In which Patty Melt Chases a Deer to Wendys
April 2, 2009 § 12 Comments
I’d like to break format this week in order to give a shout out to my parents, who I believe had children for the sole purpose of poking them with emotional sticks and having a captive audience for their buffoonery. How many times did my mother regale me with tales of her role as Anne Sullivan in The Miracle Worker with hushed tones of memory holding fast to greatness? Will I ever live up to the afternoon drive D.J. stylings of my dad, FLASH THUNDER on Columbia College radio? My college radio name was Patty Melt, and believe me, she won no awards.
But reader, do not think I say these things out of some kind of bitterness. On the contrary, I think it beats a lot of other reasons for reproduction i.e., a living dress form, a companion for your maltese, a plump christmas dinner…
I say it because yesterday was April Fools and I was reminded via a discussion with my coworkers that I am, contrary to my street tough, sarcastic, whatchoo talkin’ about willis attitude, THE. MOST. GULLIBLE. PERSON. IN AMERICA. And if that’s a superlative too negative for this crowd let’s say I have a strong respect for the honesty of authority.
As a child I was nerd of many colors, a good child who did exactly what her parents told her. And more importantly, didn’t do what her parents told her NOT to do. My earliest memories of bowing unquestionably to authority was on the road to Six Flags Great America up in Gurnee, IL. As you trundle along up I-94 to get to Great America (whoever sees the top of the American Eagle rollercoaster first wins), you have to go under an overpass that is a rest area. It’s a rest area that goes OVER THE STREET.
KIDS, DO YOU HEAR WHAT I’M SAYING?
So in essence, you can sit and eat your lunch and look out the windows and watch the cars drive under you. For a five or six year old, that’s a whole afternoon’s worth of fun. So naturally, whenever we approached this overpass, I would ask if we could stop there and go to Wendys. This was preposterous. We were never allowed to stop when dad was driving. Even when mysister was struck by a painful, evil bout of *ahem* the…green apple quick steps, if you know what i mean, my dad told her to let loose in a styrofoam cup which he then tossed out the window. Tell THAT one to your local ecology major.
My dad said NO, we couldn’t go to Wendy’s, that we were making good time. Each year I asked, each year I got a no. Finally, when I was approaching my tween years, I ventured to throw back a “WHY NOT?” at him, just to persevere somehow. And my father, a good Christian man of virtue, turned in his seat and told me,
“Because that’s where the gorillas live.”
That was all it took. I was gripped with fear and disappointed in the institution of Wendy’s that had allowed a band of gorillas to take over their restaurant and set up camp. One thing I didn’t do was ever ask to go to Wendy’s again.
Given my unwavering trust, you can imagine that my parents just about wrung their hands with glee when April Fool’s Day came around. I mean, I was kept from seeing my Christmas Doll House before Christmas Morning by having my parents tell me that the extra bedroom in our house was broken, so I couldn’t go in. Broken. Did I ask how a ROOM could break? Or how a ROOM could malfunction and cause injury? No I did not, I just knew not to go in there.
But even with all this ammunition, my father kept it simple for April Fool’s Day, and successfully tricked me for approximately 11 consecutive years with a simple, one line trick that haunts me to this day.
He knows I love animals. And our neighborhood in suburban upstate New York was stocked quite well with all kinds of wildlife: raccoons, rabbits,deer, squirrels, possum, geese, all kinds of fauna. So on April 1st, my father would rush into my room about an hour before the alarm went off, shake me awake from a sound sleep and say:
“J! J! get up! Quick! There’s a whole family of deer standing in our back yard. It’s beautiful!”
Bleary eyed and half asleep, I would stumble from my bed and into their bedroom which held the only good window to the back yard. I would stand at the window, freezing in my Garfield nightshirt, staring into the blue gray pre-dawn light, only to hear my mom and dad whisper hoarsely:
APRIL FOOL’S DAY!
I would turn around, seething with the kind of rage only a 12 year old can muster, and find my dad standing there in his underpants, laughing hysterically and my mother joining right in. It happened every year until I was about 20. I don’t know why I fell for it. Maybe I never read The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
But you know what? I love nothing more on this earth than making people laugh, especially if they’re people I love and care for, people who have done so much to make me laugh all my life. And hey, if it has to be at my expense, it’s a small price to pay.
I don’t know what kind of tricks I’ll be playing on Charlotte yet, what kind of Gorilla tales I’ll tell her, but if they don’t end with everyone laughing, then I’ll consider them to have failed.
Happy April everyone!