April Fool’s Day is weird. By which I mean - April Fool’s Day sucks. Usually the prank consists of something that’s just mean spirited and not a prank at all. You get punched in the face. What was that for, you ask. April Fools, they say.
They totally got you.
Although it’d be in the spirit of the day for me to lie and say that those are the only kind April Fool’s Day ‘pranks’ I encounter, they’re not. But if I were to say that, if I were to say that the only pranks I fall victim to on April the 1st of any given year are simply mean spirited bullyings, you would believe me. And why wouldn’t you believe me?
This of course brings me to the second most common genre of misdirected Fool’s deed: somebody tells you something, anything. And you, being a normal person with the standard and logical amount of trust in your fellow man, decide to believe them. Oh, what a fool you are. You should have known better than to have such blind trust in your girlfriend when she called you in a frenzy and announced that she, as a result of some sort of misfire, your misfire, is now carrying a human parasite inside of her abdomen that shares half of your DNA. How could you have been so foolish to take this person, who you have made an implied oath to place a massive amount of trust in, at her word? You are so dumb.
I think there’s some sort of universal desire for people to be the kind of person that plays pranks. Someone who’s light-hearted and goofy and witty and creative - but the problem with this whole situation is that the light-hearted, goofy, witty, and creative guy is great because anything he does is completely without motive: it’s great because it’s pointless and nonsensical. Just for fun. But to orchestrate pranks weeks in advance in order to carry them out on this specific day is to be a tourist in that persona - which is in direct conflict of the persona itself. The prankster does not meticulously cultivate his archetype. It’s just who he is.
You’re probably thinking, “alright Teddy. This is exhausting. Why can’t you just accept the day for what it is? Stop being so condescending.” But the jokes on you. That was just a character I was playing - a character that’s cynical and overly-analytic and just a general chore to be around. Somebody who acts superior just because other people are having more fun than him. Not me, just a character.
I totally got you.
The most happiness I find on the trip is when we’re in the car and I can blare the Chuck Berry tape I brought. We drive the trail where thousands died, and I listen to music and think, what are we supposed to do with the grizzly past? I feel a righteous anger and bitterness about every historical fact of what the American nation did to the Cherokee. But at the same time, I’m an entirely American creature. I’m in love with this song and the country that gave birth to it.
Listening to “Back in the USA” while driving the Trail of Tears, I turn it over and over in my head. It’s a good country. It’s a bad country. Good country. Bad country. And of course, it’s both. When I think about my relationship with America, I feel like a battered wife. Yeah, he knocks me around a lot, but boy, he sure can dance.
Well, it all began at Christmas two years ago, when my daughter was four years old. And it was the first time she had ever asked about, what did this holiday mean? And so I explained to her that this was celebrating the birth of Jesus.
And she wanted to know more about that. And we went out and bought a kid’s Bible and had these readings at night. She loved them. Wanted to know everything about Jesus. So we read a lot about his birth and about his teaching.
And she would ask constantly what that phrase was. And I would explain to her that it was “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Then we would talk about those old words and what that all meant, you know?
And then one day, we were driving past a big church, and out front was an enormous crucifix. She said, who is that? And I guess I’d never really told that part of the story. So I had to sort of— yeah, oh, that’s Jesus. And I forgot to tell you the ending, yeah.
Well, you know, he ran afoul of the Roman government. This message that he had was so radical and unnerving to the prevailing authorities of the time that they had to kill him. They came to the conclusion that he would have to die. That message was too troublesome.
It was about a month later after that Christmas, we’d gone through the whole story of what Christmas meant. And it was mid-January, and her preschool celebrates the same holidays as the local schools. So Martin Luther King Day was off. And so I knocked off work that day and I decided we’d play, and I’d take her out to lunch.
And we were sitting in there, and right on the table where we happened to plop down, was the Arts section of the local newspaper. And there, big as life, was a huge drawing by, like, a 10-year-old kid from the local schools of Martin Luther King. And she said, who’s that?
And I said, well, as it happens, that’s Martin Luther King. And he’s why you’re not in school today, because we’re celebrating his birthday. This is the day we celebrate his life.
And she said, so who was he? I said, well, he was a preacher. And she looks up at me and goes, (EXCITEDLY) for Jesus?
And I said, yeah, yeah, actually he was. But there was another thing that he was really famous for, which is that he had a message. And you’re trying to say this to a four-year-old. It’s very— this is the first time they ever hear anything, so you just very careful about how you phrase everything.
So I said, you know, well, yeah, he was a preacher, and he had a message. And she said, what was his message? And I said, well, he said that you should treat everybody the same, no matter what they look like. And she thought about that for a minute. And she said, well, that’s what Jesus said.
And I said, yeah, I guess it is. I never thought of it that way, but yeah. And that is sort of like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” And she thought for a minute and looked up at me and said, did they kill him too?