Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The April Fish

"It's easy to see I'm not down with that,
I'm not nobody's fool."

Nobody's Fool (2002) by Avril Lavigne

Today is the 1st of April and I woke up at 3:00 am remembering it, feeling pretty pleased with myself that I did. No one, I thought, is going to fool me today. Then I promptly proceeded to fool myself by rushing to complete two Surgical case reports which is due on Friday, and not today as I somehow suckered myself into thinking. The guys clued me in I when I met them for our carpool to the hospital in Muar at a quarter past seven, but I was skeptical at first - y'know, vigilance and all that. I didn't want to be the first fish of the day. Vigilance wasted though. They were serious about the deadline being Friday.

Still, I took pains to analyse everything every word everyone said to me up until lunchtime because I am just paranoid that way. Nobody play a single prank or try even the simplest tricks. Not on me. Not in my vicinity. At about 1:30 pm, I decided that this blatant disregard of the one day of the year we celebrate human gullibility has gone long enough, and pulled the first April Fool's Day joke of the day. Some guy stood up from his seat and I remarked politely that there was a tear in the seat of his pants. It's not sophisticated, yes, but it's one of the classics. People's insecurities have always been fair game on April First.

"April Fool," I said (as annoyingly as I could) the moment he bit. Too easy.

"Damn," he said, laughing. "Fuck!" he supplied further, and said that he didn't remember that it was the first of April at all. That one crude prank snowballed predictably. That's how it's always been. Some guy got conned, then he try to con someone else who have not yet realise that the day is a holiday in their honour. It's a day where we laugh at other people's expense and more importantly still, we remember to laugh at ourselves. In the harried life of a medical student, we need to be reminded of that more than others. We get too self-important sometimes, and take ourselves far too seriou...

You're an April Fool if you believe that last paragraph. It was pure drivel. What really happened was that that guy simply shrugged, and said,

"Frankly, I don't care."

I don't know. I simply don't. What changed when we got to our twenties? Why do we reach some point in our lives when the person who feels embarrassed on April Fool's Day is not the person who got tricked, but the person who tricked him? For being puerile, immature, childish or whatever adjective it is they use these days for 23-year-olds remembering the most important holiday of the year? I do think that of all the numbers we have in the calendar, the First of April is most worthy of recognition. It's the day we celebrate humanity in the most straightforward, practical and demonstrative sense. We laugh. We lie. There's no other animal in existence I know of which is able to tell untruths. There's no other animal in existence which has a sense of humour.

In France and former French colonies, it is stock gag to try to stick a paper fish on someone's back without the victim noticing it. It's called poisson d'avril, or April's Fish. I knew a fish once, a Pisces to be exact, because she was born on the 12th of March - 1,2,3. Easy to recall. And on her, I played the only April Fool's Day prank I ever regretted, and the funny or sad thing was,I wasn't even trying to trick her.

I told a great number of my Fourth Form classmates that I have broken up with her (for she was my girlfriend, my first) and that being the April First, you can probably appreciate how hard was for me to get people to believe me. I played a protracted joke. When everyone called me out on it, I refused to admit. When people pointed out that it was too obvious, the day being what it was, I merely replied bluntly that the break happened two days ago - which didn't necessarily mean that I wasn't lying, but people are simply that susceptible to misdirection. I put up such a long and convincing show that I eventually reeled everyone in. And then, I forgot to tell them what big ninnies they are for being taken in by so a transparent trick, which is by far the best and most satisfying part of April Fool's Day. It was like making a sandwich with no fillings, biting into it and not noticing the difference. I realised that after I got home from school, but I thought that I could laugh at them in the following day (and possibly even over the next few days because I'm such a horrible gloat).

The joke's on me though. I received a phone call later that night. She was on the other end, evidently upset and asking me if I really wanted a breakup. Apparently, a guy I bluffed asked his girlfriend about the veracity of my tale, and the gossip chain is just this short in a small town like Malacca; someone inevitably approached her and questioned her about it.

I felt low. I felt that I should have known even though there wasn't any way I could have foreseen this big a fuck up. If someone comes to me and tells me that my girlfriend was telling everyone that we have broken up, and it was the First of April, I'd simply laugh at that person, asking him or her if the hook, line and sinker tasted good. But evidently, I'm not everyone.

That was one of the first and by far the harshest lesson I learnt about empathy. There are just some insecurities we should never ever joke about. Whether we mean to or not is academic.

No one should feel bad on April Fool's Day.

First class fool,
k0k s3n w4i


- yuhhui - said...

LOL! That was a joke that went wrong. Why didn't you team up with her and joke about it? Hehe ..

P/S , I wasn't joking about my relationship. My relationship with Chaurasia, that is. =p

hyperX said...

Soon... april fool will be eliminated. People seems to be sick and tired of it.

Mike J. said...

I wasn't a victim last April Fool's Day. I just ignored everything knowing it's only a prank. I think nobody seem to care about this day, just plain ordinary.