The scene is Christmas Day 1991. Snow falls in the Chicago suburbs as an eleven year old girl in red snowman socks (that she still owns) wakes up at 7AM and runs to the tree to scope out the loot. With the ninja-like observational skills developed over her previous Christmas mornings, she immediately spots the biggest present in the bunch and – as she suspected – her name is on it. An evil genius grin spreads across her face as she patiently waits for her parents to wake up so she can finally open her new Sony 7-CD changer boombox with cassette player and remote control. And then she cried.
To this day, the tiny Color Me Badd CD that was inside that unreasonably giant gift box makes me so proud of my parents. When they finally brought my enormous boombox out of hiding, I was all the more surprised – and felt a little like a baby. Lesson learned.
Due to their priceless teachings, I now pride myself on elusive gift wrappings, undetectable surprise parties, and practical jokes of any kind. I’m also confident that I’m too good at fooling to ever be fooled. So in honor of April Fool’s Day, I’d like to pass along a few keys to the perfect hoax, so you can learn from my successes and mistakes:
1. Do keep your cohorts to a minimum: Don’t brag about a surprise party to someone who isn’t invited and don’t ask your friend’s parents if you can teepee their house. Trust me.
2. Do go big: I once hid an 8-foot pool table from my live-in boyfriend for over a week, although this may say more about him then it does about me.
3. Do stay quiet: My greatest prank went on for five years because I never told a soul and was only discovered at all due to a small clerical error. I don’t plan to describe it here because I’m doing it again right now, but there is something magical about the payoff a years-long prank. I now abide by the “five year rule.” (Two years to go and I can reveal!)
4. Do think outside the box: If you can look under a Christmas tree and identify a calendar, DVD or book you are doing it wrong. This is why man created refrigerator boxes.
5. Do document the evidence: When they don’t believe it was you who wrapped every piece of their workspace in tinfoil last April Fool’s Day, it will be much better if there’s a picture to prove it. (See, Eric I told you it was me.)
6. Do get creative: Toilet-papering your prom date’s house is for Juniors. The big leaguers pull out the light up snowmen, string hundreds of balloons across the driveway, hang yoyos from every tree in the yard fill your car with packing peanuts. At least I assume they do.
7. Don’t plan: It’s hard to get someone else’s wheels spinning if you have no idea what you’re doing yourself. Just go for it and see what happens.
8. Don’t care: When your friend tells the whole world someone took her Rome snow globe and left a creepy magazine-lettered ransom note in its place? This is of absolutely no interest to you. Coworker mentions someone keeps swapping the carrots in her lunch with chocolate chip cookies? Change the subject.
9. Don’t lie or deny: Foolin’ is one thing but nobody likes a liar. Besides, a well-timed “I’m flattered you think I could pull off such an epic prank” or “do you really think I’d spend three hours and thirty-two minutes of my precious life wrapping tin foil around each individual key on your keyboard?” is much more fun for everyone.
10. Don’t brag: It’s hard to pull off a repeat performance once you get a reputation.
It’s interesting that I get to attribute my sneaky side to Mom and Dad, but to this day they are the only ones who have ever truly surprised me. I’m making plans to return the favor and taking ideas.
What’s the best prank you ever a part of?