Thursday, March 31, 2005

Less Gullible at Six Than I Am Now (Updated)

Weekend Assignment #53: Recount a tale of a particularly successful April Fool's prank you perpetrated, had perpetrated on you, or witnessed personally. As a matter of humor, it's best if the pranks are not merely cruel (i.e., if it ends with someone in tears or in the hospital, that's probably stretching the limits of the phrase "successful April Fool's prank"), but aside from that, bring 'em on.

Extra Credit: Prank someone famous. Tell us how.

Manlius Pebble Hill school

I'm not a prankster, merry or otherwise.  I don't like upsetting people, and I don't have the patience to set up a gag. Other people have fooled me, though.  I'm distressingly gullible.  The most memorable attempt was Lawyer Bob's insistance that he didn't know who William F. Buckley was (aside from Jim Buckley's brother), despite supposedly having just lunched with him.  I didn't believe Bob, but he wouldn't give in.

Other times, though, I believe people when I shouldn't.  Mercifully, I mostly don't remember the details. The ones I do remember had more to do with fraud than mere pranks.

The one really memorable April Fool's prank pulled on me was when I was six years old. My dad got me that time. Well, sort of.

When I was in kindergarten, my mom decided partway through the year to transfer me from Manlius Elementary to a private school in Dewitt called Pebble Hill.  (Pebble Hill later merged with The Manlius School to become Manlius Pebble Hill School.)  The school had an excellent reputation academically, but the big draw for my parents was that they had all day kindergarten instead of half days.  I would no longer need a sitter in the afternoons.  Also, my mom thought I could probably be skipped ahead to first grade.   I've told that story before, so I'll link to it here and leave it at that.

Anyway, my dad was driving me over to Pebble Hill one morning--April 1st, 1963, it must have been. We were already in Dewitt when  he told me that the school had burned down the night before.

I was shocked.  Still, something didn't quite make sense to me, even at age six.

"If the school burned down, then where are we going?" I asked.

Dad turned left, and there was the school, safe and sound.  I was highly relieved.  Truth is, I wouldn't want anything to happen that was remotely like the nasty little kid's parody song I learned years later, but decades before Columbine:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school.
We have tortured every teacher, we have broken every rule.
Now we're  going down the hall so we can hang the principal
As the school comes burning down!

Glory, glory hallelujah!
Teacher hit me with a ruler.
Caught her at the door with my trusty .44.
She ain't my teacher no more!

Nowadays, anyone who sang a song like that would be presumed to be disturbed.  But at F-M in those days, we were just blowing off steam.  Nobody at Manlius Elementary, Pleasant Street or Eagle Hilll even dreamed that a real kid would ever take a gun to school and use it.

Extra credit: in a way I sort of did this, but I didn't mean to. 

Harlan (center, on the chair) demonstrates the proper way to wear his favorite hat
Harlan Ellison wanted to borrow some photos from me, and I agreed to send them. While I was at it, I experimented with scanning the photos, printed the less-than-satisfactory results, and enclosed them in the envelope, along with the photos and some other stuff.

A few days later, Harlan called.  "Listen, I was under the impression that you were going to send the original photos, or the negatives.  But all I see here are bad copies."

"The photos are in there too," I assured him.  Look for a small folded envelope inside the big one."

"Oh, there they are.  Thanks.  I'll get them back to you as soon as I can."

"No rush."

I didn't MEAN to trickHarlan into thinking I hadn't sent the photos, but I don't regret getting the call.  It was good to hear his voice again.

But he hasn't returned the photos yet.

******* Update: 5/4/06********

Several months after I wrote this entry, I did get the photos back.  I'll tell that story on my current blog, Outpost Mâvarin.


Dave's bungee giftUpdate, 4/1/05: Okay, I pulled a prank. As you may expect, it was a very mild one.

Yesterday, Dave at work mentioned that he didn't own any bungee cords.  I bought a six-pack of them at lunch yesterday for $3.49, so I'd have a choice of cord lengths to tie down the loose end of my front bumper.  Dave said that if he had bungee cords, he'd probably find a use for them.

So this morning I found a use for one.  A very silly use.

I took the shortest bungee - it was purple - and bungeed his bottle of instant hand sanitizer to his desk calendar. Ta-daa!


I remembered a prank I actually did myself (with help), over a decade ago.

As you know, Batman, in the early 1990s I was editing TARDIS Time Lore for United Whovians of Tucson, and The Observer for Project Quantum Leap.  I think it was in 1992 that TTL got an April Fool's section.

The header of the Who zine renamed it Tardy Times Lord.  Tracy's column, normally called "From the Control Console," was labeled "From the Controlled Soul."  The indicia said the following:

TARDY Times Lord #8, April the 8th 1970. Published a month (decade?) or two late by the Universal Whonians of Tuscon, a association with insert joke here. TARDY Times Lord is an April Fool's joke published by and for fans of My Favorite Martian, who are solely irresponsible. The copyrights in the series Doctor Who and Quantum Leap are held by a bunch of mindless jerks (not Don B.) who will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes. This publication does not intend to infringe upon said copyrights, but probably does so all the time. Neither the mindless jerks nor us have any responsibility for this publication or for thefan club which publishes it. All material herein subject to the real disclaimer and copyright notice further in. Don't Panic! This zine is sold by weight, not by volume. Contents may have settled during shipping and handling.

Everyone's name was mispelled, in as many different ways as possible.  Every page of it was Page 42. And I started a serial called "Time and Tide Melts the Snowman."  There never was a part two, which was a shame because the story had potential.  Oddly, my copy of the zine doesn't have that in it. Hmmm...


Top 10 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time!


plittle said...

A critical thinker at age six... well done!

deabvt said...

Hey, you`ve had a reason to call him back!

ryanagi said...

"Caught her at the door with my trusty .44"

Say WHAT? LMAO! That version is WAY too dark. Ours was "Caught her at the door with a handy 2x4" as in a board. Up trumping the ruler...with a board...get it? Sheesh. LOL

ondinemonet said...


Fabulous entry sweetie! and I could have shared some times when we were school agers. LOL. I would have been the prankster and you the debunker. LOL. William F. Buckley...oh my. :)

Love, Carly :)

monponsett said...

nice scool....4 tennis courts and 3 soccer fields...suburbia?

plittle said...

You nut, you!

cyndygee said...

Thanks for sharing . .  .  and I was glad you included the ALL TIME pranks.

I LOVE THE TACO LIBERTY BELL.  Some people will believe ANYTHING  LOL!!!