I'm a Fool for April

The Merry Cemetery

The Merry Cemetery

One of my favorite days of the year is April Fools’ Day. This also happens to be the day after my wedding anniversary. Without fail, I spend weeks dreaming up an elaborate hoax to play on Steve, who, with his analytical engineer’s brain, is never fooled. I have asked him to please just pretend that I got him, but no, I’ve only had satisfaction once. That time, I moved the car and crouched behind it until he found me, several minutes and stiff joints later.

My disappointment is exponentially increased when I realize, at day’s end, that nobody cared enough to even try to fool me. From the moment I wake every April 1st, I anticipate pranks at each turn. One year, while serving with Campus Crusade at the University of Rhode Island, I received a telephone call well after midnight from someone claiming to be a higher-up in our organizational chart. We’ll call her Tricia. A woman’s voice informed me that my placement had been made for the following school year, and asked me to consider moving to the other side of the country, the University of California at Berkeley.

I was on to her. "C’mon, Pam, I know it’s you! Tricia wouldn’t be so stupid to call me this late." I laughed derisively.

Turns out I was wrong. It was Tricia. Tricia was not amused.

My fondness for April Fools’ Day is one of many reasons why Cluj, Romania – in the heart of Transilvania – fit me so perfectly. People in that part of the world have a well-cultivated sense of humor. There’s even a cemetery in nearby Maramures called the Merry Cemetery. Poems are printed on the bright blue tombstones, poems like this one: "You sure enjoyed the plum brandy while you were alive. Hope you’re having fun now."

Students in Cluj loved to ring in April with elaborate pranks. Guys dressed like nuns and walked the streets collecting spare change. Others filled a balloon with paper confetti, affixed it above my door, and hid in the hallway to laugh hysterically when I opened the door, thereby popping the balloon. My shrieks accompanied the gunshot-sounding bang as paper enshrouded me. Oh, those were the days. I miss them.

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