The other day, I told the tale of my mother Betty Lou, and mentioned that lovely and sweet as she was, she really didn't deal with humor all that well. She liked it, but just didn't seem to get it. I only remember her telling to two jokes in her life, and when watching movies and there there jokes, she'd regularly interrupt with, "What did he say? What was so funny?"
But for reasons no one could explain, she loved April Fool's Day. Just absolutely loved it. Lived for it. And she was so great at it, that even though everyone knew she was going to play an April Fool's Day joke on you, she still got you. She was a master. Truly a master. I'm not exaggerating. She studied it, fine-tuned its rules. (And Rule #1, basically the only real rule, was, "The joke has to be something TERRIBLE, but believable, so that the April Fool comes as a great relief.") My poor dad would get pummeled each year before he even had a chance to remember that it was April Fool's Day. I'd try to explain that to people, how she really was a master at this, and their reaction was usually, "Yeah, yeah, that's nice, she did April Fool's tricks. Cute." No, no, that's not what I mean.
As I mentioned earlier, I was trading emails with my former sister-in-law Karen the other day. By chance, she happened to bring up a story about my mother which made me think of all this. It requires a background, so let me quote from her email.
When John and I lived in Milwaukee, Betty Lou she wanted us to get to know another couple who were physicians (and children of physicians), since John was a physician, too You might remember that at that time, we were "anti-upper class culture," but we dutifully met with this couple at a fancy restaurant and chatted politely, ending the evening with the clear knowledge on all our parts that we would not be socializing regularly (or ever!) About a month later, Betty Lou called me to say they were organizing a "formal" party at a very nice club for up-and-coming physicians and their wives. She started to help me decide what we could wear (actually, what we should BUY to wear since we had no evening clothes), what to talk about, and to whom and how important this would be for all the parents as they launch their respective kids into the world of medicine. The conversation went on for a good 10 minutes before those most delicious words...April fool!"
That's what I'm talking about. That is the work of a master. That's someone who plans for April Fool's Day, works out its intricacies, and plays it out to its fullest. All this from a lovely, sweet, quiet, dear woman who only told two jokes.
Except on April Fool's Day.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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