Most columnists minor in everything and major in nothing at all, but if anyone has ever mastered the art of foolery, you are looking at him.
I take April Fools’ Day to be public recognition of my life’s work. Thank you. Thank you.
What did I do, you ask, to earn such a day of honor? I can give you a recent example.
I was walking through our kitchen eating my bowl of cereal – you know you eat and walk, too, so don’t judge – and I ran into an open cabinet door, conking the front of my head.
I staggered back, dazed, but the dogs enjoyed the milk and Cheerios on the floor, so it wasn’t a total loss, I supposed. The bad part is that only the day before, I had banged the back of my head on a freezer door handle at work.
My head is so bumpy now that if my hair falls out I’m going to look just like Mount Lumpmoore.
Starting early in my life, I have made April Fools’ a year-round endeavor. I remember the time as a kid of about 13 that I was walking home from the store on a country highway and a bunch of older boys stopped to offer me a ride.
“No, thanks,” I told them, heeding my mother’s advice not to accept rides from strangers. “I’m in a hurry.”
On my first day working at the supermarket when I was a teenager, I was sent to fetch the shelf-stretcher, which I found out doesn’t exist. There was talk of tracking down the smoke-shifter for the store’s incinerator, but I didn’t fall for that fools’ errand.
The pranks in a supermarket were far-reaching, but sometimes I acquitted myself admirably. One night, some of the guys locked a co-worker and me in a walk-in freezer that held frozen food. We banged on the door but were abandoned when the perpetrators went back to the registers to bag groceries.
We gave up until my watch frosted over and the situation looked dire. We made one more concerted effort to kick the door open, and it did the trick. Leaning against a box was the manager, peeling an apple with his pocketknife. I didn’t want him to think we had been goofing off.
“Nope, Julius,” I told my co-worker, “no french fries in that freezer. Let’s check the other one.”
The manager, who had seen it all during his long career, never said a word.
At a newspaper where I was the new guy, a co-worker left me a phone message that a Ms. Lyon had called. When I called her number back, I found that I had reached the city zoo. Lyon, lion. Har-dee-har. It was April 1, naturally.
Turning the tables on my co-worker, I interviewed the zoo official who answered the phone for a story about all the prank calls they got each year for Ms. Lyon or Mr. Baer and the like.
Once a fool, not always a fool, I suppose.