April Fools' Day Reminder: Pranks Are the Worst

All in all, I consider myself a good time gal — not in the the slutty WWII sense (though that's fine, too! THANKS FOR SUPPORTING THE TROOPS!), but in the way that I can take a joke and generally have a good sense of humor about myself (just so long as you never ever mention the ribbon around my neck). But here's the thing, though: I really hate pranks.

I hate them when companies pull them, I'm generally not all that into them on TV shows and I don't like them when they happen involving people I know, unless it's something cute/doesn't trick anyone into thinking that someone is dead or dying.

While you might think that my aversion to pranks would make me the perfect prank victim, it doesn't. You know why? Because all of the major pranking occasions in my life have ended in tears and guilt. Like these, for example:

April Fools' Day, 1995 or 1996. I am about 7-years-old and my parents have been divorced for 3 years. I am at my mom's when I receive a call from my father, who — at the time — lived just down the block. He informs me that he's gotten a job in Vancouver and we're moving. To his credit, I don't think he realized that his "joke" also implied that I would have to choose between him and my mother. I sobbed. He said a weak and apologetic "April Fools" and never forgave himself.

Random Spring Day, 2005. I spent my senior year of high school living as a foreign exchange student in a very small city in Italy. Everyday I'd meet my host sister Marika on the bus ride home from our respective high schools, but one day she didn't show up. This wasn't entirely unsual and would happen occasionally, but this time when I got home, my host mother and other host sister became incredibly agitated that Marika was missing. "She wouldn't have gone off without telling us. Something's happened to her," they kept saying. Making matters worse, they also kept implying that whatever happened was my fault.

After about 10-minutes of this, I began experiencing such total panic that I forgot how to speak Italian entirely. Around that exact time, Marika popped out of the laundry room and everyone started to laugh except for me, mostly because I was so overwhelmed with relief, fear and adrenalin. Once again, I started to sob and they all felt terrible.

To be fair to the tradition of malarky, both of those are just examples of really bad pranks. Still, it seems like these days all pranks need to include some element of fear for them to be considered successful. Considered the one recently endured by my Jalopnik coworker Travis Okulski. Travis was fake kidnapped by race car driver Jeff Gordon in disguise and taken, unwillingly, on the most terrifying joy ride of his life, all with the endorsement of our employer. I'll admit, it was a blast to watch and Travis was such a good sport about it, but if this had happened to me? I would have A.) shit myself, B.) died of fear, C.) became a ghost and D.) haunted Gawker Media for eternity.

Today, of course, is the worst prank day of all because everyone — especially our nation's least funny — is trying to get in on the game. In this our year of the Internet, April Fool's Day has resulted in high school acquaintances announcing their fake pregnancies on Facebook and corporate Twitter accounts creating fake promotions, which, once compared, are actually no more stupid or foolish than the real ones they put out there any other day of the year.

To quote my co-worker Lindy, "I hate April Fool's Day. It's just Lying Day." And she's right. Lying, like pranks, is a tool for tools, so don't do either unless you really understand your audience or are very, very clever.

Here's my big April Fool's Prank: Click this link. It's the picture of a Rat King. I told you what it is and you did it anyway. You have no one to blame but yourself and if you try to prank me back, I will crush you like the Hammer of Thor.

Now please feel free to share your best/worst pranking experiences in the comments.

Image via the 1986 horror classic April Fool's Day, naturally.