Yesterday, Fox News’ website ran a post that claimed April Fool’s Day is good for your heart, and cited studies indicating that laughter reduces stress hormones, may help reduce blood pressure, and may even potentially help prevent a heart attack or stroke. That’s all well and good if your April Fool’s Day prank (or the one someone plays on you) actually makes you laugh, but what if instead the ruse scares the crap out of you, so much so that you have a heart attack out of sheer fright and terror? Then, not so good for your health.
In my experience, April Fool’s Day is less about laughing than it is about trying really hard to fake out and potentially terrify the other person or people, however briefly. A few of my innocent past April Fool’s pranks have included telling people I eloped with someone I barely knew, telling people I was pregnant, telling people I’d been kicked out of school, telling people I’d joined the military, telling people I was moving to Mongolia the following week, telling people I’d been offered a recurring role on a soap opera, et cetera. Sure, the laughs came later, but the real electric charge came from the period of time when the other (gullible) person or people actually bought your story and were fooled into a sudden state of total shock and surprise.
See, I didn’t want to make them laugh; I wanted to see their eyes widen in utter horror. (My future husband and semi-professional prankster George Clooney knows what I mean; the consummate jokester has turned many of his film sets into April Fool’s weeks and months.) The truth is (and this is no joke), my April Fool’s Day shenanigans aren’t about making people healthier; they’re about making people unhealthier – albeit temporarily. Each April 1st, I don’t want to reduce people’s stress level – I want to personally ensure that their stress hormones like cortisol are being put to good and frequent use.
Of course, these potential health risks are all in good fun. Do I actually want to cause the recipients of my April 1st pranks to suffer a heart attack or stroke? Well, no, but it’d be nice if they came as close as one can to having that happen without them actually ending up in the hospital or having any lasting ill health effects. For just 24 hours, I want to make them squirm a little, both physically and emotionally. Because, in the end, isn’t that what the wonder of April Fool’s Day is really all about?
Oh, and by the way, your computer will self-destruct in ten seconds.