By Karl Terry
There’s something about me a lot of readers don’t know. I’m an April Fool.
By that I mean I was born on April Fools’ Day. It’s true, I really was born on April 1 and I’ve had every practical joke in the book played on me.
Growing up, my family was always playing a joke on someone; it didn’t necessarily have to be on April Fools’ Day. So when your birthday falls on April 1, folks have to get up pretty early to get one over on you. The worst (or best) gags I remember were after I moved out. I guess I lost my edge moving away.
One year before I was married, the whole staff at the Quay County Sun in Tucumcari took me out for my birthday. We had supper and then magically a beautiful cake appeared in front of me. Everyone was talking about how great a job one of the staffers had done in making the cake. Plates appeared and a knife was thrust into my hand with the urging to “cut the cake.”
I carefully started to carve and once I got through the icing the cake didn’t feel right. It wouldn’t cut very good. I redoubled my effort and was soon sawing away trying to serve a piece of stryrofoam.
The real cake came out but the gang wasn’t done having fun. It had a Barbie doll dressed in a see-through nightie in the middle of it.
On my 40th birthday, the staff at the newspaper dispatched pranksters early and got into my office and turned everything in it upside down — chairs, trash can, in-basket, stapler, everything. To top it off they had TP’ed the whole office and a clipping of the full-page ad from that day’s paper, featuring me at age 4 in my cowboy hat, was taped to the door.
When I turned 30, my wife sent me dead flowers and rented a portable sign on the busiest corner in Tucumcari announcing my birthday.
One year at Christmas the company bought everyone a box of steaks. We didn’t have enough room in our freezer so we took them over to my in-laws for storage still in the Christmas wrap. We forgot about them until my birthday, when my wife wanted to grill me a steak. I went over and got the package out of the freezer and took it home and set it out to thaw. That evening when we opened the box, it had a couple of bricks in it. My father-in-law had carefully unwrapped and replaced the steaks with the bricks.
That joke set off a running prank between me and father-in-law in which we kept giving each other the bricks back at birthdays and Christmas in creative ways.
One of the best jokes played on me wasn’t a joke at all. When my sister was pregnant with my nephew she kept telling me she was going to have the baby on my birthday. We laughed about it for months. The morning of my birthday I got a call at the newspaper from my sister. She said she was in the hospital and had just had a boy. I laughed at her and told her the call wasn’t going to fly as an April Fools’ joke. She kept insisting it was true but I refused to believe her.
I finally hung up on her but when she didn’t call right back I began to wonder. I called the hospital to see if she was there. She really was. Finally there was another fool in the family to share my burden.
Once, in a teenage rage, feeling I was being picked on unfairly for actually having to check in with my parents by curfew time, I yelled at my mom and dad that I had always been “nothing but a big joke around here.”
I guess my birthday made me grow up quick and tough. At least they didn’t name me Sue.
Karl Terry is managing editor of the Portales News-Tribune. Contact him at 356-4481, ext. 33 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org