Monday, April 02, 2012

Reader's Diary #815- T. S. Arthur: The April Fool

Before Debbie and I got married and moved away, she and my dad were constantly playing pranks on one another. The best came after a long weekend visit to my parents while we were still university students. On the bus ride back, Debbie went to put on her jacket when she realized that the ends of her sleeves had been sewn together. It didn't stop there. Back in her dorm, opening her overnight bag, she noticed that her clothes were slightly fishy smelling. It turns out that he also had snuck a few dried capelin into her things. That week, she managed to find a few fresh capelin and sent those off by mail to my father, along with a note saying that while she appreciated the gift of fish, the ones he had given her hadn't been the freshest and so she was offering him better quality fish, so he would know better in the future. Oddly, this letter yielded no results. No calls. No return pranks, nothing. It was then that Debbie began to worry. To backtrack a little, I was rooming with a biology student who had been studying bees in Utah and who had gotten himself into a wee bit of trouble by trying to send samples through the mail. Some of the vials, it seems, had broken open spilling dead bees and some sort of preservative liquid over other people's mail, much to the angry dismay of Canada Post. While fines were discussed, he was fortunately let off with a warning. But what if, Debbie worried, something similar had happened to her fish gift? Supposing it had started to rot and ruined someone else's mail? Unfortunately I thought I'd get to the bottom of it and asked my parents if they'd ever received the "present" and I mentioned what Debbie's concerns were. While they claimed ignorant of any gift, it gave them exactly the ammunition they needed. A month later an official looking letter showed up, complete with Canada Post letterhead and quotes about the violation of subsection blah blah blah, threatening a minimum fine of $5000 or up to 1 year imprisonment. It took a few tears on Debbie's part for anyone to come clean but after that a truce was called and the pranks have all but stopped. Yesterday, for April Fool's, Debbie had a hand in my daughter's prank (replacing my drinking water with vinegar), but I kind of miss the practical joke feud.

On that note, I went looking for an April Fool's Day story and came across a tale by T. S. Arthur, an American author of the 1800s, apparently known for writing moralistic tales. "The April Fool" is pleasant enough, but knowing Arthur's penchant for teaching lessons, isn't overly surprising (basically an April Fool's joke doesn't exactly go as planned and the jokester gets his just desserts). Some of the language is a bit stiff and unnecessary ("the timepiece on the mantle, the hands of which pointed to the figure ten"), but in the span of a few pages is certainly tolerable. Overall, it's a fine, clean story, mildly amusing, albeit quite forgettable. And I don't think it'd inspire my father to pick up the sewing needle again.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)


Allison said...

Ha! Sounds like some good pranks have been played over the years.

I'm not really into pranks myself, but I appreciate the thought that goes into them.

Julie @ Read Handed said...

Hilarious! What a fun family you have. I've been slacking on my short story Mondays posts of late, but I'm back on track today with a bit about Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado."

Loni said...

I love a good prank.

I read an odd story this week.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You have the best parents, EVER!

Off to read!

Teddy Rose said...

LOL! Those were quite the pranks!

"forgettable", I have so many shorts to read, I think I;ll skip that one.
I read a good one: