It was a Saturday, so I wasn’t teaching. My friend Lynn was at work at the newspaper when she called. Apparently a reporter had pulled a fast one on the typesetters because it was April first, and they were ticked. It cost them a lot of time to redo some of their material because of him, and they had a deadline to meet. She needed my help to get back at him. Could I come up with anything to get revenge?
“Let me think.” Now the cardinal rule of practical jokes is that no one gets hurt and nothing gets damaged. But beyond that… “Yes. What’s his phone number?”
“I KNEW you were the one to ask. Here’s his extension.”
The reporter answered his phone.
I told him I had a story that I thought needed to be told. I owned tarantulas, and I thought they were getting a bad rap by the public. (Keep in mind, I am quite certain these vile creatures are the devil incarnate and should be obliterated from the face of the earth. I know absolutely nothing about them. Why should I?)
“People need to know what great pets they make.”
“How did you get my name?”
Uh-oh. “Oh, I just saw it in the paper. Should I be talking to someone else instead? I just thought it would be a good story.”
“No, no, no. I think you’re right. What makes them such good pets?”
“Well, I’ve got two. Mine are South American Reds, a little smaller than the black variety, and they’re real smart. And gentle, too.”
I poured out a story about how they could be trained to beg for food, loved to be petted, etc. This went on for some time. He uh-huhhed a bunch while I spun this nonsense. Apparently he was taking notes. At one point he asked me to hold. A couple of minutes later he came back on the line.
“I think I can get a photographer this morning. Are you free?”
“Well, yes, but there is just one thing.”
“April Fool from teletype.”
All I heard was an “Ooooooooh” that faded. Then a click.
My phone rang about thirty seconds later. I could hear Lynn and her fellow typesetters howling with laughter.
“What did you say to him? Why was he running all around the newsroom?”
I told her my story while she relayed it to the rest of the ladies. They were hooting as she told me about watching him through the glass wall. After he hung up he had walked up to their window and wagged his finger at them and smiled.
Harmless fun, but he didn’t try a trick on them ever again. And Lynn’s still at the paper all these years later, having moved to the newsroom herself. She and I still remember and laugh. After all, what are friends for?
Postscript: I visited Google images ("red tarantula") to add a visual aid for interest. But I recoiled in horror at the very first page. No way in hell am I posting a picture of one of those monsters on MY blog. Brrrrrrr. Use your imagination. I did.