My eight roommates and I lived in the smallest campus apartment.
It had no amenities to speak of. It was a place to sleep and eat,
but not much else. It was inexpensive, running only a $150 per
semester, about a quarter or less of what anything else cost. We
were an interesting lot, but none was more interesting than
Bart was the oldest of the nine of us, and prematurely balding.
He had a fun sense of humor and a nerdy laugh. Everybody liked
Bart. He, like the rest of us, had very little money, so he worked
on the 4 a.m. cleaning crew to make ends meet. Bart was shy and
never dated, so, when he would return home late from studying, we
would tease him, "Where have you been, Bart? Out having some girl
run her fingers through all three of the hairs on your head?" Bart
would just laugh and head off to get what little sleep he could
before he had to be at work.
But on April first, Bart had a joke up his sleeve. When he came
home for dinner, he sprang it on us. "Hey, guys. You know how I've
been coming home late and you thought I was studying? Well, I have
really been dating, and I'm now engaged."
The gasp in the apartment was audible. Not old, shy Bart! He
increased our excitement by telling us the wedding date and all of
the details. Finally, he burst out laughing and hollered, "April
He then headed on his way to the library for his study session.
"Two can play that game," I laughed to my other roommates.
I went to the phone and called one of the girls in a nearby
apartment that went to the same church we did. "Hey, Colleen," I
said, "I've got a big secret, but you can't tell anyone."
Colleen squealed with excitement. Everyone knew that if there
was news to spread around, Colleen was the one to tell. "You've got
to promise not to tell anyone," I warned her. I knew that was just
adding gasoline to the fire - just as I wanted. Colleen promised
she wouldn't tell a soul and begged to hear the news. After teasing
her for a short time, increasing her excitement, I finally
relented. "Bart is engaged. He just told us so himself." Making her
promise one last time not to tell anyone, I hung up.
By the time Bart arrived home from studying, the phone was
ringing off the hook with people calling to congratulate him. Poor,
shy Bart was taken off guard trying to explain that he wasn't
really engaged, and it was an April Fool's joke. When the phone was
free for a moment, I called Colleen again. "Oh, by the way,
Colleen, what I told you earlier was an April Fool's joke."
Her scream nearly left me deaf in one ear. "You are dead,
mister!" she yelled at me.
"Why?" I asked. "I'm sure you didn't tell anyone, right?" Her
verbiage left me to know I'd better watch my back and stay out of
The phone continued to ring late into the night, but finally,
about one in the morning, it was quiet, and we finally thought we
had the rumor of Bart's engagement laid to rest. But, around 2
a.m., after we were all asleep, the phone rang once more. When the
lady asked for Bart, Steve, still half asleep, told her Bart was
sleeping, and that he worked a 4 a.m. shift.
"I don't care what he does!" the lady hollered, loud enough to
wake the dead a hundred miles away. "This is his mother! You get
him out of bed!"
Bart was awakened, and as loud as his mother yelled, we all knew
why she had called. "Bart, why did I have to hear second hand that
you are getting married?! Me, your own mother?! I had to hear it
from a friend who heard it from her daughter! Don't you care about
me more than that?!"
You know what? I love April first.
Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated
columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at