For the second year in a row, I have masterminded a number of successful over-the-top April Fool's Pranks without a single friend (or, more importantly, Facebook "friend") calling my work into question.
Have people forgotten about April Fools' Day or are we a prank-free society?
As a young person, probably because I didn't have athletics or good looks to earn me much attention, I turned to pranking for social amusement and gratification. It all began during March of 1994, in balmy San Antonio Texas.
It's approaching 9pm on a Friday night, and I'm sitting Indian style on my friend Maica's bedroom floor. Scattered around me are Teen People and YM magazines, along with small misshapen clippings and a pair of scissors. Maica is putting the final touches on this weekend's photo collage, its center snapshot bordered by personalized messages to the guests of her slumber party. "BFF" and "LYLAS" feature prominently.
I giggle, reach for her phone and put my index finger to my lips, hoping to quiet the chorus of hysterical laughter as I dial our first victim's number. I expel an anxious sigh.
This seemingly inconsequential moment marks the beginning of a life-long pursuit, a benign, albeit devious, proclivity for the prank.
Several still moments pass, and Zach answers the phone, "Hey. Uh, hello."
"Hi Zach. This is Alison Bradshaw."
Zach clears his throat and begins to lower the tone of his voice as soon as he realizes he's speaking to a female.
"You don't know me, but my cousin is one of your classmates at Alamo Heights." A lisp joins my speech, and my tone escalates, resulting in flawless camouflage.
The conversation finds its footing, and my new persona with it: I am pleasantly surprised to hear myself patiently pushing Zach towards my end goal. Thankfully, he takes the bait without reservation, so I continue, "My cousin likes you but is too shy to tell you herself...what if you don't like her back?" Zach's curiosity takes over, and he demands to know who seeks his affection, but I refuse to disclose her name. Eventually, we negotiate a deal, one that I have scripted hours before.
The deal is simple: I provide a group of names (my "cousin's closest friends"), and my pretend cousin is among the girl's listed. In exchange, Zach must tell me what he thinks of each girl. Once we've gone through the list, I will reveal the crush.
Little does he know that there is no cousin and certainly no crush, and I have no revelation to reward. Once I get the information I need (detailed insights regarding every girl at the party), I create some final excuse ("It's not going to work out" or "She's changed her mind.") and politely end the call. Voila!
Zach, embarrassed to have divulged so much to a stranger -- on Friday evening no less -- will never relay this anecdote to any of his friends. The anonymity of my prank is thus sealed.
We are exultant when the call ends and celebrate with ice cream. Then we move on to the next victim!
Caller I.D. was born several years later, putting to rest a small (or maybe large?) part of me.
My inner prankster took a hiatus, finally revived last April when I found myself working amidst fellow jokesters. We worked together, and against one another, to devise several office pranks that would make Jim Halpert proud.
One of our colleagues returned to his office following a string of meetings only to discover that his grey walls had been covered by neon yellow peeps, a snack that he most abhors. We put them on the ceiling, under documents, in his mugs and coat pockets. Peeps peeped out of crevices and dripped sugar all over the place. I stayed on for another six months, and every few days my colleague would unhappily unearth a few more peeps, by that time hardened into stone.
As a team, we wrote a fake news story about our boss, which nearly made her cry, before revealing its inauthentic nature. I couldn't stop: pranking took over once more. I told my entire family and Facebook community that I'd gotten a book deal and was imminently returning to Africa to complete my research. Hook, line and sinker, they gobbled it up. I soon realized the joke was on me when I had to start declining a string of congratulatory messages.
This year I went for something slightly more believable and many degrees less flattering: I told my entire network that I'd adopted two more cats. What's worse than a single Manhattan woman with one (devil) cat? A woman with three.
The prank's been live for approximately six hours and not one person has questioned its authenticity...
Here's to hoping that more of my peers will indulge in some harmless-yet-amusing April Fools' comedy.