Years ago, I dreaded the approach of April Fool’s Day much more than I do nowadays. Why, you may ask? Was I not a good sport in the past? Yes, I was. I had to be.
Back then at age twenty-one, I was a teeny weeny bit naive. Um, maybe I should say very naive. Oh, all right, I was more than very naive; I was extraordinarily gullible, and so I was easily taken in by April Fool’s Day pranks.
I worked for an advertising agency right out of college, the youngest employee on staff. One of the agency’s vice-presidents happened to be a former Hollywood movie producer who had switched from producing movies to producing commercials. One day near quitting time, he walked by my desk while his secretary and I were chatting over our typewriters [in prehistoric times] about a movie I saw on TV. I noticed that in the film credits the film’s producer had the same name as the agency’s veep and wasn’t that a coincidence. The veep stopped in his tracks and said it was no coincidence. He was that film’s producer. Small world.
A short while later, the secretary left for the day and the veep and I were the only two left in the office. After I finished editing, revising and typing the agency president’s ad copy [his spelling, grammar, and syntax were atrocious], I poked my head into the veep’s doorway and told him I was all done, and I asked if there was any additional work for me to do before I headed home. He shook his head and then asked what I thought of his movie.
Uh-Oh. Minefield ahead. Job go boom. Tread carefully.
Aside from wanting to keep my job and a regular paycheck, I said I thought the film was well done. I gave him my honest opinion, which was that I liked the script, the acting, and the direction, but not the music score. It was much too loud and brassy. He nodded, appearing thoughtful, and didn’t fire me on the spot. Whew!
As an afterthought, I mentioned that I thought the lead actor was gorgeous. [I was only twenty-one, after all.] The veep grinned at that and agreed. Then he tilted his head and said, “We’re still good friends. Would you like to talk to him?” I’m sure my eyes popped out of my head. Of course, I would.
He opened his little black book to look up the dreamboat’s phone number, picked up his phone and dialed. He then proceeded to have a long, drawn out conversation with the dreamboat on the other end while I waited impatiently for my turn, my heart pounding in my chest so hard it bruised several ribs.
Finally, the veep said, “Good talking to you…Yeah, call me the next time you’re in town…Oh, before I let you go, there’s a fan of yours here in my office. She wants to talk to you,” and he handed me the phone. I said a very breathless, “Hello?” and heard, “At the tone, the time will be…”
I believe my jaw grazed the carpet, and I suppose the thunderstruck expression on my face would have been described as priceless. The veep was laughing so hard I thought he might choke. I secretly hoped that he would while I stood by without lifting a finger and happily watched him suffer.
He quit laughing long enough to ask a very pertinent question of me. “Don’t you remember what day this is?”
He shook his head. “It’s April 1st.” He collapsed in another fit of laughter.
Oh. My. God.
Not April Fool’s Day. Please not April Fool’s Day. Of all the days to forget to turn the calendar page over. I wanted to kick myself.
Him, I wanted to kill. This was so obviously a case of justifiable homicide. No jury on the planet would convict me for offing him. They would lift me onto their shoulders and carry me out of the courtroom in victory, all the while praising my name for ridding the world of its most sadistic prankster.
I couldn’t bear to give the veep the satisfaction of knowing how stupid I felt. To save face, I laughed at myself along with him. I even told him he wasted his talent as a producer, that he faked the call so convincingly he should have been an actor. He beamed at the compliment. Jerk. I never trusted him again.
The next workday, the veep’s magnificently inspired April Fool’s Day prank on me was the main topic—the only topic, really—around the water cooler. I kept smiling and laughing throughout the day at all the jokes made at my expense. The alternative would have been to curl up into a ball and cry and then become the object of pity. Nix to that.
Except for the first time I went into labor, that April Fool’s Day was the longest day of my life. For me and for gullible folk like me, I thank Heaven that April Fool’s Day only comes but once a year.