I love the Ukraine. They’re the only country on Planet Earth that recognizes April Fool’s as a national holiday. You gotta love a nation like that, although, for me, every day is April Fool’s Day.
Mwa. Ha ha…
There’s debate as to how AFD started. In the Middle Ages, the New Year was celebrated the end of March. Those who celebrated it any other time were considered fools. France became the first country to switch from the old Roman/Julian to the modern Gregorian calendar in 1564. That’s one theory.
However, in 1561, there was a Flemish poet and nobleman, Eduard de Dene. Every April 1, Eddie’d send his servants on madcap errands — fool’s errands. By 1564 in England, April Fool’s Day was already a thriving tradition. One of my favorite historical tidbits was a reference to April 1, 1698. Several people were tricked into visiting the Tower of London “…to see the Lions washed.”
I think we could pull that one today at Hart Park.
Decades ago, I changed my name to John Boston. I came in as the Polish sun god, Walter Stanislav Cieplik Jr. By my 20s, I discovered I was losing several minutes a day either spelling or pronouncing my last name. The local gossip columnist, Signal editor and high-holy arbiter of propriety, Ruth Newhall, often pointed out, with glee, that I was mispronouncing “Cieplik.”
“‘I’ before ‘E’ except after ‘C…’” She made the case that I should refer to myself as “SEE-plick…” Then, she’d giggle at her cleverness.
I never had the courage to snidely retort: “Yeah thanks for the hot tip — Roooot…”
Being a practical joker from many lifetimes, my own name was my penance for a life gone wrong. Somehow, I got onto junk mail lists of endless companies and government agencies. Fish & Game religiously wrote to both Walt Cieplik and Walt Dieplik. Dieplik. Seems like a Shakespearean curse.
There’s still a custom in Nordic countries to publish one and only one made-up story in ALL the various newspapers but not above the fold of the front page. I’ve pulled enough April Fool’s newspaper jokes to land me in Hades until the sun stops glowing. I once penned a Mr. SCV column for the newly arrived, promising there was a farm WAY up Bouquet Canyon that grew baked potatoes — piping hot out of the ground. They even cross-pollinated the taters with spices that made the tubers taste like they were splashed with hot butter, parsley and sour cream.
I wrote a think piece on our local and possibly fictional nudist colony “just off Stevenson Ranch” with the neat gift store nearby that rented binoculars. Another time? A newbie wrote me, noting she had a teen son and did I know any local hotspots dripping with atmosphere where he could take his date for dinner, post-prom?
Well hell yes.
I recommended The Way Station, but forgot to mention they closed at 2 p.m. I also suggested a fictional 5-star restaurant (“The Wooden Table”) in the national forest. Outdoor dining. Inspiring views. All the spiritual texts I’ve read over the years, I really should feel bad about mother and son driving up 40 miles of bad dirt road to a condor refuge. Mom was not happy. On the bright side, she gave it to Ruth broadside, not me. Ruth merely repeated an oft-asked question: “What is WRONG with you?”
Instead of remorse, I felt a profound and comforting sense of dark, twisted, un-Christian joy over the two of them exploring parts of the Ridge Route where no white man has ever tread.
I won’t get a call from my childhood pal, Curtis Stone today. We’re hyper-alert April Fool’s veterans. We feel April Fool’s, on a sub-cellular level.
Curtis, still a famous musician, years ago was on tour with Three Dog Night. Curtis toyed with my emotions. 3DN needed a back-jacket to their new album and wanted it funny. Could I design it? Please? It only paid $10,000, but I could probably knock it out in a couple days. Curtie gave me the private telephone number of the producer, Felix. Or I could ask for Kitty if Felix was busy. It was the direct number of the director of the Los Angeles Animal Shelter.
Har har har har har.
I remember watching that large wad of hundred dollar bills with angel’s wings, sadly flying away.
Curt and I both kept post office boxes on 8th Street then. He was on a concert tour for three months and asked if I’d pick up his mail.
Every day, I collected ALL the junk mail from the paper and a few other institutions. I filled eight 50-gallon giant plastic bags with several thousand pieces of correspondence, fliers, magazines, ads and Fish & Game notices for both a Mr. Cieplik and a Mr. Dieplik. I mixed Curtis’s mail in with the post office landslide. Another time? I ran a large quarter-page display ad in The Signal. It called for 25 people for “light yard work, no experience necessary,” and promised $35 an hour, good money in the 1970s. It proved it pays to advertise in The Signal because Dear Buddy Curtis took in several hundred calls.
For two years, I convinced my younger sibling-like substance Willie I was married to country superstar, Linda Ronstadt. I’ve removed front car seats from people who never crossed me and have taken vegans to steak houses.
Curtis once observed that it’s a good thing I’ve some sense of boundaries and treasured our childhood friendship, otherwise, he’d be dead.
I wouldn’t go that far.
But, it doesn’t hurt to ponder.
For the Ukrainians, just how far does the April Fool’s envelope stretch when it comes to invading Russians?
The SCV’s John Boston is the most prolific satirist in Earth’s history. Today is April Fool’s. Stay on his good side. Visit his bookstore at johnbostonbooks.com. and buy something. And today don’t forget to throw a concrete cream pie at Vladimir Putin…