Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The Joker

Place: Taco John's
Lunch: Three hard shells, small Super Ole (no tomato, no guac), Pepsi

It's April Fools Day.  Apparently, the April Fools joke at this particular Taco John's is to do everything reeeeeealy slooooowly.

I've been seeing the usual April Foolery in the form of fake news stories and social media shenanigans.  Then there was the big CBS show swap, where Craig Ferguson and Drew Carey swapped shows.  But I don't count that because it was heavily promoted and acknowledged.  If Carey had just shown up on the Late Late Show and Ferguson had just shown up on TPIR with no explanation...maybe even using each other's names...it would have counted.  Having said that, Carey did a phenomenal show last night.  As far as I'm concerned, Carey just became the beginning and end of the list of people who should eventually replace Letterman.  Carey and Ferguson would be a knock-out late night punch.

My April Fools joke?  I left my office calendar on March.  In related news, I'm not much of a practical joker.  In fact, I can't even think of any good practical jokes I've ever planned.  Except for that one time where the payoff came completely by accident.

We lived on a remote island of 13,000 in my teenage years.  There was no road access to the place, so reliance on boats and aircraft was big.  My family fell somewhere between 'poor' and 'middle income' and generally we either didn't have a washer and dryer, or we had a broken washer and dryer.  When I got my drivers license, I ended up alternating laundry duty with my mother.  Every two weeks, one of us would haul about a half dozen ginormous garbage bags of laundry down to the laundromat and take up an entire row of machines.

The laundromat was in a strip mall next to the biggest harbor in town.  Big boats, small boats, yachts, fishing boats, house boats, hundreds of every sort of privately owned boat you could imagine were docked here.  As a result, this laundromat got a lot of 'boat people' business, be it from people who lived on their boats to transient traffic passing through.  Like all laundromats, this one had a community bulletin board on the wall where people posted "for sale" or "wanted to buy" items.  This board was always packed with 3x5 cards.  As you would expect, the majority of items were boat related.

So I'm sitting there with the washing machines running, bored out of my mind, reading the bulletin board, thinking about how weird all this stuff would look like on the bulletin board of any other laundromat in the civilized world.  And I decided to write up a card myself as a joke.  Something that people would question, but just be plausible enough to let it pass.

WANTED TO BUY: Shower head for 50hp Mercury outboard motor.  Must be rust free.

I put the phone number of a public radio station 150 miles away as the contact with no name.  I figured nobody'd actually call because they'd have to pay long distance, and even if they did, their receptionist at best would just put a note on THEIR bulletin board in an effort to get the message to whoever of their fifty volunteers might have posted such a thing.

People would just look at it, maybe question it, then let it go.

And that was the end of that.

Or so I thought.



"Yes, Mother?"

"Did you put something on the bulletin board at the laundromat?"

She was standing in the dining room of our palatial double-wide, mixing bowl with spoon in hand, making dinner.

After a pause, I asked "Why?"

And then she told this story...

"Well, your brother and I were doing the laundry, and he was reading the bulletin board, and he said  "Mom, doesn't that look like Sam's handwriting?"

"Yes it does."

"Mom, why would somebody want a shower head for an outboard motor?"

"Well, fisherman want some pretty strange things sometimes."

I FELL ON THE FLOOR laughing.  Probably into a fetal position.  Tears streaming down my face.  Hysterical laughter.

I could not have envisioned this payoff in a MILLION years.

At some point, I looked up at her.  She was standing over me with this completely dumbfounded look on her face.  She had NO idea why this was funny, and I was making NO effort to explain it.  Eventually, she just shrugged her shoulders and went back to the kitchen.

It's probably ironic that the best joke I've ever pulled off was something only I laughed at or even understood, and that it happened completely by accident.

But even today, it still makes me laugh.