Hello, Dad, I’m –
Spring semester my freshman year of college, I called home from Bowling Green one night after dinner.
My younger brother answered the phone. I was terse, trying not to bark: “Nick. It’s John. Get Dad.”
Dad: “What’s up?”
Me: “I’m in jail. I was in someone’s room, and there were drugs, and even though I wasn’t doing any, they arrested all of us who were there.”
I kept Dad on the hook for another sentence or two, working hard to mix frustration and tension and anxiety into my voice while also not cracking up, before springing the “April Fool!” on him. And he laughed – after a deep exhalation and a “Don’t DO that!” – because laughing and jokes were always big on Dad’s to-do-list.
That was 20 years ago today.
Although Dad was around for three more April Firsts, I never bothered trying to top that phone call, though we revisited it when the date rolled around.
And yes, now that I have a teenage daughter, I can totally see how utterly not-freaking-funny-at-all it might be to someone who didn’t have Dad’s patience and particular sense of humor. (Case in point: You will note that I did not call home asking for Mom. Patience and a generous sense of humor, sure – you can’t raise three boys without both, I’d imagine – but I’d been such a royal pain in the ass as a teenager that I think I threw off the calibration of Mom’s threshold for crap like this.)
My Dad loved jokes. Loved laughing at other people’s jokes, loved passing along the jokes he heard and loved getting other people to laugh. Some of my favorite mental snapshots are of Dad laughing so hard that he’s crying and gasping for breath, the wrinkles at the corners of his eyes carved deep.
All of which make for a Happy April Fool’s Day.
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