license to fib
what happened after my April Fools' gag
Yikes. Almost two weeks since my last post. Apologies and a promise to get my act together. Very soon I’ll be keen to write about Taiwan, Japan, Ukraine and Russia, Putin, Trump, RFK jr.’s run for the presidency, cow and chicken farm explosions, Substack’s entry into the Twitter zone, and cleaning ponds again, but for now I’ll get back into gear with an update of things n’ such.
I wrote my little April Fools’ gag, on me being hired by the local FOX/ABC affiliate (why are they even together?) on the morning of April 1st. I had a vague idea the day before that an April Fools’ joke might be fun, but nothing came to mind until that morning. I have a lot of splendid ideas bouncing around in my mind the moment I get up. After shower, coffee, and the commute to the grind, these ideas become less attractive and are mostly forgotten. It’s a similar dynamic when I tell my wife about my latest idea (get-rich-quick scheme)- her non-reaction has a somewhat negative effect on my dreamy enthusiasm.
D-“Hey Yuka. I have an idea (the 84th grand scheme for this year). We should open a no-mask school! Some kind of school where we teach independent thinking. We’ll emphasize creativity n’ stuff. Get rid of all the rote learning, memorization n’ crap. No more boring vice-principal speeches where the kids stand until they faint. Lots of activities. I’ll do the sports and outdoor stuff and you can do the art and music. Doesn’t that sound cool!?”
D- Right, well, you can chew on that. See you at dinner!
Anyway, since my techy buddy Dave Williams had indeed encouraged me to apply for the KTMF-anchor gig, and I’d already done some thinking about it, it was easy to write that post. Of course I dismissed the possibility they would ever hire a non-normie, but I couldn’t help imagining working there. At the end of my spoof article, the question was, should I say, “Happy April Fools’!” or not?
My first thought was to not say it.
1. It would take the fun out of the joke.
2. Everyone is supposed to remember there will be tom-foolery on April 1st.
But then I thought, “There might be quite a few among my friends, acquaintances and readers who don’t go for that crap. A lie is a lie and maybe you shouldn’t lie even if some silly tradition gives you liecense (heh).”
A friend of mine emailed me and said she hated April Fools’, but my substack post indeed made her laugh. This brings up the idea of special occasions where we allow ourselves some kind of sin that otherwise is frowned upon.
· Lying: “Hey, it’s April Fools’!”
· Gluttony: “What!? (munch, gulp) It’s Thanksgiving!”
· Licentiousness: “Quit worrying, Leticia! It’s Mardi Gras!”
· Drunkenness: “Huh? Gimme that lampshade back. It’s New Year Eve, man!”
· Conjuring: “Oh, calm down! Brittany chose that Beelzebub mask herself. It’s Halloween!”
All that’s a good future topic. But back to my gag: In the end I settled on a halfway solution, which fits, as “Do it halfway” has always been kind of my motto and the reason Yuka so easily dismisses my grand schemes. I put “Happy April 1st” at the end of the article. Actually, I put it just a bit beyond the end, after the request-for-subscribers button and down by the photo-credit ‘thank you’. So yes, I figured some readers would miss it, while at the same time I could defend myself by saying, “Didn’t you read till the end?” It’s a bit devious, like a warning in the fine print, and I apologize for that. (incidentally, I usually try to mix around the wording in the request-for-subscribers blurb at the end, to add a little levity. And it’s nice to note where I get my pictures from and credit the photographer, so please read to the end if you have time)
Well, my (April 1st-permissible?) deviousness paid off and I fooled some readers. By the way, if you like my story-telling and want to read a funny account of a teen romance in Italy involving my son, check this out: https://dwshumway.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/20-one-of-the-family/
How much were some of my readers fooled? I had people write and congratulate me on my new job. I had people ask if this good news was true, even after they had seen the “Happy April 1st!” at the end! I had lunch at Fred and Milly VanCamp’s and as I was about to get back to work out at the barn, Fred beckoned me back in and told me to come into the living room where he was having a business meeting with the co-owners of his pond company. “Dan, have you told the guys the news?”
-Oh, come on. The news about your new job.
Now Fred is a practical jokester himself so I was sure he wanted me to repeat the KTMF story and see if I could sucker his business partners into believing it. Fred would play his part in the deception. I paused, tried to get the story going, then, being pretty bad at lying to people face to face, I said, “Ahh. Fred, I can’t do it.”
-I’m no good at lying. Maybe in print but in live conversation I’m no good.
-What do you mean?
And at that point I realized I’d hoodwinked Fred himself. He wasn’t part of my spoof; he’d really fell for it and wanted to share the good news with his partners. Ugh!
The other notable person I duped was Sloan Youngblood, or I should say, Sloan Praise-the-Lord! Youngblood. I feel pretty guilty, but even more delighted, in what happened with Sloan. He’s one of those Christians who came to the Word after some rough times and he’s seen the other side, after having been around the block a few times. Normally, he’s a good judge of character and not easily fooled, but at the same time he has this love of Jesus he wears on his sleeve and thinks only the best of, and trusts in the goodness and honesty of his friends, of whom I am one.
So Sloan is elated by the news that DW Shumway is going to be fighting for the truth from the inside, slaying the beast on its own territory. He is bursting with joy at the fact and can’t help but share it with his fellow parishioners on Sunday morning, April 2nd.
“Pastor John, if I may make an announcement,” says Sloan politely, in his radio-DJ-smooth, deep voice. Pastor John says, “Of course, Sloan,” and the congregation is silent.
“Friends, I am filled with joy to announce that Dan Shumway, who as you know often attends this church but couldn’t make it today, has been hired to work as an anchor up at KTMF Missoula.”
After a few gasps, wows and reallys, Sloan tells the entire story, exactly as I put it in the April 1st substack post. He goes on and on, full of joy and pride in my story. Luckily, Sloan is not the only one at that church who reads my blog. Matt and Nancy read it too, and they read the article until the end. I’m loving it, recreating the scene in my mind, where Matt, a soft-spoken, hard-working, wild-country man’s man, looks over at Nancy, and meets her stare, as if to say, “We’d better cut him off and tell him now.” However, Nancy, who agrees, nevertheless wants to let Sloan dig his hole a little deeper, ‘cause although she’s uncomfortable about it too, is enjoying this. Nancy is a sweetheart, but a bit of a firebrand with a good sense of humor, and she wants to draw this out a bit.
Finally Nancy speaks up. “Uh, Sloan, hold on a sec, we’d better tell you something.”
When they explained it was all an April Fools’ joke there was a moment where you could hear a pin drop, as Sloan’s jaw dropped. Then Pastor John burst out laughing and the whole congregation joined in the laughter, but Sloan’s jaw was still on the floor.
After the commotion Pastor John saw a teachable moment in all this, as he often does, and said, “Well, why not? Why shouldn’t Dan send in that resume? It would be a great chance for truth if he got hired at the TV station. Where is our faith if we think things like this can’t happen? Someone tell Dan to go for it!”
The congregation, who all love Pastor John, nodded in agreement.
Later Sloan called me and said, “You devil! I’m gonna punch you in the arm!”
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