April 2, 2000



Buffalo Bound


This is the entry where I don my dancing shoes, do a little Shuffle Off To Buffalo, and generally try to do some spin control on my April Fool's Day entry that is blowing up in my face. It's probably going to sound a lot like "But... But... But..." and should make for quite a show. Maestro? Cue the band, please...

But it was a joke!

April Fool's Day, the one day of the year set aside for practical jokes. How cool is that? We have days celebrating religious events, a day for romance, each country has a day celebrating its own birthday, days celebrating fallen heroes and important historical figures, and we even have a day celebrating trees, fer Chrissakes. How cool is it that we also have a day for gags? Not so cool, according to a few of my readers.

I'm not that big into practical jokes, believe it or not. April Fool's Day usually comes and goes without my even noticing it, and when I do notice I usually don't act on it. But this year, with this gag... It was so obvious and so easy. I figured "What the hell?" Here's what I thought would happen: I'd do my gag and most of you would see through it.

[Actually, that's not quite true. Owing to the low volume of mail I get from my readers, I figured most of you would just ignore it.]

Anyway... I also thought I might get a few extra e-mails out of it. I anticipated that a few regulars -- the five or so of you who DO write -- would write to say good-bye, and a few others would write to say "don't let the doorknob hit you in the ass on the way out -- or better yet, DO let it hit you, and hard." I thought I'd then use those e-mails (sans identification, of course) as fodder and content for the next entry, wherein I would bitch about how nobody even noticed that I was(n't) gone.

Well, I underestimated something somewhere along the line. Either it was how well I could sell the gag, or how many of you were actually paying attention, or how many of you actually cared... Whatever it was, the e-mail I got surprised the hell out of me. And the more I got, the worse I felt.

I got just one e-mail of the flavor I was expecting, a nice "You rat bastard!" from my pal Steve's wife. (She's really a lovely person, way deep down inside, honest she is. At least that's what Steve tells me when she lets him talk to me.) The rest of the mail was really sincere, really touching stuff. People saying how much they'd enjoyed reading me, how much they'd miss me, wishing me well, etc.

The first one or two of these surprised me. Flattered and touched me, yes, but they also surprised me. The next few made me squirm a bit. Then a few more, and a few more, and I started feeling like a big old shitheel. People were opening themselves up to me, telling me how much they cared, and my plan was to jump up and yell "April Fool!!!" at them. Suddenly this didn't seem so fun anymore. My little practical joke -- which wasn't all that funny to begin with -- was turning into something hurtful.

Shit. Don't you just hate it when a plan falls to pieces?

To those of you who feel betrayed or hurt or foolish or whatever... I'm sorry, I really am. I didn't see this thing turning this way and it was never my intent to cause anyone any angst. I appreciate the letters and the sentiments and the good wishes and everything else, especially since I didn't know I'd touched so many people so deeply. One reader suggested that "you take your skills and talent for granted, perhaps, and are surprised at how much of an effect you elicit," and I think that hits the nail right on the head. I had no idea. If I had, I wouldn't have pulled the gag.

I'm sorry. That's really all I can say. I wasn't trying to get over on anyone or be vindictive or anything negative like that -- I was just pulling a simple April Fool's Day prank...and it backfired. I guess that makes me the fool.

Mark Twain said, "The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year. " You all showed your true colors yesterday. Hopefully, what you saw weren't mine.