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April Fools!

April 1st 2005 was my crowning achievement in April First foolery. I've pulled off a few excellent pranks, but last year I out did myself to the point that I was forced into retirement this year. Well, not entirely. Read on for Eric's Prankish History - my favorite April Fools' Day practical jokes & April Fools info, aka the 4/1 uh, 1.

The joker within me was awakened one day in the late 1980s when out of the blue, my father, in full view of his young and impressionable son, dialed up his long term girlfriend and spoke in the driest tones I've ever heard. He told her he had something he needed to say to her. He told her that he was getting back together with his ex-wife. Next he said that this conversation was an April Fools gag and hung up and just looked at me while I was thinking "OMG! Did he just really do that?!". Happy ending: They're still together and Karen went on to become my step mom. I've been thinking about this and I'm not sure Karen was actually on the other end of the line. Oh well, the joke would then be on me and it's still funny!

Paybacks were a bitch for my Father! Here's my first tip for would-be practical jokers: The Written Word is Magic.

Set up: It's my senior year in High School. I'm looking to be college bound, but obviously nervous. What's the worst thing that nerves could do to a kid at that age just weeks before graduation?
Props: Official Reading High School Watermarked Letterhead paper & envelopes (Generously donated by the Guidance Center), The typewriter in my typing class.
The Hook: I typed up an official looking document on official paper, placed it in the official envelope and left it with the mail on April 1st.
The Mark: My envelope was already sitting in between the screen and front doors when the mailman dropped that day's mail through the slot in the screen door. Karen picked up the mail minutes later and leafed through. She walked to the kitchen where I was innocently sipping a drink I had just poured myself. She "filed" the junk mail then saw an official looking envelope addressed to the parent or guardian of Eric Dalton. She cracked it open without telling me what she was reading. To her credit the look on her face never faltered while she read the letter stating that as is my right in the state of Pennsylvania since I am 18 years old I could drop out of school and, in fact, I had done just that and this was my official letter to let the parents know as a courtesy of the schools Guidance Department. The letter went on to state that if the Parent or Guardian had any questions they could call Mr. Manelli at the school, oh and by the way APRIL FOOLS! Gotcha! I remember that Karen took the lords name in vain when she read the last line and I remember that I damn near pissed myself with the suspense while she was reading. The best part was that I never intended her to read it first so this was a happy accident. Karen put the letter onto my Dad's "Rat Pack" of mail to go through. When he came home from work later on I once again took up my trusty spot in the kitchen while Karen told my poor unsuspecting father that there was a letter he should read. Still in his work jacket and hat, the look of "glad to be home" just dropped like a ton of rocks as he read the letter. He actually breathed an audible "Sigh of Relief"© when he read the last line.
The Fallout: His first words to me were "You're lucky!" I saved the letter for many years but it vanished when we moved. Such a shame. Of course now with the internet and everything it's much easier to forge letterheads, but there's no substitute for the real thing - watermark and all!

The next tip I have for my fellow jokersters is this: A Picture is Worth 1000 Words.

Shannon has her hand on my chest!Set up: I have season tickets to the XFL games and I'm sitting in the first row right where the cheerleaders dance on their raised platform. Wouldn't it be sweet if I could sweet-talk one?
Props: My digital photograph editing skills, one late-night email, and some phone book searching for bars in the vicinity of the Meadowlands.
The Hook: I baited my entire family for a few weeks that I intended to hook up with one of the cheerleaders as one had taken a shine to me.
The Mark: Upon returning from the final home game of the NY/NJ Hitmen I wrote out a long email saying how I just had the greatest night of my life. Seems that since it was the last game, my favorite cheerleader Shannon had told a few of us where they hang out after the games. I had done my research and picked a real bar in the area. Of course we went to the bar and of course the whole team was there and of course it was great how I was accepted as one of the guys and even got friendly with Shannon. I even got her phone number! Icing on the cake - someone had a digital camera and took this picture which I attached to the email. I sent the email to everyone I knew.
The Reveal: Later that day I sent another email telling everyone that it was an April Fools prank but several had already written back saying how happy they were for me and how they had forwarded the email to their friends and co-workers . "Check out my son/nephew with the cheerleaders!"
The Fallout: A few laughs and a few angry family members. My aunt Susie was sore at me for quite some time. My Mom too. The moral of the story is that you don't have to make them think something horrible has happened - something good works just as well! The bigger problem was that when I actually started dating a girl named Shannon later in the year nobody believed me. Check my official XFL Page for more shots of Shannon the flexible.

This brings me to the third law of jokery: People trust anything that looks official.
I've played with this one a lot in my head and I always get into serious trouble in my imagination... but lets just say that someone who happens to have something that looks like a 'security' vest complete with reflective stripes could make things interesting at a wedding reception or parking garage or airport. Of course, you don't have to dress the part, you just have to dress up your props! As the phishing scoundrels could tell you, it's easy to mock up an email that looks just like one that you're used to seeing!
Set up: Every week the volleyball league sends out an email newsletter with some news and this week's schedule.
Props: A hotmail address that's identical to the AOL address that is used to send out the newsletter.
The Hook: April Fools just happened to fall on the day of the week that the newsletter always came out.
The Marks: I knew a half dozen people who were on the newsletter distribution list so I could see firsthand how folks would react. I typed up an email that was for all intents and purposes IDENTICAL to one of the newsletters that we would receive each week. I used the same greeting and closing, the same sentence structure, the same lack of (or excessive!!!) punctuation. I added a recap of the previous week and the correct schedule for this week. I also told everyone that, henceforth, clothing is, in fact, completely optional. It was even discouraged! Moments after I sent it (making sure the person who usually sent it out was in the distribution list) I heard a laugh from across the office and knew my plan had been a success! No reveal was necessary as about 3 hours later, the original newsletter guy sent out his official letter debunking mine.
The Fallout: Apparently, he had been getting phone calls. Excellent!!! There was no nudity that week at the volleyball game. Oh well... maybe I'll try again during Beach Volleyball season.

That's all for today - This post is continuedin the continuation, aka the part 2, aka 4/1 uh, 2.