By MC O’Bryant
Special to the Tribune
It’s a holiday! No! No! “April Fools,” is not a holiday. Its a Koala Day! A neologism inspired by the oft mislabeled, but non-the-less, adorable furry-eared marsupial, the Australian Koala Bear, which is, of course, not really a bear at all.
Just like the adorable Koala is not really a bear, likewise many of our most adorable and celebrated holidays such as Saint Patrick’s Day, Halloween and Valentines Day are not really holidays and that, “My fellow Americans,” is a downright pity.
Because, for too long, our beloved sub-holidays have remained without a principled designation.
So, enough already! Why not take a moniker from down-under and call them not holidays, with the obligatory disclaimers, but, pridefully, Koala Days. After all, like the Koala, if only it were a bear it would surely be among the best loved of all bears. And, so it is with the Koala Days such as “All Fools Day” and “Sadie Hawkins Day” which, if not for the Koala Bear Effect would likely be towering favorites among our nation’s nine legally recognized holidays.
Yes, here it is April Fools Day again and we don’t even know who to thank. But, this we do know. Its plebeian appeal is lasting! Celebrated in other parts of the world as “All Fools Day,” its origins predate the birth of our nation.
The most plausible account of the origin of April Fools Day traces back to medieval times when New Years Day was celebrated on or about April 1. But, then in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII directed that henceforth, Jan. 1 would mark the beginning of the New Year.
Conflicted by the two opposing calendars, those who were quick to adopt the new Gregorian Calendar sometimes found an irresistible, however, sordid amusement in playing calendaring tricks on the uninitiated who were still relying on the outdated Julian Calendar that, during its inception, had been regulated by Julius Caesar. And, so it was that down through the centuries, the Julian and Gregorian Calendars vis-a-vis served as variable repertory (wellspring) for village clowns and practical jokers.
The widely accepted view is that Russia in 1917 was the last of the western world countries to sign on with the Gregorian chronicle. By then, the frivolity and light-headed behavior that had come to be associated with April 1 had taken legs and found residence across much of the globe.
However, with new millennials, April Fools Day has been about as much of a non-event as a “Big Nothing” can possibly be. That may all be about to change. April 1, 2016, seems poised for a different landing. With Google threatening to remove steering wheels from automobiles and Flint, Michigan, charging premium prices for poison water, “All Fools Day, 2016” takes on a whole new bluster.
The recognition that we do not have Pulitzer Prize equivalence awards for April Fools Day does not stem from any lack of infamous accomplishers worthy of such notoriety. Indeed, not counting the “R rated,” sound-bites from the presidential campaign debates, here’s my pick of the top five “Too foolish to be believed” April Fool-like calamities from the past year.
Affluenza, the word is not even found in my dictionary, but nevertheless it’s certainly easy enough to surmise that it’s a conjugation of the word affluent, which I had always been made to believe was something to be desired with a “the more, the better” connotation about it. Fooled again! So said a Texas court which found a young man innocent of vehicular manslaughter. The court, relying upon a staggeringly unbelievable logic, reasoned that the defendant’s altogether too lavish and affluent upbringing had left him severely affected with affluenza and thus, not responsible for his homicidal behavior. Once again, solemnly affirming the relevance of “All Fools Day!”
Art aficionados with April Fool nuances will want to see this conundrum right up there on the medal winners’ stand of April Fools all time best. Claims are made by two reputable buyers – one a high powered art dealer, Larry Gagosian; the other, the royal family of Qatar, to whom Maya Widmaier-Picasso, daughter of Pablo Picasso, sold each of them Picasso’s acclaimed sculpture of his muse and mistress. First sold in 2014 for about $42 million to representatives of the royal family, Maya, ostensibly, again sold the very same work of art (to which the Qatar royal family claims she has no right) to Mr. Gagosian for a whopping $106 million – a “Nobody’s Fool” markup of $64 million.
The courts will decide!
With the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football league, a chip shot field goal and 22 seconds away from advancing in their march to the 2016 Super Bowl, their million dollar place holder had only to place the ball on the turf with the laces away from the kicker. The job proved to be more than he could handle, and in an April Fools moment, on one January Sunday afternoon, the kicker, striking the disruptive composition of the lopsided laces, sent the ball left of the uprights.
So, if you should find yourself hanging out with a Vikings fan this April Fools Day, you may wish to avoid the use of the “K word.”
On Jan. 11, 2016, the citizenry of the village of Whitesboro, New York, by a vote of 157 to 55 rejected a proposal to remove from the city logo what some found to be racist and offensive.
In question is the merciless depiction on the logo of a white person in a very aggressive posture, displaying genuine intentions of mayhem by choking a docile and defenseless looking Indian (Native American). Sometimes, as in Whitesboro, April Fools Day just can’t wait.
It makes me believe that we should have a National April Fools Day Hall of Fame and I believe that the village of Whitesboro should be its home!
So, for me, arriving at the singular most spectacular faux pas of the year involved an audacious task of raking through a mountainous stack of withering April Fool worthy blunders.
In the end, my mind is set – and, the irreversible “slam dunk” winner is Steve Harvey. Before a transfixed global TV audience of millions, Mr. Harvey, acting as M.C. for the Miss Universe Contest, stunned the world by initially awarding and then only minutes later ingloriously wresting the Miss Universe crown from the first elated and then despondent head of Miss Columbia.
In the most anti-climactic moment in the annals of the Miss Universe contest, he did, at last, manage to place the itinerant crown upon the glamorous, albeit bedazzled head of Miss Philippines.
No “April Fools” this time.
And, to all a Happy Koala Day.