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There’s No Fool Like An April Fool!

April Fools’ Day is one of the most widely recognized non-religious holidays in the Western world. Children prank parents, coworkers prank coworkers, and even national and local news outlets still prank their readers and viewers. But why? What is the origin of April Fools’ Day, and how did it become an international phenomenon?

Nobody really knows its beginnings for sure although some historians speculate April Fools’ Day goes way back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes and were called “April fools.”

This year April Fools’ Day is on Saturday, April 1. I’m writing a second column this month so you, hopefully, read this before the big day in time to devise something devious for someone on your “gotcha” list.

Every spring we all put on our pranking caps to plan the most diabolical, yet safe and playful, pranks we can think of, making April 1 possibly the most fun, exciting and anxiety-filled day of the year! If you’re like me, you prefer to spend April Fools’ Day hiding from everyone you know to avoid the inevitable embarrassment this day brings — but this doesn’t mean you can’t have a few laughs on your own.

My wife, Marty, and I are so suspicious of each other on April Fools’ Day we literally try to avoid each other all day. We’ve pulled so many tricks over the years that everything becomes suspicious that day. But you’re reading this now to find some trick(s) you can pull on your partner, friend, enemy perhaps, or just anyone who crosses your path tomorrow. So, try some of these out:

– Put a rubber band around the kitchen sink sprayer and aim it at whomever may eventually stand at the sink and turn on the water. I’ve done this almost yearly but be prepared to clean up some water because my wife usually runs away and leaves the water on.

– Unscrew several Oreo cookies and replace the filling with toothpaste. Sandwich the cookies back together to make them look like a totally normal snack. How disgusted they are depends upon the flavor of the toothpaste!

– Unscrew your showerhead and pop in a bouillon cube so your family member takes a shower that smells increasingly like chicken or beef as the water streams down.

– For this prank, blow up a boatload of balloons and bunch them together inside the car your spouse will be driving.

– If you’ve ever used glitter, you know that a little bit goes a long way, and it gets absolutely everywhere. Fill an envelope with some glitter and leave it in your friend’s or neighbor’s mailbox. He or she will be cleaning up glitter forever.

– Duct tape a harmonica or whistle underneath the front bumper of your spouse’s car. Nothing monumental will happen at first, but as he or she picks up speed, a whistling sound will come from the car.

– Put tape under your spouse’s computer mouse and watch him or her try to figure out why it’s not working!

– Fill a doughnut up with mayo and expect plenty of cringe-worthy reactions!

– Stick a straw into a yellow mustard packet, put the packet in an unsuspecting guests can of soda or sparkling water, and wait for hilarity to ensue!

– Tape fake roaches or bugs inside a lampshade. When the light is turned on everyone will immediately feel creepy-crawly!

– On a Windows computer, press the Ctrl, Alt, and the downward arrow key to flip the display screen upside down. You can turn it back up by pushing Ctrl, Alt, and the upward arrow key together! (I haven’t tried this so you’re on your own)!

– Make a mashed potato-and-gravy sundae that looks just like ice cream-and- caramel sauce, but is definitely more dinner than dessert! Sorry in advance to whomever is on the receiving end of this prank, but one way to really shock someone is by leaving fake poop (or vomit) somewhere in your home or car. I’ve done this several times to my wife and once she even scolded the cat I didn’t like very well. (This works best if you have a cat or dog so you don’t come under suspicion).

– Put a “For Sale” sign in your yard the kids will see when they head out for school!

– While making dinner, ask a loved one to taste-test what’s on the spoon … only mix up some crazy ingredients from your fridge ahead of time and place that on the spoon instead of what you’re cooking!

My wife once helped me put on my sports coat as I went to work. On the back of the coat, she had sown a smiley face that I wore around the office for hours until someone said something.

Finally, if you don’t have time or interest in doing any of the above, go for the classic April Fools’ prank — jump out and scare someone who least expects it!

Enjoy the day!

Vince LaBarbera
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Vince LaBarbera

Vince is a Fort Wayne native. He earned a master of science degree in journalism and advertising from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. LaBarbera is retired but continues to enjoy freelance writing and serving the Radio Reading Service of the Allen County Public Library. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer