I admire Foolishness ; I dislike practical jokes. But as a person with pretty flexible boundaries, I have been the butt of jokes and teasing most of my life. Most times I go along with being teased, unless it is directed at my poor hearing. Then I bristle. I am not a schadenfreude sort of guy – I cannot understand the joy that others seem to get out other peoples’ embarrassment and discomfort. I detest TV shows featuring videos showing people in some distressful, apparently uproariously comical situation.
But I have known a few people in my life who were compulsive practical jokers. When I lived in Hawaii, I dated a lovely, creative, loving, lively, spirited woman who loved creating practical jokes. But she also was generous in surprising her friends. I am not too fond of surprises either – I don’t like the attention – but she did create some wonderful ones. We first met in an elevator, so a couple of times she managed to spring a surprise on me during what we called St.Otis’ Day, the anniversary of our meeting. She and I would walk into an elevator festooned with greeting placards and ribbons and leis, celebrating our meeting. Those loving surprises were always good for merriment with other elevator passengers. Anyway, I have a fondness for chatting up strangers in elevators. After all- that is how I first met my girlfriend.
And despite my plea for a quiet 40th birthday, she organized a complete yet touching surprise with friends quietly waiting in my tiny little house in Palolo. Odd, that- for somebody as outgoing and social as me, I really am not comfortable with a lot of fuss!
We were part of a jolly group of teachers, dentists, engineers, – all, except me, who loved practical jokes. But I went along with most of the stunts. We took it in turns to dress as Dolly Parton at public gatherings- although I have never been a buxom chap. Or, in silly-dress, we ambled in Waikiki, oooohing and aaahing and gawking and pretending to be being hapless Mainland tourists. Or, for birthdays we cooked up dead fish pies, created from the carcasses washed up on the shore near Hawaii Kai. I did not say that we were boring teachers, dentists, engineers in real life.
The jokes went too far sometimes. I recall being in a major hurry the morning of April 1 1985. I rushed to my VW van and found it stuffed completely full with crumpled newspaper. Many people had spent a lot of time crumpling weeks worth of newspaper for that April’s Fool joke. It was a windy morning and I had to ferry armfuls of newspaper to the trash enclosure, and chasing fugitive sheets as they kipped across the car park. I was late for my appointment.
So, I expressly asked for no more April Fool’s jokes to be played. But on another April 1, I got home from an overnight with my girlfriend, bursting with a need to pee. (I used to drink a lot of black tea). Rushing to the bathroom, I found it stuffed with crumpled newspapers. April Fool again! I was shocked and angry, still with an urgent pee need. My anger puzzled my girlfriend, who had very rarely seen it, but would see it few more times, because that day was the beginning of the middle of the end our of our long relationship. The pain of that protracted parting was no joke.