I love April Fool’s day. And it’s only gotten better with the rise of the internet. You have Think Geek’s phony products, reddit’s annual prank, Google, Netflix….they all seem to be in on the April Fool’s merriment. There’s also the individual pranks. This year in Dead Memories Portland, I convinced a good portion of the group that they would discontinue selling Best Food’s Mayonaise in favor of selling Hellman’s nationwide. Some were exhuberant, some not so. I’m pretty sure there’s some that still don’t know it’s a joke. There’s also the string of silly pranks – tape on the bottom of a coworker’s optical mouse, or maybe a fake roach on their desk. And of course, there’s the “I’m pregnant / engaged / coming out of the closet / quitting the internet and ecetera. Some feel those are over the top, and in poor taste, but as someone who has pulled three of the four, I love them. Of course – when I pulled “I’m pregnant,” no one believed me, but that’s an entirely diffferent story.
But this is not a story about the best pranks I’ve pulled – this is the story about the best prank pulled on me. It was April 1, 1998, and it was done by my biology instructor in college. To understand the dynamics of this particular prank, I need to tell the reader about the PCC Biology department. Most people taking biology at PCC were not science majors, and therefore got to take the dumbed down biology lab. This lab was, for the most part, at the student’s own pace. We would walk into the biology lab, to the back counter, and ask for the lesson we needed. We would then recieve a box with an audio cassette, and everything we needed to complete the lesson. When we were finished with the lesson, we would finish up the worksheet, show it to the instructor at the front of the lab, and they would grade the worksheet on the spot. We could then go take the quiz for the unit at our leasure. Mind you, this sounds easy enough – but oh, oh it was not. The tests were grueling, and often times would rely you knowing the biology textbook backwards and forwards. They would have questions that were not covered in the material, which you would then have to answer throguh the process of elimination: I know the answer could not be A, B, or D, so I guess the answer is C. Probably a great way to teach those who study science, for a liberal arts major like myself – well, let’s just say I did a lot of extra credit in that class to maintain my GPA.
But I digress – you want to know about the prank! It was the first week of Spring quarter, and I was taking my first unit of 103. I remember it had to do with human reproduction, though to be honest, I don’t remember much more about the unit. The instructor was a very sciency looking older, plump woman wiht short hair. She looked very serious and no nosence, but did at times let her human side show up. Example, in this same unit I had to show her a human sperm (on a pre-prepared slide mind you). She seemed to be very excited to see it up close: “Oh, there’s the little guy!” She said with a raspy voice as she looked at a very uncomfortable me.
I had finished my worksheet, and I needed her to sign off on it. I was satisfied with it, and even figured it was one of the easier units. I handed her my paper, she looked at it, gasped, and then looked strait at me and said in her most serious tone: “Do you really expect me to accept this?” She obviously knew my deer in a headlights look, as I had just – maybe a day before – showed her a sperm. Silence. Other students gathered around the table, looking at me, me looking at her…..finally I asked: “What’s wrong with this?” She, with the same tone she had after seeing the sperm, said: “Well, for one thing, it’s April First.” She then smirked, and stamped my paper. I realiized I had just been pranked by my biology professor. She later said that she had been waiting all day for a 103 student to finish a lesson, just so she could pull this prank. It obviously gave her joy, made me laugh, and even made those aorund me laugh.
I guess that’s what made this specific joke so much fun. Yes, it was a simple joke, and my readers probably expected a more complex joke – but sometimes the simple jokes are in fact the best. It also came from a source I didn’t expect – a collegiate instructor. Someone who had power over me. Someone who could basically ruin my GPAand make me take the class over again if I looked at them the wrong way. And while it made a fool out of me, it really did make everyone involve laugh. This is the most important thing one can hope for in any joke. The pranker, the victim, and the bystanders all enjoyed the joke. This is truly a successful joke. Happy April Fool’s everyone. By the way, there’s a big huge bug on your shoulder. Made you look!