THE KID IS NOT MY SON
My one regret about the New Orleans trip is that it took me out of town on April Fool’s Day. My April Fool’s jokes, while I treasure them to the core of my very soul, tend to get me in heaps of trouble with the people I care about, so it’s usually helpful if I’m available for damage control. My wicked little pranks are hilarious to me in anticipation and in retrospect, but while they’re in motion, they’re enormous train wrecks.
Now, come on. Who doesn’t love a good train wreck?
That being said, I like to think I have pretty good April Fool’s ethics. I believe jokes should be of the harmless variety, nothing cruel or potentially heart-attack provoking. “I’m moving to West Virginia to become a coal miner”: good. “Dude, your mom died”: bad. They should be just marginally beyond what you think is believable, with enough clues and absurd details added that anyone who falls for them will feel monumentally silly, but not humiliated, afterward. If anyone asks if they’re being punked, you have to fess up, and ditto if anyone gets carried away and tells you you can’t move to West Virginia — you just can’t!!! — because they’ve always loved you *sniff, sniff* and they’ve been waiting for ten years now for the right moment to tell you and if you go off and get all sooty and pickaxe-scarred they’ll just kill themselves, they will. At some point, busting out laughing and yelling “Psyche!” just doesn’t seem appropriate anymore.
Well, I should’ve thought this year’s prank through a little more, because a lot of people got carried away. Tears were shed. Humiliation was engendered. Apologies were tendered en masse.
Knowing I had to leave at approximately 6 am for the airport, I composed my April Fool email in advance. Then, just before I headed out with two seriously overpacked suitcases, I clicked “send”, cackling with devilish delight. And as I headed for a day of travel, a day of shut-off cell phones and complete email disengagement, one by one, my friends and family read the following piece of glorious, glorious mischief:
From: Jerry M.
Subject: Big News!
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 2004 05:59:12 -0800
Dear friends and family:
Drew and I have a very big announcement to make, and I hope you’ll forgive us for doing this via email, but it really was the best way to reach all of you at once. We’ve been trying to keep it quiet, but a few months ago, we began the process of adopting. It was not an easy decision to make, and not one that we took lightly. But we’re both anxious to become parents, and with so many of our friends having kids now, we feel like the timing is right. We have lots of love to give, and if we can piss off a few right-wingers in the process, so much the better!
After exploring several options, we decided on an agency that specializes in Chinese adoptions. It seems fitting for us to take in an Asian kid. I mean, Drew and I both love Chinese food and Jackie Chan movies. (Ha, ha. Geez, if that’s my level of cultural sensitivity, I feel sorry for this kid already.) We didn’t want to jump the gun on this announcement, because we knew it was still a longshot. Most Chinese adoption facilitators frown on placing their children in gay homes. However, Maxine, our agent in America, knew of a particularly distressed orphanage in the Siyue Hunong region that had no such qualms (provided, of course, that you fork over some big bucks – no one ever said adoption was cheap!). We submitted our application, had it professionally translated, wrote about a thousand checks and submitted to a very long, awkward, static-filled phone interview. We kept our fingers crossed that nothing would go wrong – we’ve heard SO many horror stories from couples who got their hopes up only to have the adoption fall through at the end. Then, finally, just last night, we signed the papers. In three weeks, we’ll be flying to Shanghai (and then taking a nine-hour train ride) to pick up our daughter!
Out of respect for her heritage, we’ve decided to keep her given name, Fu-Ling, at least officially, but we’ll be calling her “Eliza”. We deliberated whose last name to give her, weighing all the implications of each, how our families would feel and, of course, whose name sounded better with Fu-Ling. And in the end we flipped a coin. Welcome Fu-Ling Tappon. (Dammit. Should’ve picked heads… Well, at least the next one will have my name.)
The entire process has been extremely emotional for both of us, and we want to share our joy with all of you. But at the same time, we know that nothing will be final until we have the baby in our hands. So please, no gifts, no showers – not yet. Nothing would be more painful than to sit in an apartment full of baby toys and no baby. Just your love and support is all we need. (Of course, as soon as we get back from China, bring on the free crap!)
We expect it won’t be long before our family outgrows our little apartment, so if anyone knows of a nice, reasonably-priced place, preferably around West Hollywood, let us know!
And since I’m sure everyone wants to see the newest member of our family, her picture is attached below.
Jerry and Drew
> —–Original Message—–
> From: Maxine Rablish
> To: Jerry
> Sent: Tue Mar 30 13:29:21 2004
> Subject: Fwd: Re: [no subject]
> hey, guys!!! well, i had to say five chinese prayers to buddha and sacrifice a goat
> (sorry, sick joke!!!!!!!!), but we finally got a picture out of that crazy woman!! i
> have to say, in all my years of doing this, you prob. scored the cuuuuuuuuutest
> baby ive ever seen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! congrats again and again, kids!!!!! can’t wait
> til you bring her home and i can take you and little eliza out to lunch!!!!! xoxox
> >— happy baby adoption china siyue wrote:
> > Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2004 18:43:57 +0100
> > Subject: Re: [no subject]
> > From: xin-xian xiang
> > To: email@example.com
> >Attachment is pictur of you baby for arrange to pick up china 23 apirl. Too
> >welcome Fu-Ling too happy familiy!
It turns out this is the kind of news people don’t sit on very long. By the time I got to the airport, I received my first call. It was from my sister, who would never normally call at that hour. *snicker, snicker* She tells me how happy she is for us, how annoyed she is that I’ve kept it a secret, how she can’t wait to bring her kids out for a visit with their new cousin… My plan is working, so I play along.
HER: How long have you been trying to do adopt?
ME: Er… a few months. *barely suppressed giggle*
HER: How old is she? She doesn’t look newborn.
ME: No, she’s… er, about seven months. They don’t know her exact birthdate because, er, you know, she’s an orphan and stuff. *barely suppressed guffaw*
At this point, I realize I’m in over my head, so I decide to bail.
ME: Did you notice the baby’s name?
HER: Yeah. Fu-Ling.
ME: And what’s today’s date?
HER: Is this a joke?
ME: April Fool’s!
Nervous laughter on my end. Silence on hers.
HER: That’s not funny. I was really happy for you.
ME: It’s just a joke.
HER: It’s evil.
ME: But– but–
HER: I have to go.
And then it was time to shut my celph off and endure a three-hour plane ride with the knowledge that perhaps I had gone too far.
During that trip, the responses began to come in through email and voicemail. Among my favorite quotes:
“OH MY GOD Congratulations!!!!! That is the best news of the year. I will be smiling all day long.” — Rob
“OH MY FUCKING GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!… I LOVE HER ALREADY!… Danny said she looks like Drew! Which she does!!!… Fuck you, right wingers! I’m so happy!!!” — Victoria
“happy april fools to you too.” — Gavin
“Jerry, congratulations! So this is what you’ve been doing instead of writing?” — Dave B.
“I have a smile a mile wide. Couldn’t happen to a better person!!! PS Please excuse the over use of exclamation points.” — Mikey
“Brilliant. Let me know if anyone falls for it.” — Nick
“Wowee, I can’t be more excited for you guys, I wanted to cry. You both will be the best parents ever… You’ll have to start being a little less perverted though.” — Veronica
“Wow! … You can count on me to hold down the fort while you are gone and help out in any way you guys need. Congratulations!!” – Jigar
“I was assuming you’d keep her original Chinese last name: Fu-Ling Yu… I’m officially making it clear this year that I was not fooled by your email.” — Eric S.
“Holy shit! Congratulations!
FYI my sister is fluent in Chinese if you ever need any translating help in anything please let me know.
Um wait a minute.
Isn’t today April Fools?
god I hate you.
So very much.”
— David M.
“One word- GENIUS!!!” — Bethany
“Holy shit!!!!!!… I can say a few things in Mandarin that might help you… NEE – DA – GEE-GEE – HEN – DA (I have a big weenie)… CHING – WA – DUH – PEE – GOO (Kiss my butt)… I learned it from Chester Li back in high school. Hope it helps.” — Eric N.
“I’ve been had, haven’t I?” — Eric N., a few minutes later
… and then there was a voicemail from my friend Adam:
OHMYGOD! I’MSOHAPPYFORYOU!! OHMYGOD! SHE’SBEAUTIFUL!! I’MEXPLODINGWITHJOYANDLOVEANDHAPPINESSFORYOU! I’MSOSOOOOOOOTHRILLED!!! ICANNOTIMAGINEBETTERPARENTS! OHMYGOD! IT’SSOFUCKINGGREAT!!!!!!!
By the time of my layover in Houston, Drew, who was foolish enough to forward my email around at work was full-on freaking out. I spoke to his assistant, who told me that I might not want to show my face around the MTV offices for a while. Pretty much everyone fell for the joke, pretty much everyone was ecstatic at the news — Lauren even cried — and pretty much everyone was pissed off when they heard they’d been had.
I admit it, I panicked. I told Drew to send out the followup email right away before anybody else busted a gasket either in joy or anger. I dictated a brief postscript, then Drew tossed in a comment of his own, and he sent out the following:
From: Jerry M.
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 2004 15:22:11 -0800
So, what happens when your favorite day of the year happens while you’re out of town? Well, you miss all the fun, that’s what happens!
I have no idea as I write this how many of you (if any) fell for the baby story I sent out yesterday, but if you did, rest assured I was just Fu-Ling. I suspect most of you knew better, and that my tale was a bit too elaborate/culturally insensitive/suspiciously timed to April 1 to trick you. But in case it wasn’t… ha, ha!
If anyone started planning a baby shower, I do apologize. If there are any diaper genies or playpens being shipped to me and Drew via express mail, then surely I will burn in Hell with all the other April Foolers Who Go Too Far. But still… ha, ha!
By the way, “Siyue Hunong” roughly translated = “I am lying”. Thanks, I thought that was a nice touch. And if you do a google image search for “Chinese baby”, you’ll find that picture of Fu-Ling I sent you *cough* suckers *cough*.
In my absence, I’ve given Drew instructions to send this out on my behalf at the stroke of midnight on April 2. (DREW’S COMMENT: I’m sending it earlier. It’s all gone too far.)
Until next year…
PS (dictated, but not read): If anyone was truly hurt by this, I apologize. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I have the greatest friends in the world. And from your response, apparently you all really want Drew and me to have a baby. Of course, after this, when we finally do have a baby, I won’t expect any of you to believe us.
And thus followed a second round of responses:
“Please tell jerry that I fully CRIED!!! You guys are dicks.” — Lauren
“You guys are retarded! And I was about to cry in happiness. JERKS!!” — Veronica
“Hope you have both had a fun time with this. Know you made me feel like an idiot!” — Mrs. Shoe
“This one really goes down in the history books. Nice work, fellas.” — Victoria
“i don’t think this is funny.” — Margaret
“I shoulda known… You stink!” — Michael
“I suck for believeing you however briefly. But you’ll be the one spending time with the fire and brimstone.” — Rob
“You know how I hate to swear, but I can’t help saying you f***ing bastard! …I even told Kirk how depressed I was that not only were all my friends in MN having babies, but even my gay friends in L.A… You a**hole.” — Dave B.
And when I called Adam back and broke the news to him, he was, well, not quite as happy as he was on his voicemail. Two quotes in particular stick out in my mind:
“I will never be happy for you again!”
“Everyone is going to hate you for the rest of time.”
I think by now I’ve groveled for forgiveness from everyone who was upset. Most of them admitted that they just really liked the idea of me and Drew having kids, and they were disappointed when they found out it wasn’t really going to happen. (Maybe someday…) My sister proceeded to forward my email to just about everyone she knew, and some of them forwarded it to people they knew, too. Almost all of these people told my sister to lighten up, but apparently, my sister’s former co-worker’s friend’s mother thinks I’m a real jackass. (Oh, yeah? You too, lady!)
So I think I need to add a few more rules to my list of April Fool’s guidelines: Don’t set people up for too big a disappointment when they learn you were lying, don’t include a picture of the most adorable baby in the world, and whatever you do, don’t make Lauren cry. To all I offended with this prank, I am sincerely sorry.
But still… ha, ha!