Wednesday, February 13, 2013

No Fool like an Old Fool

By Babs Mountjoy

I remember thinking as a child it would be horrible to have your birthday on Christmas. You know, you’d never get enough presents, people would forget in all the holiday hoopla, you might be traveling and never be able to have a birthday party with your friends.
So I must have been blessed, since I didn’t have a birthday on Christmas. I got it on April Fool’s Day instead.
This, as you may have imagined, has engendered hundreds of jokes over the years. Some of them have even had class. I’m told my fisherman grandfather’s first comment was “Throw her back–she’s too small!” (Back in the 1950s, 5 lbs. 6 oz., was still the kind of baby you just sent home, because there wasn’t all this whiz-bang preemie stuff.) There have been standard variations on the clear fingernail-polished soap, the Handi-wrapped toilet seat, little pranks of all sorts over the years, all done, as their culprits insisted, in good fun. But three stand out.

The first was in my senior year of high school, when my locker was the first one right outside my humorless English teacher’s homeroom. My dear friends conspired to fill my locker with pingpong balls, balloons and other noisy clap-trap, so when I opened it in the morning, it all fell out on the floor. While Norma was standing there. Giving ME a look like it was all my fault. Did you ever try to contain fifty pingpong balls while the morning class bell was ringing? I bet you didn’t.

The second was when my dashing single father let the woman he was seeing tell me they were getting married. She was horrid to begin with, a prissy little clerical worker of some sort, and she flashed this huge-stoned ring about, talking about how she’d be moving in any day, etc. Granted I was still in high school, and it probably wouldn’t have been a bad idea to have a mother there, so I could quit raising my sisters while my father worked. All the same, it was just some kind of joke, at least to someone.

The last one was the birthday party my sister threw for me some ten years ago, when she served this beautifully decorated cake, cut it and handed the pieces out. She insisted of course, as the birthday girl, that I have the first piece, so I took a big bite, grateful for her effort. It was all I could do not to spit it out–she’d iced and decorated a huge cornbread. What a shock.

I’ve never understood practical jokes. While I appreciate the intent, it seems to me they mostly hurt people who aren’t prepared. By all means, pranksters should tag pranksters– they eat it up. The rest of us? We do enough to ourselves.

Writer Cynthia Heimel says, “When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.”

I’ll take the plunge. But I’m taking a parachute along, just in case. This time, I want to share the laugh at the end.

 Barbara “Babs” Mountjoy has written since she was a little girl, unable to restrain the stories that percolated through her fingers onto her keyboard – or, back then, onto the old Royal typewriter. Babs has been a published author for more than thirty-five years, with a number of publications under her belt. Her non-fiction book, 101 LITTLE INSTRUCTIONS FOR SURVIVING YOUR DIVORCE, was published by Impact Publishers in 1999. Her first novel, THE ELF QUEEN, was released under the pen name Lyndi Alexander in 2010. THE ELF QUEEN launched her Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series, under which the second and third titles, THE ELF CHILD and THE ELF MAGE, released in 2011 and 2012. Wild Rose Press released her romantic suspense novels, SECRETS IN THE SAND, in 2011, and, CONVICTION OF THE HEART, in June 2012. Will Rose Press will also release Babs’ THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE in September 2012. Zumaya Publications published her women’s fiction title, SECOND CHANCES, in July 2012. Babs is a contributor to two CUP OF COMFORT anthologies. She blogs about autism, writing and life at, and spent seven years of her career as a news reporter and editor in South Florida. Her romances/womens fiction books are published under the pen name Alana Lorens, and her fantasy/sci-fi under the pen name Lyndi Alexander.


Author JM Kelley said...

I'm a Thanksgiving baby, born on the holiday in 74. Granted, my birthday doesn't always fall on the holiday, but no matter what, my day is tainted by either turkey prep or turkey leftovers. This year, my birthday and Thanksgiving fall on the same day, so yes, that means...turkey. But at least I'll have a guaranteed day off this year. It's the little victories, right?

Anonymous said...

Or just shake em all up one year and have take out Chinese. :)

grholton said...

I got lucky. My birthday is always the end of May and I used to spend Memorial Day weekend with my grandparents. It was wonderful. As with the Thanksgiving birthday, I too sometimes get a holiday on my birthday.

................................ Kevin Parsons said...

My brother Bill was born on August first. Mom said he came with all the other bills.

Donna B said...

I have a great birthday - mid-July - wonderful day for summer barbecues or a day at the lake...until I got married and gee, how lucky could I be? My sister-in-law has the same birthday. In the 20+ years we've been married I have not once gotten to celebrate my birthday without her. I guess it doesn't matter what date it falls on, there's always something or someone honing in on your fun! LOL