Harmless pranks good for the soul, but make sure that’s what they are

BY BOB WACHS, Columnist
Posted 3/31/21

April Fools’ Day is upon us, and, as such, it doesn’t rank all that high on the calendar of holidays. As a matter of fact, some calendars don’t even note it. Others, like the one in my head, …

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Harmless pranks good for the soul, but make sure that’s what they are

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Posted

April Fools’ Day is upon us, and, as such, it doesn’t rank all that high on the calendar of holidays. As a matter of fact, some calendars don’t even note it. Others, like the one in my head, aren’t really sure how to spell “Fools.” Is it “Fools” or “Fool’s” or “Fools’”?

There are no days off from school. The feds don’t close down. Banks stay open. The mail is delivered. Don’t see all that many Hallmark cards celebrating the occasion.

It’s pretty much business as usual.

In a way that’s too bad. I understand the reasons behind time off for Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter or July 4th. And I get the logic for vacation/time off days named after folks.

But April Fools’ Day provides something the other days don’t and that’s an acceptable excuse or reason, regardless of your age, to be foolish and act silly, to have a bit of fun, as long as it isn’t at someone else’s expense. And in a world that today seems to have banned good news or happy stuff, that kind of behavior might help us stay sane, at least if we already are.

I’ve never been one who thought “anything goes” on this day. We don’t need April Fools’ stuff that harms or frightens someone. There’s not one thing funny about telling someone their entire family has been lost in a cruise ship accident off the coast of East Bunjinama and then slapping them on the back and hollering “April Fools’!”

But to tape a piece of paper onto someone’s back with the request “Kick Me” on it is something that some of my alleged high school buddies did to me more than once. And I, of course, found suitable retaliation.

There’s a danger to April Fools’ shenanigans, however, and that is when they are taken to extreme. Playing a harmless prank or joke on someone, preferably a friend or family member, isn’t the end of the world. Sometimes I wonder if we’re not headed toward the end of the world. We live in one where nations are bombing other nations, people are cutting off heads and blowing up airports and shooting people and fussing in Congress and where the most important nightly news at times seem to be what Oprah is up to.

Having the opportunity for a prank or a joke that produces a laugh to give our minds, albeit so fleetingly, a momentary break from North Korea, or China, or all the cast of characters in Washington, or health care, or violence in the streets or the election or whatever isn’t an escape from those realities. We don’t need to forget them but we don’t need to live in a world of constant distress.

Gluing a quarter to the sidewalk and watching people try to pick it up can give us opportunity to refresh our souls so we can go back and work on those concerns mentioned earlier.

I hope if someone slapped you on the back this April Fools’ Day that you didn’t mind it, and that you didn’t go ballistic if you later found a piece of paper that said “Kick Me” on it on you. And when — and if — you retaliate, don’t go too far ... and don’t forget to help folks in need ... starting with those around you.

That’s no April Fools . . . or Fool’s . . . or Fools’.

Or however you spell it.

Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.

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