Off The Press
March 30, 2010
By Bob Taylor
There’s plenty more news, no foolin’
Sammy, a distant cousin of the Loch Ness monster, was spotted in Lake Sammamish last week.
Apparently, Sammy was annoyed by the noise of some jet skiers, who were definitely spooked when the monster poked its head up through the water. The jet skiers reported the incident to local authorities. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife ruled that since Sammy was out of season, she should be left alone.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced last week that table tennis would be added to the list of the state’s high school varsity sports. The state’s governing body of high school sports decided that since table tennis is an Olympic sport, it should be a high school sport, too.
The producers of Sesame Street have decided it’s time for Bert and Ernie to become a little more macho. This fall, the two Muppets will be portrayed as a tag team in World Wrestling Entertainment.
Thursday of this week is April 1, the day when jokes and pranks are played on a lot of innocent people. Like many folks, I’ve attempted some April Fools’ Day jokes, some that were as lame as the above examples, and I have often been the target of some April 1 foolery.
Actually, I believe April Fools’ Day jokes are rather boorish and sophomoric. The problem with such jokes sometimes is trying to tell whether it is a joke or something that is actually true.
Case in point — many, many years ago, when I was in elementary school, I sat on the bus next to a guy I’ll refer to as Joe the Jokester. Joe was always playing pranks on someone. April 1 was his day.
One time, he told students that the school spaghetti was actually made from earthworms. The lunch sales for the spaghetti day hit a new low at our school. The school cook and the principal were not elated by the prank.
Well, back to the bus. It was April 1 and I knew Joe had something planned. When I sat down next to him, he glanced over toward me and noticed a scab on my neck. He said, “You’ve got chicken pox!” Yeah, like I was going to fall for this one. Joe kept it up, insisting that he was serious this time. Like I was going to trust this guy, who maintained that the school hamburgers were really horsemeat.
When we arrived at school, I decided it might be a good idea to see the school nurse just in case Joe wasn’t joking. After examining me, the nurse had the school secretary call my parents to pick me up. Yes, I had chicken pox. Joe wasn’t joking.
April Fools’ jokes have been around longer than I’ve been on this planet. In fact, according to Wikipedia, some people believe the great English writer Chaucer was one of the creators of April Fools’ Day. Chaucer, in fact, referred to two fools in his “Nun’s Priest’s Tale” in “The Canterbury Tales.”
His event took place 32 days after March. However, early readers thought he meant March 32, which doesn’t exist so they figured it should be April 1 for fools.
We can also blame the French for April Fools’ Day. In 1564, France reformed its calendar, making the first of the year Jan. 1 instead of March 1. Some people, who didn’t like the change, became the target of pranks and jokes.
One of the pranks was sticking pictures of fish on their backs. This joke became known as Poisson d’Avril — or April fish.
Well, yelling “April Fish” just didn’t sound quite right to citizens of other countries. They changed it to April fool.
So, there you have it. We hope everyone’s April 1 isn’t full of too much tomfoolery. Remember, the joke you play on someone this year could come back to haunt you next year.
Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.