If you sensed a blip in the universe last week, if suddenly it seemed that down was up and yes was no and blue was some sort of brownish gray, I think I can explain…

This year, I skipped April Fools’ Day.

And yes, it was as painful as it sounds.

I realize that George Clooney considers April Fools’ Day to be amateur hour. But that’s not fair. Unless you’re Ashton Kutcher or Dick Clark or maybe — maybe — the star of O Brother Where Art Thou, April 1 is the only day you can pull mean-spirited pranks on your loved ones and not be a total asshole for it. So I spend 364 days a year building up trust, doing good deeds and convincing people what a kind, pure-hearted soul I am. But it’s all an act – an act orchestrated in service of the once-a-year unleashing of my true demented self.

April 1 is my Christmas, a day I look forward to and plan for months in advance, my devious little head busily concocting acts of deviltry my friends and family mistakenly think I’m incapable of. Sometimes in August or November or even early May, someone will notice my gaze drifting off, my little mind wandering, and they’ll ask me what I’m thinking about. “Oh, nothing,” I’ll say. Little do they know I’m plotting my next attack.

Last year, I pulled a prank so big, which fooled so many and angered them so greatly, it may have inadvertently been the prank to end all pranks. This year, I woke up to find myself in the prankster’s worst nightmare.

They were on to me.

By mid-March, my usual marks were dropping hints that they were expecting something. They were whispering the name Fu-Ling in my presence, tossing it about in mass emails and subtly inquiring what I had in store for this year.

This made things difficult, if not impossible. I had to rethink my approach. As my wily mind churned away, I began to ponder my remaining options…

  • Find a new audience. I have a new job this year, and thus a whole new crop of poor, trusting souls who know me only as the wafer-thin façade that is Innocent Jerry. Unfortunately, my work schedule had me out of the office on Friday, making it difficult to pull and impossible to fully enjoy any prank, thus foiling my scheme. Drat!
  • Prank the blog. I considered doing an elaborate makeover of my site, redubbing it Why Geri Why and plastering the image of Geri Jewell (beloved cousin of Blair Warner and poster woman for C.P.) everywhere. I’d fill the content with behind-the-scenes gossip from the set of Deadwood, bitter rants against celebrity spanking advocate Lisa Welchel and links to Cerebral Palsy resources and foundations. But it felt too much like a copy of pranks others have pulled on their blogs, and Jewell pics were surprisingly hard to come by. Plus, I couldn’t convince myself that I’d know how to get my old content back come April 2. Curses!
  • A postmodern prank. Maybe instead of doing what people expected me to do, I could prank them by not pranking them – better yet, by making them think they were being pranked, when in actuality, I wasn’t pranking them at all! And I had the perfect story. I’d let everyone know that I did a pilot for MTV that had been picked up for ten episodes. I’d throw in just enough details to make it seem semi-plausible… “Honestly, I was just spitballing ideas with Drew one day, and he heard something he liked, so he asked me to type up a treatment. Then, he submitted the treatment anonymously to his department, and they actually liked it!” Then, I’d wait for the poor chump to say, “Oh, right. Happy April Fools’ Day to you, too!” And no matter how much I swore it was true, Chump would just be more defiant, eventually turning up his nose and stomping off thinking he’d outsmarted me for once. Cut to: many months from now, when the show finally hits the air, I’d call up each chump as the credits were rolling and shout, “April Non-Fools, Sucka!” The problem: my news seeped out in the weeks before the big day, and there was no one left to use it on. Plus, those credit windows are so small these days. Zounds!
  • Pull a prank so elaborate, even the skeptics would have to believe it. If only I could work myself into the Michael Jackson trial or invent a time machine, perhaps I could top myself. Maybe I could convince my friends and family that I’d been appointed the new Ambassador to Zaire… if only I could learn Swahili and somehow arrange a congressional hearing to be aired on CSPAN. Eh… not with a Republican president. They’d never buy it. Argh!
  • Simplify, simplify, simplify. On the flip side, maybe what I needed to do was exactly the opposite. People were expecting something big. What they wouldn’t expect was, “Ow! I stubbed my toe! … April Fool!” Hmmm… or maybe this is why Dr. Ross thinks it’s amateur hour. Harumph!

So I chose another, regrettable option:

  • Retire from pranking permanently.

Sure, it’s drastic, but unfortunately it’s the only dignified choice. Nothing’s sadder than a guy who thinks he’s pranking people when really, they’re onto him the whole time, sharing a derisive snicker at his futile attempts to deceive them. “My, how Jerry has fallen,” they’d say. “Sad, isn’t it?” And as pranks go, last year’s goof wasn’t a bad one to go out on. I can resign proudly on it.

Besides, think of all the time this will free up – not just on April 1st, but on all those other occasions when I’d daydream about pulling the perfect stunt, blueprinting elaborate deceptions in my head to see which ones would have the maximum impact. Think of what I could accomplish in all those wasted hours. I could take up a hobby, learn a trade, feed the homeless.

Or then again, maybe I’ll just start learning Swahili.

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