I grew up in a family who treated practical jokes as an art form that verged on religion. Zealots that we are, we deemed April 1 the holiest of high holy days and raised the bar each year. As with any family, we all had our roles. My sister and I were the stool pigeons, Daddy the court jester and my mother would just roll her eyes and go back to her ironing.
It started small. These things always do. “Your shoe’s untied.” Sure enough, I would look down at my feet only to realize that I had on flip flops. Stakes raised and the following year somebody’s bed would be short sheeted. Alarm clocks rang at 3 a.m. or the time was changed to read two hours later than it was. Each year, the jokes would get bigger, stronger, faster and the Six Million Dollar joke was always on me.
I could not best my dad. He would fool me year after year, cackling with glee, even over the telephone after I’d move to Nashville and he remained in West Virginia. Until the year of The GMC Truck Recall.
It was the early nineties. Shoulder pads were getting smaller and houses were getting bigger. GMC was making the news because their dual gas-tank pickup trucks were exploding on side impact. It gave Ford lawyers a chance to catch their breath between the grenade known as the Pinto and the rollover-if-you-sneeze-on-it Explorer.
My he-man dad who never worries about anything he’s involved with, (only what his loved ones are up to – yes, Daddy, I know it’s gonna rain in Nashville tomorrow and the roads might be slick because of the oil buildup. I’ll be careful Daddy. I promise) was a little worried. I don’t think he liked the possibility of a t-bone collision cooking him like a t-bone steak.
Being the kind, mature, thoughtful and generous daughter, I am, I saw opportunity and capitalized on the man’s one niggly concern in his whole life, using it against him. I worked at an ad agency at the time. Not only did I have access to skilled artists, but also to demonic sociopaths. I wrote a professionally-worded letter signed by one top GM official named Fie Ree Krash. Artists created a logo. And my poor, unsuspecting dad received a VERY official looking missive detailing how he could get his IED of a truck replaced with a shiny new SAFE one by simply taking it to the dealership.
He did. He, who had never fallen for a “your shoe is untied” in his entire life took the letter to the nearest GMC dealer. He handed it to a guy. Who handed it to a guy. Who cussed and fussed and called HQ. “Why don’t they ever tell us ANYTHING?” Daddy stood to the side, probably sizing up the truck line-up on the lot, picking out a color. The guy cussed and fussed on the phone. Daddy could tell he was going up the food chain. Then, he had an inkling and quit picking out the color he liked best.
Cussin’ fussin’ guy hung up the phone, handed the letter back to my dad and advised him to look at the date on the letter. April 1. Daddy’s inkling was right. They’d been had.
Victory was mine, but it was hollow. Don’t get me wrong. I still throw it in his face, laugh until I’m purple and duck what he throws at me, but it didn’t feel as good as I thought it would. For one thing, that’s it. I will NEVER top that. I am like a high school jock who peaked at 18, never again to relive those glory days. For another, I schooled the teacher. I threw the universe out of alignment. It’s not as much fun as it seems.
This week, our progress on Daisy has been significant. Rotten wood continues to be uncovered and continues to be removed. My menfolk bang, cuss, exclaim, “what the…” and bang some more. I hear Boy Child mutter “The good thing about shitty construction is that it’s easy to take apart.” I tell him to watch his mouth. I don’t care that he said shitty, but Daisy can hear him. She can’t help that she’s a Shasta knockoff and she wasn’t well constructed. We’re here to fix that, not to hurt her feelings.
He keeps on with the smart mouth. “I pulled off the metal siding and Daisy just relieved herself of all this rotten wood. It was like a drunk, just letting go right there in public.”
Boy Child continues, forgetting that I am twice his size and five times meaner. I could sit on his skinny ass and he’d be a greasy spot in the driveway. “Y’know when we first got Daisy, we talked about having Bessie pull her. Bessie is a PACKARD Mom. A PACKARD! Bessie is looking over at Daisy and she’s saying, ‘Oh. I think you need a two-door Chevy for that job.’”
I look over at poor Daisy with her entire side missing and turn back to glare at this human to whom I have given birth and raised. This is obviously his father’s side coming through. And then I smile. And cackle. Maniacally. Perhaps it’s time for his mother’s side to rise from the mists of family lore and continue that which has not been forgotten, but merely waiting for the right opportunity. The universe will realign. I am not sure, yet, what I will do, but it will be glorious. April Fool’s, dear child. April Fool’s.