Did we or didn’t we? Well, sort of
Did you happen to notice what the date was last week Wednesday? Or have you been staying at home, not getting out much due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and so you are losing track of days of the week and the date and the month?
Well, in case you missed it, the date was April 1.
Yes, it was April Fools Day. And if you remember, the Faribault County Register has been running an April Fools Day story since, well, for a long time.
Now, the Register comes out on a Saturday, so since April 1 was on a Wednesday, right in between two Saturday editions, it begs the question of did we run an April Fools Day story in last week’s newspaper or this one you hold in your hands?
Or did we, in the light of the very serious coronavirus situation, decide to skip this practical joke thing altogether?
Those are all good questions. So here are some answers. And, they may not be what you expect.
We did skip it. Sort of.
Those readers who are on to us and expect to find an April Fools story every year have reported to me that they easily spotted it this year.
They are sure the story on page three of last week’s Register, all about a run on Busch light beer at the Wells liquor store is the fake story.
Those folks are sort of correct. It is indeed the story we wanted you all to think was the not-true, made up April Fools Day story.
But they are all wrong in the fact that it is not made up. It is true!
Register writer Katie Mullaly used the facts supplied by Wells city administrator CJ Holl and wrote this story in a way to make it seem as though it was an April Fools Day joke, but I can assure you that all of the facts in the story are true.
Mullaly even threw in a final line that maybe the beer shelves at the liquor store would be fully stocked by April 1, an obvious nod towards making you believe the story was fake and was our April Fools Day prank on our readers.
So the prank actually is we made you believe it was fake when it wasn’t.
It is reminiscent of a similar story back a few years ago.
That year we had a story on our front page all about how Preparation H was going to make a hemorrhoids medicine television commercial in Kiester, Minnesota.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, was sure that was our April Fools Day story. It was perfect one of the best April Fools Day stories ever.
But, like the beer story this year, it was all true. And many folks have now seen that commercial.
It just happened that former Kiester mayor Doug Trytten let me know just before April 1 that Preparation H had contacted him about making a commercial in the town later that year.
I could not resist publishing the story early, right at April Fools Day, so that everyone would think it was an April Fools story.
There is just no way I could have ever created a better story than that one.
It just goes to show you that sometimes the strangest things you are convinced are fake are not.
It is a bit unclear of just where and when the idea of playing April Fools Day (or All Fools Day) pranks started. But, it is thought to have begun in Europe in the 1500s. Some say it began in the United Kingdom in 1700.
Originally the prank was to send someone off to go fetch something. Or perhaps to take a sealed letter to someone. The letter of course, contained instructions to call the poor messenger a fool.
The town of Ely, Minnesota became famous because the Chamber of Commerce there created an April Fools Day joke every year and it was reported far and wide by the national media.
One of the more classic April Fools Day jokes of all time was in 1957 when the respected BBC network in England reported on the excellent spaghetti harvest in Europe. They showed workers plucking the spaghetti off the trees.
The BBC was lauded by some for the humor, but chastised by others for broadcasting “fake news,” of course.
We have suffered that same chastisement for our efforts over the years to be funny. There was the time we reported the two county high schools were changing their names to Faribault County East and Faribault County West.
Some folks got mad at the school boards for even considering that change, then become more mad at us for having printed this as real news when it was revealed to be false.
Some people don’t like being made to look foolish, or don’t have any sense of humor.
This year we can’t be chastised for printing fake news as everything in last week’s edition is true.
But, we can still be chastised for making folks believe that a story was all made up, when in actuality, it was real. And thus, they still come out looking foolish.
One poor soul who always comes out looking foolish is Charlie Brown in the Peanuts comic strip.
His torturer, Lucy Van Pelt, reminds Charlie that it is April 1, and does he know what that means.
Then later she tells him that the little red haired girl is at the door and wants to give him kiss.
As he runs to the door, Lucy calls out “April Fools!”
Every single year.
This year, with everyone hunkered down and feeling stressed by the threat of the coronavirus and what effect it is having on our lives, maybe we need at least a little humor in our day in order to get us all through this.
Because, unfortunately, COVID-19 is no April Fools Day joke that is fake, even if we all wished that it was.