The Prank

This week much of the world celebrated April Fools’ Day on April 1. In France, they attach a paper fish to their victim’s back and shout, “April fish!” In Scotland, they send fake messages requesting help. In Denmark, they tell jokes.

In North America, April Fools’ Day usually consists of pranks, or practical jokes. Because after all, a prank is light-hearted fun for all… unless something goes horribly wrong.

***

My friend Kyla had come to visit me for a few days and was packing up her suitcase to go home. She was lamenting how time flies (and how!) and that soon it would be April (the very next day), and then May, and then June and then she’d be another year older.

Something caught my interest: April. It dawned on me that the very next day was April 1st, also known as April Fools’ Day in some parts of the world (not India!).

Kyla finished folding her jeans and t-shirts, brushed her teeth and then said she was going to turn in early. Her bus left at 8am and she didn’t want to be late.

My friend Jason was going to take her to the station the next morning to catch her bus home. Kyla asked me to write down Jason’s phone number and leave it on the counter, so she could call him in the morning to make sure he was up and at it.

It was at that moment, I thought of the ultimate prank*.

I said good-night and headed to my room. Within a few minutes I heard snoring coming from the living room. I wondered if Kyla was playing an early prank on me, so I went to see if she was really sleeping. It appeared that she was really sleeping, so I set right to work, preparing for the ultimate prank*.

In those days… the days before http://www.whitepages.com, there was something called a “phone book”, which listed people’s names and phone numbers, and was arranged in alphabetical order by last name. It was printed on something called “paper”, which is a thin material used for writing or printing on.

I opened the “phone book” and scanned the pages, looking for the first name Jason. I wasn’t looking for my friend Jason’s number, I was looking for a random “Jason”. I quickly found a “Jason” (the 24th most popular name for boys), wrote down the corresponding phone number and left it on the counter for Kyla.

The next morning, I wandered into the living room to find Kyla looking very confused. I laughed, slapped my knee, and then pointed to the little box on the calendar for April 1st.

Kyla shook her head as she recounted the events of that morning:

Kyla had called the number and asked for Jason. A woman answered, and asked who was calling. Kyla said, “Kyla”. The woman told Kyla it was very early to be calling (7am). The woman then asked how Kyla knew Jason. Kyla said that Jason was a friend of Kim’s. The woman then asked why Kyla was calling. Kyla said that Jason was supposed to give her a ride to the bus station. The woman then called Jason and handed him the phone. Jason got on the phone. Kyla asked Jason whether he was still able to give her a ride to the bus station. Jason said, “Who is this?” Kyla said, “Kyla.” Jason said he didn’t know anyone by the name of Kyla. Kyla reminded him that she was a friend of Kim’s, and that she had a bus to catch. The woman then began to yell at Jason and then the phone went dead.

I thought a prank was light-hearted fun for all, but it’s not so fun for the victim (as the victims often feel “victimized”).

It was probably not so fun for Jason, as he fielded questions from his wife or girlfriend (or, mother) as to why a girl named Kyla was expecting a ride to the bus station, and who “Kim” was. He would try to tell his wife or girlfriend (or, mother) that he didn’t know anyone named Kyla or Kim, but they wouldn’t believe him… because they called and asked for “Jason”.

***

So, this week when much of the world celebrated April Fools’ on April 1st with what they perceived to be harmless pranks, or practical jokes, I sat home, alone, somber… remembering and regretting my “prank”.

* What I perceived to be “the ultimate prank”.

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