Thanks to a combination of genetically odd humor and innate competitiveness, my family doesn’t mess around on April Fool’s Day. Rarely does a year go by without someone in my family punking someone else. When I was in my 20s, I called my sister, Sandy, and told her I had eloped. She fell for it. Then, she promptly dialed my mother and told her the same thing. Without missing a beat, my mother replied, “Well, I’m not surprised, you know she’s pregnant.” Score: Mom 1, Sandy 0.
Arguably the greatest prank in family lore goes back to the early 1970s when UFOs were reported buzzing around the state of Michigan. My late father called my Aunt Mel and Uncle Rich down the road a few minutes past midnight. Over the years, the night has become colder, the snow higher, but everyone agrees that it was one of those bitter nights that nature likes to dump on the Midwest as a final feat of winter.
“Quick, go outside, there are UFOs to the northeast!” Dad shouted into the phone. My Uncle Rich worked a late shift at General Motors; he’d just had dinner and was headed to bed when the phone rang. Uncle Rich immediately lept outside into the knee-high snow in his pajamas and robe. After a few minutes, Aunt Mel picked up the phone, still dangling by its cord.
“Rich says he can’t find them. He’s out in the snow in his bare feet.”
Dad and Mom yelled in unison, “April Fool’s!”
Aunt Mel huffed, not immediately amused. “I’m not going to tell my husband who worked a 10-hour shift that you made a fool of him making him run out in the snow! You tell him yourself.” She put a hand over the phone and yelled, “Rich!” When Dad sheepishly explained that it was a joke, Uncle Rich hung up. Then he dialed a whole slew of other relatives and pulled the same prank on them, sending other gullible types out into the snow looking for flying saucers.
This morning, my mother’s answering machine caught the entirety of my sister’s annual call. For context, let me explain: Mom is having tile put in her house this week, so she hired a storage pod in which to stick all of her furniture. The whole tile experience has been a bit of an ordeal.
Oh, and by the way, Sandy tried the same joke on Mike and I but we didn’t fall for it. We know better than to believe anything my sister says between March 30th and April 2nd.