April Fool’s Day
The custom of setting aside a day for the playing of pranks on friends is recognized everywhere. In one famous prank from 1957, the BBC broadcast aired a film in their current affairs series showing Swiss farmers picking freshly grown spaghetti, in what they called the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest. The BBC was flooded with requests to purchase a spaghetti plant, forcing them to declare the film a hoax on the news the next day.
I have a lackluster feeling for the day this year due to the overload of fools parading as presidential candidates this season.
Still, I am always aware of April Fool’s Day because my eldest brother Jim’s birthday is April 2. When we were kids, his nickname was Jamie. At about 11, he decided that he wouldn’t answer to that name anymore. He was Jimmy or Jim and nothing else.
There went one of my three best insults I liberally threw at him when we were fighting. I would call him “Janie” and it was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. He had an eyetooth that stuck out so I called him “white fang,” but that didn’t work nearly as well.
He was two and a half years older, but I was only one grade behind him because I skipped a grade. That had more to do with lack of classroom space than academics, but still it was a touchy subject. Particularly, when we ended up in a combination 7th and 8th grade class.
In the battle between siblings, nothing is sacred. I would let him know that he couldn’t have been born on April 2 because April Fool’s Day fit him perfectly.
Stupid was a pejorative used liberally in our household and is still a judgment that I shy away from as one of the worst things you can say about another. I do admit to having a better relationship with the word “ignorant” even though when you look closely it is just stupid dressed up in a highbrow suit.
Since our intelligence was often in question, as in, “What were you thinking? Are you really that stupid?”, April fool was a fair assessment in my mind.
I look back fondly on my upbringing because it was full on. Real in a way that might be out of reach today. Jim and I were the oldest of what ended up as 11 siblings.
I am grateful for the “kinder and gentler” atmosphere of child-rearing today. However, the interpersonal skills learned from having only one and a half bathrooms for the whole family and one television that required constant negotiating skills has served me well.
Learning how to stand up and fight, lose miserably and let my brother take the rap for being an aggressive bully even though I was often guilty as an instigator, prepared me for a realistic acceptance of the fact that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Susan is a local author and personal development consultant. Learn more at: beyondintellect.com