck of the Arkansas-ish.
The luck of the Arkansas-ish.

“What? No way. I never find those things,” said Johnny. “I’m sticking to tree bark.”

“But…wouldn’t it be cool if we could find everything on the list?” I asked.

“We don’t have to find that one, though,” said Chris. “It’s a bonus item.”

“Yeah, but if the other groups find one and we don’t, that’s just…NOT COOL!” I said.

“I know what we can do,” said Johnny.

He reached down into a three-leaf clover patch and picked the biggest one from the ground. Then, he split one of the leaves right down the middle.

“There. Four-leaf clover.”

“Are you kidding?” I asked. “That’s the oldest trick in the book. You try to pass that off as an actual four-leaf clover and some leprechaun is gonna hide under your bed and try to smother you in your sleep.”

“What, you mean like the little guy on the cereal box? He’s not scary,” Johnny replied.

“But, if you try to do that, isn’t it bad luck? Think about it. If a four-leaf clover is good luck, trying to fake one has to be bad luck, right?”

“Y’all, stop!” Chris exclaimed, trying to bring us back to earth. “We don’t even need it. We do need the other stuff on the list. Let’s get those first and then try to find a four-leaf clover. Okay?”

“Fine,” I reluctantly agreed.

Did we actually find a four-leaf clover that day? No.

Did we find all of the other items on the list? Yes.

I’ve probably found dozens upon dozens of four-leaf clovers SINCE that day. Sometimes I just look down and see them without even trying. People even bring them to me nowadays. It’s like someone is giggling at my thirteen-year-old self.

But, when I reminisce about that “impossible” scavenger hunt, I laugh a little and take in a nice, deep breath of spring air and think about how lucky I am to be outside enjoying something other than frost underneath my feet.

Ahh, spring.

An Observation: Age And Relativity

I am 421 months old today!

I don't look a day over 415.
I know, I know…I don’t look a day over 415.

Okay, so my real birthday was a month ago. Counting your age in years as you grow older just makes more sense than the increments you used in your youngest years.

When I was eight and a half years old, I asked my mom an important question.

“When do you stop counting the halves in your age?”

“When you’re 35,” she responded.

(I still haven’t figured out if she was serious or not, but it doesn’t matter now.)

All of the units of measurement of age are quite relative. Milestones change for different times in your life, and with good reason. When you’re a baby, a month is a long time. If you’re a month old, then half of your life has been the average lifespan of your typical mosquito.

Ah, mosquitoes. The bane of any Southerner’s existence in the summertime. It serves as little comfort that they don’t live very long in proportion to our lives, because they repopulate very, very quickly…so that we can scratch our legs for months.

Proportionally speaking, a week’s worth of living could make a mosquito eligible for AARP.

I think the “old-timer” mosquitoes sit around in rocking chairs on the front porch of an arm or a leg and reminisce about the good old days…a week ago.

They discuss something worth remembering, like their best meal.

“Remember that time Mr. Jones was asleep? Talk about an all-you-can-eat buffet! That’s livin’! He didn’t swat at me or nothin’! He just kept on snorin’!”

Then, they might start remembering “old” friends.

“Yeah, Joey. Good guy. Told him to stay away from that light. But, he was a stubborn kid. Just a couple of days past the pupa stage. No convincing that kid to listen to his week-elders, though.”

“And what about ol’ Pete? Man, he was only thirty minutes away from retirement when that flyswatter got him.”

As young children, our ages are measured by the minute, day, month, and then years. Beyond that, we begin to obscure it even further by referring to decades.

“Well, I think she’s in her forties.”

Whatever you choose to use for age identification purposes, just remember this…at least you’re not a mosquito.

Age gracefully, my friends.