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Predictability of April Fool’s Day demands change to more effective month

By Graham von Carlowitz, Opinion Editor

I spent Feb. 1 and 2 of this year contacting the seven other people who call themselves my siblings - as well as their significant others - relaying to them the best (and only) practical joke my maniacal brain has ever come up with.

With the help of the effective attention-hogging technology of the cell phone, they sent out variations of "Happy Birthday, Jackass!" to Jackson, my 17-year-old brother, on Feb. 3 - exactly one week before his real one.

As a 17-year-old, one should know when to collect the candles and prepare for the impending cake coma. But when the birthday boy is the second to last child in a family that consistently neglects to restock the fundamental jar of peanut butter, remembering Feb. 10 can be challenging.

After having received confirmation from each sibling of successfully sent birthday wishes, I asked Jackson if he had enjoyed the whole spiel as much as we had. He responded promptly:

"Considering the fact that I actually texted mom to ask when my birthday was and my chemistry class sang 'Happy Birthday' to me then yes, I suppose I did."

At that point, April Fool's Day was an aggressive stone's throw away - nearly 60 days from the month's start - and that is precisely why the prank evoked Jackson's priceless response. He never saw a February Fool's Day coming. Today, April 1, marks a day that is all too predictable, at least in America.

A year ago today, I found myself in a shabby automobile in the outskirts of Florence, as a misfit, clownish Italian by the name of Alessandro (standing 6'2" and with bright-orange, curly hair) escorted my friend and myself into the city. To eliminate the awkwardness that pervades during such a ride (I had asked him if honey was a good product here in Italy, which resulted only in a few bobs of his cartoon-sized head), he began to explain the Italian custom to hide fish in unexpected places on April 1.

Only, he continued, he was above such tomfoolery and had decided to take this day a little more seriously. Holding back his laugh throughout, he struggled to say that, this year, he awoke at 4 a.m. to call his assistant at the Military Affairs office, insisting that he come into work immediately.

"Antonio! You must now listen! There are, eh, 100 at least people here yelling. I need you come in, now please!"

My friend and I exchanged glances, waiting for a hallmark whimsical conclusion. We wanted him to say, "But before he leave, I tell him April Fools!" or "But I meet him there and we drink espresso. Good, no?"

Those would have been humane outcomes, but humanity was not spared this time. The story ended with this poor Italian rushing to work at 4:30 a.m., only to be met with locked doors and a presumed loathing for his boss.

The cruel prank made no one laugh (save for the psychotic clown). But here I want to emphasize not so much the Italians' satanic sense of humor, but more so the downward spiral of April Fool's Day. When we've gotten to this point-- -- that is, when even Italians are using the day to hide fish or carry out otherwise fishy pranks - the joke has gone too far. The day is too widely-known.

Wikipedia highlights that histories of the day's origin struggle to find common ground, and perhaps this is indication of the day's demise. Arbitrarily chosen, April does not shine particularly bright among the 11 other options, so why April Fool's Day?

February Fool's Day has a catchy ring to it, so why can't we just change the date?

Why restrict pranks to a named day when the comic ingenuity thrives on unpredictability? I'll tell you why. It's because April is the most boring month on the calendar, the butterless popcorn of months, and, as such, deserves one day to help people remember it exists …

I'm only kidding! April Fools! It's actually the second most boring; January is unpopped popcorn - a motionless, jokeless bore.