Originally Posted on Yahoo! Voices
March 30, 2012
Perhaps I get it from my mother. She can have a slightly off kilt sense of humor. A favorite April Fool’s day joke of mine was one she pulled over on my grandmother. Maybe you had to be there, in the car with her as she impromptu went about making the phone call. I was. I was maybe 11 or 12, riding in the car to the grandmother’s house that I named after, at a stop light several miles away, on the actual day of April 1st, as an idea stuck my mom like a lightening bolt. With one hand snacking on a handful of her favorite chocolate candy and the other on the wheel, she motioned for me to keep quiet as she pulled off the road into whatever had been the nearest parking lot. Confused, I watched quietly as she called Grandma Margaret from her car phone and asked in a voice I’d never heard her use before, “Is this Margaret Fields Wasson?”
She then proceeded to keep up the voice and explain for several minutes to my unsuspecting granny, and her own mom, that she was the winner of Publisher’s Clearing House. Grandma had been a long time wishful participant and watched all of the Americans awarded their surprise funds on television. I was confident this would fail as I silently laughed in the front seat, and mouthed the words, “What are you doing?!”
Ending the call with the instructions to remain at her home all day, and to act surprised for the cameras, with that my mom made me an accessory to the prank.
We continued to Grandma Margaret’s house and listened to her all afternoon giddily explain to us what she’s won, based off the phone call she’d just had. I think the best part was when we asked her how she could be so sure they were actually coming, and Grandma replied that she could tell, “from the lady’s voice that she was exactly who she said she was.”
I fought to keep a straight face as I glanced at my mom who gave me an eyebrow raised smirk without even turning her head.
The best pranks are from those who can maintain and keep focus. They mess up all the time on Saturday Night Live, breaking character, but they’re solid on Scare Tactics; even when the joke is practically implausible. But that’s the second key, to not only have it be ultimately ridiculous, but be shrouded in enough doubtful potential, that it gets you thinking…well maybe this is actually happening.
The best April Fool’s I pulled off myself, was a couple years after my mom’s infamous one. A couple weeks into March I stood in the bathroom playing with my mom’s super long hair extensions that she’d purchased in consideration of getting custom hair clips. I plopped all of the black hair atop my head, and admired what I’d look like with long hair. Long hair I’d actually been able to grow during my younger years, but never again when I entered middle school for some reason. Anyway, I was anticipating my friend and neighbor from down the street, Anne, coming over to hangout that afternoon, and the idea came to me instantly.
I was going to pretend like I had a twin; a long haired twin who’d been raised by my father who lived one state over. I’d been raised by my mother, and for more years then not, I hadn’t been in communication with my dad. Recently though, through prodding from my stepfather, words had then begun being spoken between us. During these conversations I’d learned that I had a younger sister I actually hadn’t known about. A fact that I’d shared with my friends. On this day I’d decided that that long lost sister was coming to visit, her name was Meg, and she was my twin. I’d always wanted a twin. Originally I hadn’t anticipated this being an April Fool revealed joke, but it kind of morphed that way, and I just went with it.
Anne comes over, I have this hair on my head, the really funny part being that the hair wasn’t a wig or anything, it was simply pieces of hair held together with a black rubber band, and while from the front yeah it looked like I’d suddenly added several inches of length, my own natural pony tail was clearly revealed from the back. Illusion gone. But who cares? I went with it, assuming Anne would see this immediately and just crack up.
But she didn’t.
As soon as I opened the door that day, this Naomi Campbell like, air of fancy sophistication came over me. My smile was gone, I became completely unlike me as I introduced myself as Meg, to my quizzical looking friend. I explained that I was Margaret’s (that’s me) sister and I was in town visiting. Margaret was doing her homework and couldn’t come out, or even downstairs for that matter. I barely even opened the door and offered myself, (as in Meg), to instead keep her company. She agreed. We spent the next couple of hours in my backyard talking, about I don’t even remember what, I just remember that Meg was kind of rude, verging on pretentious, and quite short with Anne, but Anne just keep chatting away till it was dark. When she finally left to go home for dinner, she yelled up to Margaret, (who’d hint, hint never emerged from her bedroom doing all this homework!) that she’d see her at school the next day.
I laughed for a good long while immediately upon closing the front door, proud of my success and wondering how long I could keep this up. Then I remembered the first of April was coming up, and a full plan hatched itself.
For the remainder of the month I maintained the shenanigans. In school I would share with Anne what it was like getting to know Meg and how cool it was having someone look just like me. But whenever Anne went to mention Meg around our other friends I’d quickly steer the conversation elsewhere. Then during afternoons after school it would only be Meg that Anne interacted with. Several times Anne would comment on how utterly different Meg and I were, from our tone and her somewhat unwelcoming behavior, to even the way that Meg stood in compassion to how I stood! I hadn’t realized that when I was in Meg mode I stood differently, crossed my arms differently, and had even adopted habitually resting my right foot on the side of my left calf when standing. An observation Anne had noticed and cited as another reason cementing in her mind us to be two separate people.
The night before April 1st, I dropped the bombshell on the phone that I would be moving to Kansas, back with Meg to join her in living with my father. She really wanted to return home and I wanted to stay with my newly reunited sister. I would be leaving immediately, right after school the next day. Anne clearly shocked, completely believed me.
Then much to my surprise the next day, in response to my impending farewell, when the school bus pulled up in front of my house, all the windows facing my side of the street were blocked out with paper. A handmade banner hanging from the inside read:
GOODBYE MARGARET, WE WILL MISS YOU!!
Didn’t see that coming!! Clearly this display had taken some coordinated effort. I was stunned. And cracking up.
I ran on the bus and Anne clutched me for dear life telling me how much she’d miss me. (Middle school-ers can be very dramatic am I right?) I couldn’t keep it in any longer, as I let the words burst from my lips: APRIL FOOL’S!!!!!!!!!
She looked at me stunned as if I’d closed the door in her face. I shook her by the shoulders. “I’m not moving! I was just kidding!” She hugged me again, this time tighter, “Oh that’s great news! But what about Meg, won’t you miss her?”
“Anne, I don’t have a twin….there was never a Meg. That was me…” The rest of the bus ride, in the shadow of the hanging banner that read my goodbye wishes, I revealed everything to my flabbergasted young friend. What was really funny was how hard she tried to counter convince me that Meg was in fact a real person! It took her all the way until lunch with my repeat explanation of everything, to finally convince her that she’d in fact been duped. It was quite hilarious when she finally accepted the truth. I think in the end she was mostly glad that Meg wasn’t real, because to be honest, Anne didn’t really like Meg, she much preferred me.
Oh and if you’re wondering what happened to my sweet old grand ma ma, who was all set to patiently wait the day away waiting on her porch, looking casual, while practically ignoring her family company (mom and me!). Well after a couple hours granny here actually shooed us out! Whole heartedly believing that they were going to come at this set time (a specific time she’d come up with all on her own, that my mom hadn’t actually suggested), she wanted us to go home and watch her win on TV so we could record it (she didn’t know how to use her own VCR, and didn’t take kindly to others trying to help her figure out how to use it).
So we left. Had dinner at a nearby restaurant, and then came back. My grandmother hadn’t moved. In fact she had an eerie smile plastered on her face. Surprised by our return she stood, opening the porch screen calling out, “Why are you here? You’re supposed to be watching TV…”
Mom and I both exploded in laughter walking towards her.
“Mom, April Fool’s! No one’s coming. That was me!” My mom explained. Momentarily caught off guard grandma froze and my mom hugged her. When it clicked in her brain, she joined in laughing too. “Oh you’re good! I was so sure that was them!” She shook her hand as us. Considering how excited she’d, she took the revelation well. Inviting us back in once more that day, she said, “Well, what would I have done with all that money anyway…?”
Ahh…April Fool’s good times.