Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fool's Paradise

I hate April Fool’s Day.

Oh, it’s a charming little story, how it came to be.  How the old New Year’s Day was actually in late March for the longest time, and how those who refused to celebrate the newly declared January 1 new year date and held to the traditional date – now moved back a bit to April thanks to the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar – were labeled April Fools.  Hey – I’ve never fully come to grips with the whole “new year starts in January” thing either.  I’m an academic.  As far as I am concerned, the new year starts in September.

Unless that whole story is just another April Fool’s joke.  Wouldn’t surprise me if it were.

I’m not entirely sure how you get from a quiet little story about people refusing to move a holiday – the sort of conversations that happen every year in this country whenever the subject of President’s Day versus Washington’s Birthday staggers out of its swamp to consume the brains of the living – to the current state of the day, wherein one is supposed to celebrate the kinds of mean-spirited pranks that on any other day of the year would earn the perpetrator a well-deserved punch in the nose.  I’m sure it made sense to someone at the time.

Maybe the day holds no appeal to me because I never saw much point in those kinds of pranks to begin with.  They just seem like ways to inflict pain on others while demanding that the victims find it funny to be placed in that situation.  It's Theatre of Cruelty for the unambitious.  I’d like to think this is something people would outgrow by the time they learned how to tie their own shoes, but then I’d be wrong.

Oh, sure.  Most of it is harmless.  Some of it might actually be amusing when seen from the right angle.  A lot can be funny if it happens to someone else, after all.

And maybe I’m just a big old grouch who should be left alone to stew on the sad state of the world these days and why won’t these dratted kids get off my lawn anyway.

But I’ll be glad to see tomorrow.


TimBo said...

Now I feel guilty about telling my grandson (6) that spring break had been cancelled and driving him to school.I also feel bad about letting him walk half-way to the door before yelling "April Fools!".

On the other hand he tried to return the favour and trick me for the rest of the car ride, so maybe I shouldn't feel too badly.

Eric said...

And yet surely I could convince you bigons and hotheaded naked ice borers almost make the holiday worthwhile, couldn't I?

(Or, if nothing else, use your complaint to share the joys of bigons and hotheaded naked ice borers.)

Unknown said...

An April Fools done well can be a real joy. Here are a selection that someone liked, and it includes some fun ones: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/26831723 As you say, there's the great spaghetti harvest newsreel, which I've only seen once; I think someone told me that part of the reason it worked was that the newsreader was one of those that had cultural acceptance to the point where people would believe anything he said - a bit like Walter Cronkite. My favourite April Fool of all time was an ad for a BBC service called iplayer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dfWzp7rYR4 with Terry Jones pretending to be David Attenborough. Dave, even your grumpy instincts won't survive this one - do watch it if you haven't before

John the Scientist said...

I'm with you on this one.

Now let's go find Nathan and cruise the finer eating establishments of Flushing, Queens.