poissonI grew up surrounded by astrology. Maybe it was being born in the late 70s. Maybe it was being born in Boulder, CO. Either way, I recall that when I moved to Boston, people were rather put off when I asked them their “sign.”

“Hi, My names is Alison, I am an Aries, what is your sign?” was not an appropriate greeting for the serious and savvy Eastern crowd. I was surprised, but not crushed. When I was at University, I had a friend whose mom called once to warn us that “Mercury” would be in retrograde during finals week. And I had another friend who was very anxious to help me determine my rising sign.

It’s been a while since I have looked at any astrological charts, but if I remember correctly, I am an Aries with a Taurus rising. Really all that means is that I am stubborn. Very stubborn. My husband says I am a donkey. I say “thank you” because, like my grandmothers, I am rather fond of both donkeys and goats. Some people like dogs. I’d prefer a goat. Oddly enough Aries are also goats (rams).

My Birthday is April 16. My mom has a big encyclopedia of Astrological birthdays. According to her book, the 16th of April is known as the “King of Comedy.” Charlie Chaplin was born on April 16th, so I’ll perhaps the book is right. Personally, I have always been rather fond of jokes. And laughter. When I meet people I have not seen for years, they often do not recognize me until I smile. Then they often say: “oh! how could I forget that smile.” This makes me smile even more!

A love of laughter also translates into a love for April Fool’s Day. As a kid, I used to always plan my jokes ahead of time. My biggest failure was setting my dad’s alarm for 4 AM (he usually got up at 8). He runs on autopilot, so he was already out of bed, turning on the coffee pot and preparing to shower when he realized what had happened. Fortunately, my mom was away on a business trip that day…because needless to say, my father was not very pleased. (for a good 20 years my mom was always away for an annual a conference in early to mid-April)

My biggest success was planting fake plastic ants in my dad’s bed. My dad was probably about as pleased with the ants as he was with the alarm clock, but it was more of a success because it actually worked. I’d bought the ants in anticipation, a few weeks previously from my favorite toy store, Grand Rabbits. I’d gotten the idea because living in a rural part of the Rocky Mountains in a frame house, we often got ant visitors. My parents kept the house meticulously clean, but periodically, they still found their way in.

On the weekends, my dad didn’t set his alarm and he often liked to sleep in until about 10 am. He is also a very sound sleeper. And so, around 8 AM, I snuck into his bedroom and stealthily planted about 20 black plastic ants around my dad in the sheets and then trailing off towards the closet window. And I waited.

I can’t tell you what my dad said because my blog would likely be censored. You can be confident that his language very, very colorful. The trick was a success because as soon as my dad moved through the various stages of horror and his initial anger at me planting the ants, he laughed and laughed.

My dad is the one who taught me to play practical jokes and he is probably more culpable in my love of a good laugh than the “King of Comedy,” otherwise known as April 16. My dad has always loved a good prank, but he was very, very serious in his instructions: practical jokes cannot hurt anyone. If you hurt someone (emotionally, physically, their property, etc.) the joke is no longer a joke.

Here in France, instead of April Fools Day, we have the “April Fish” or “Poisson d’avril.” The French also play jokes, including cutting out paper fish that they then write funny things (or insults) on. They then try to sneakily stick them to your back. This year my son wore his mustache glasses to class on Friday. His classmates were quite pleased.

What are your favorite April Fools Day tricks and stories?

If you liked this post share it or sign up for alerts. I will be writing every day this month!