Within the first few weeks of our relationship, my boyfriend and I had told each other everything. I think that in the modern cultural lore of love, one of the ways a true "connection" with someone is established is if you have the comfort and desire to air all of your dirty laundry to them. I did this and so did he, rehashing past relationships, personal struggles and stories from childhood we had never shared with anyone else. So I was surprised when, after a few more weeks had passed, he revealed that he had two children from past relationships. And by surprised I mean fucking furious.
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We sat on the couch and he delved into a story about a girl he met in a hotel in Mexico when he was eighteen -- a temporary fling that led to a child he wasn't aware of until much later. Then he started in on another story of a different woman, but at that point I was so overwhelmed by feelings of horrific disillusionment that I had stopped listening. Part of me believed all of this because if there was anything I had gleaned from our previous exchanges of uninhibited word vomit, it was that my boyfriend was a little Romeo -- he had had more girlfriends by the time he got to high school than I had had boyfriends in my whole life.
I started ripping into him about the responsibility he had to these women to step up and blah, blah, blah. He sat there, half-smiling, letting me go on and on for several minutes before proclaiming, "April Fool's!" I don't remember the last time I was pranked by someone on this sacred holiday, but he had gotten me good. And I thought it was awesome.
Last night as I was scrolling through Facebook, I was caught off guard by how many people I knew that not only cared about the series finale of How I Met Your Mother, but were genuinely upset by it. But I was more surprised by the number of folks complaining about April Fool's Day before it had even begun.
I guess when you grow up, you lose your ability to find the fun in being tricked. I personally enjoy having my leg pulled, but then again, it is very easy to pull my leg because I am naive and will fall for almost anything. As a child, I'm pretty sure I asked my dad every day what we were having for dinner and every day his answer was "bear's eyeballs." I would tailspin into an overreacting mess because there was no way I was going to eat something so disgusting. Luckily, we were never served bears eyeballs, but I still had a meltdown about it -- every day.
Maybe it's that folks are doing it wrong altogether -- it seems that April Fool's Day for adults isn't about physical pranks, but emotional ones, stories driven by the terror and fear of adulthood. I pulled a prank of this kind a while back when I announced my engagement to a male friend who is gay on Facebook. It was intended to be performance art of sorts, an open protest to same-sex marriage ban happening in Colorado.
But the joke was taken literally. People I barely knew were congratulating me. My family was all kinds of pissed that I didn't tell them sooner. A single move on Facebook had set off a firestorm of congratulatory messages, even from people I talked to every day and had to know there was no man in my life. We believe what we want to believe.
A few weeks after my boyfriend's April Fool's Day baby-daddy trickery, I was able to return the jab. I hadn't planned on paybacks, but as we were having lunch in the bourgie cafe inside Nordstrom, a relationship from my past came up in conversation. The person I was involved with in this old relationship was someone my boyfriend knew and maybe wasn't so fond of. I was able build on his dislike for the guy by convincing him that eight years ago, I had gotten married to the undesirable suitor. I am, after all, six years older than my honey and no longer carry my given birth last name. It was an easy sell.
I let him fume for a bit, his Incredible Hulk-like tendencies visibly stewing inside his slight frame. But I couldn't take seeing him actually get mad for more than a few minutes, so I told him the truth. Damn if it didn't feel good to trick someone else.
The key to a successful April Fool's Day is maybe not to just post a status update or send a mass text about getting engaged or pregnancy or any of the other things we both fear and love about adulthood -- get creative. Write a story in your mind that is more detailed than a flash of 140 characters. Challenge yourself to a little bit of make-believe. I personally like being teased and tricked because, despite it totally sucking most of the time, being gullible is also fun.
Get a little more innovative with your lies. Challenge yourself to think outside of the parameters of what makes making being a grown-up easily scary -- because being pregnant isn't scary. I mean, I can only guess that it's not terrifying all of the time, just based on how many people have been pregnant since the dawn of time.
Or, just cover the toilet bowl with plastic wrap and call it good. You're bound to make at least one person in your life pee on themselves. I just hope it's the person using social networking to show just how dumb being a grown-up can be when you refuse to have fun.
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