Foolishly Yours!

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The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year – Mark Twain

Ever been fooled?? A few times??  Never??  Well, ask me and most definitely you’ll find someone who has been fooled a hundred times and then once more just for luck.  My childhood is dotted with instances where I’ve been taken for a ride and I’m not talking of the rides you find at the amusement park.  Countless ‘kick me’ and ‘I’m a donkey’ stickers have been slapped on my back by innocent looking brothers, cousins and schoolmates.

I have raced to the phone to answer calls which didn’t come in the first place, found plastic lizards in my drawer and rubber spiders in my bed and even skipped school because the headmistress was dead.  What’s more, the ghastly white face swaying eerily outside my window at midnight, bathed in an unearthly yellowish light, turned out to be nothing but a white bed sheet and electric torch the next morning, much to my chagrin I might add.  And this too when April was nowhere in sight.  In fact, come March 31st and I usually go underground. 

Those days, if anyone in my family had a fake (read time pass) story to be told, then I was one of the first to be called. “Let’s tell Shaly man?.she swallows anything”.  And swallow I did, hook, line and sinker.  Usually the stories would involve ghosts and fiendish characters from the nether world.  My eyes would go wide, my mouth dry and sometimes if the story was scary enough my heart even missed a couple of beats.  At the end of it all, the rest of the clan could bear it no longer and they would all burst into uncontrollable laughter. This was followed by the ‘rubbing salt in the wound’ technique where one of them would tell me “It’s does not pay to be such a gullible idiot you know.”

The pranks continued as I grew up but I was wiser now.  At least I hoped I was.  Having three brothers and countless male cousins and with the ratio of boys:girls being 3:1 in the rest of the family, it was not surprising that we girls were targeted to be the brunt of jokes.  I got used to checking my bed for plastic creepy crawlies before I got in and always prodded half-open doors to make sure there was no one hiding behind them.  Gifts were shaken and scrutinised suspiciously and innocent invitations to open any kind of box were refused at once. 

But sometimes they proved too smart for me.  Like the time I was reading ‘The Exorcist’ and was on page xx (was it 56?) where the possessed girl Regan turns her head a full horrifying 360 degrees.  I could feel the cold ‘icy’ finger of fear on the bent nape of my neck sliding slowly down and down and down??.my screams were high pitched enough to have woken up the Egyptian mummies that day, except for the fact that they were intermingled with the hysterical laughter of the culprits, one of whom had an ice tray clutched to his chest and was laughing so hard, he had fallen on the floor.  So much for my new found wisdom.

…Very soon I realized there was a rewarding part to being fooled.….

But, being at the receiving end of practical jokes also taught me to laugh at myself and be a good sport (did I have a choice?).  It even made me join in the pranks sometimes, adhering to the adage that said “If you can’t beat them, join them.” It was a way of bringing us siblings, neighbourhood pals and school friends together in a way nothing else did. 

So what if sometimes your pony tail was tied to the chair behind and yanked you back as you got up? So what when you first started wearing a bra to school you found it traced on your uniform blouse on the back in a bold blue marker?  And you walked all the way home without knowing why the other kids were laughing at you?  I still remember the name of the girl who did that for two reasons. One, the idea was original and matchless, and two, the embarrassment was long lasting:( 

Very soon I realized there was a rewarding part to being fooled.  Most of the pranksters in school who played pranks on me eventually turned out to be my good friends, forcing me to believe that they were all a bunch of gregarious, fun-loving persons whose exclusive hobby was to look for ‘bakras’ like me.  What’s more, I was even accorded the badge of a ‘good sport’ and eventually joined the gang too.  You could say over the years, I’d switched over conveniently from being a member of the ‘Gullible Goofy Club’ to being a member of the ‘Practiced Prankster Club’.  And believe me, it’s so MUCH more fun here….but that’s another story for another time….

Happy April Fools Day everyone and do watch out for yourselves today.  The members of that club I mentioned earlier are spread out everywhere 😉

Here are some interesting April Fool’s Day pranks that will prove that you are not the only gullible ones around.  (Source: Internet)

New Zealand Wasp Swarm

In 1949 Phil Shone, a New Zealand deejay, announced to his listeners that a mile-wide wasp swarm was headed towards Auckland. He urged them to take a variety of steps to protect themselves and their homes from the winged menace. For instance, he suggested that they wear their socks over their trousers when they left for work, and that they leave honey-smeared traps outside their doors. Hundreds of people dutifully heeded his advice, until he finally admitted that it had all been a joke. The New Zealand Broadcasting Service was not amused by Shone’s prank. Its director, Professor James Shelley, denounced the hoax on the grounds that it undermined the rules of proper broadcasting. From then on, a memo was sent out each year before April Fool’s Day reminding New Zealand radio stations of their obligation to report the truth, and nothing but the truth.

Big Ben Goes Digital

In 1980 the BBC reported that Big Ben, in order to keep up with the times, was going to be given a digital readout. It received a huge response from listeners protesting the change. The BBC Japanese service also announced that the clock hands would be sold to the first four listeners to contact them, and one Japanese seaman in the mid-Atlantic immediately radioed in a bid.

The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest

In 1957 the respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in, and many called up wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti trees. To this question, the BBC diplomatically replied that they should “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

Colour Reception for Swiss TV

In 1962 there was only one TV channel in Sweden, and it broadcast in black and white. The station’s technical expert, Kjell Stensson, appeared on the news to announce that thanks to a newly developed technology, all viewers could now quickly and easily convert their existing sets to display color reception. All they had to do was pull a nylon stocking over their TV screen, and they would begin to see their favorite shows in color. Stensson then proceeded to demonstrate the process. Reportedly, hundreds of thousands of people, out of the population of seven million, were taken in. Actual color TV transmission only commenced in Sweden on April 1, 1970.

Nixon for President

In 1992 National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation program announced that Richard Nixon, in a surprise move, was running for President again. His new campaign slogan was, “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I won’t do it again.” Accompanying this announcement were audio clips of Nixon delivering his candidacy speech. Listeners responded viscerally to the announcement, flooding the show with calls expressing shock and outrage. Only during the second half of the show did the host John Hockenberry reveal that the announcement was a practical joke. Nixon’s voice was impersonated by comedian Rich Little.


Author: Shaly Pereira- Oman

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