An Abnormal Chain of Fools

I know, it has been over a week since my last post… I could tell you that I have been busy but you probably wouldn’t buy it. I could tell you that I am trying to create demand and that people are constantly asking for a new post, but that isn’t happening (apparently you all think you have better things to do than read what I write…) However, I am surprised every time someone new tells me they have read some of these things. It’s really cool that people are actually taking some time to read, so thank you.

I have been trying to come up with some fictional stuff to throw in but it is not quite there yet so I will tell another true story. Sorry mom…

April 2005. I was nearing the end of my sophomore year of college. I had officially declared my major would be Psychology and was taking primarily psych courses. One course specifically was giving me a tough time, Abnormal Psychology. This was not because I found the material to be difficult but it was because I had chosen to take it once a week every Wednesday for 2 & 1/2 hours from 6:30 – 9. This was a horrible decision, because missing one class was like missing an entire week. I had an exam coming up and was a little nervous about it because a bad grade would put a lot of pressure on the last month of the class and I don’t deal well with stress.

I was on the phone with my mom for my semi-wee, semi-mon, ummm, my guilt relieving call to check in (ask for money) and she could sense that something was on my mind. I told her about the exam and that I was nervous about it. She, of course, said all of the right things calming me down and telling me to study hard. That is exactly what I did.

After I took the exam, I left doing what I usually did… second guessing and convincing myself that I had failed the test (I dare anyone to walk a mile in my shoes of worry and self-doubt). It was a long week waiting to find out exactly how bad my test had gone. Finally, Wednesday came and I walked into the lecture hall.

The class was taught by a younger grad student who did a very good job and actually helped to make this course one of my favorite that I took during my college career. He was a laid back guy who made everything relatable and interesting for me. On that day something was different…

He was pacing back and forth at the front of the lecture hall that held about 250 people who was less than 1/3 full. As we all took our seats students were exchanging nervous glances about what was going on, then, at 6:30 on the nose he yelled, “take your seats!”

This was definitely out of character… Oh, shit, I thought. This was not good, it had to be because of the test results and since I was usually not a curve setter I knew this was going to be a long Wednesday night in Abnormal Psych.

I remember this next part so vividly as it is frequently replayed in my re-occurring nightmares about school.

“I don’t know what to say” he said after we all had promptly taken our seats, “what did I do wrong? Was I not clear about what would be covered on the exam? I have never seen such a horrible collective group of test scores… now, not all of you performed badly but the only thing I can think of is to have you all take a new test tonight so that I can be sure that the scores were not due to me wording questions poorly.”

There were some groans in the room (nerds, like they wouldn’t get the same or better score tonight as they did on the first test). For me this was a second chance, I still had no clue what I got on the first test but I could only assume it was a failing grade. Then it hit me, I hadn’t been studying for this exam and


whatever I had studied prior to the last class had been erased by a massive weekend of binge drinking (damn you Busch Light! … Just kidding, I can’t stay mad at you). My chest tightened as he walked up the aisles passing out my latest death sentence and I could swear he looked a little happy about it… my hands were sweating and I could feel the lump rising up in my throat (NO, I didn’t cry… I just wanted to).

I could barely hold on to my pencil as I started on the first question… this was going to be bad. As I was guessing on the 4th or 5th question I was interrupted…

“Put down your pencils” he said, “I want all of you to think carefully about what you are feeling physically and mentally” he paused as we looked at him confused, then he went on, “this is how people with anxiety disorders feel all the time.”

No shit, I thought, not understanding what was going on. Then I realized (a little late) that it was all part of his joke. He explained that the test results were actually quite good and passed out our results. I did, well. I think I got a B, but at this point a passing grade would have felt like an A+.

After the lecture I was walking home, I picked up my phone to call my mom to tell her about what had just happened and the test results when something stopped me… Friday was April Fools Day and I had an idea… I was about to apply something I learned in school to my real life, this was exciting.

I spent all day Thursday thinking about what I should say and what would really fool my mom. Then it all made sense, I had the perfect plan because the set up had already been done. You see, I get my worry, um, gene from my mother and knowing this meant that she had been worrying about that test since our conversation (probably more than I was). It was almost to easy…

April 1st – D-Day. The plan was perfect, I had decided that I would call my mom after my last class Friday once I got home. When I walked into my house I went up to my room and overheard some roommates who had already started their weekend. I went in, got a beer and told them about my plan. They agreed that it was genius and insisted that I remained in the room while I made the call.

My parents were in Florida at the time for a conference that my dad was attending which meant that it was early enough in the day that my mom would be someplace warm (in the shade) reading her latest novel. Perfect time to call… (what I didn’t know is that she had actually been sick and I fairly bad cold).

I dialed with my speaker phone turned on… “Hey!” she said as her phone told her that I was calling.

“H-Hi…” I said with my voice shaking in a way that I knew would lead her to determine that something was wrong.

Immediately she responded, “What’s wrong?”

“Well… I don’t know exactly how to say it…” I said as my roommates worked to stifle their laughter.

“Just tell me” she said sternly, “what’s wrong?” I could tell the anxiety was building.

“Well, y-you know the test we tal…”

“What about it?” she interrupted.

“It didn’t go very well.”

“Did you fail?”

“Not exactly…”

“Just tell me what happened” she said.

I was working on keeping my laughter under control when I said, “I got caught cheating…”

Silence.

“Mom?”

“Ugh, why? What happens now?”

“Well, I don’t know exactly but it sounds like I will be suspended for the rest of the semester since it is a first offense… I’m sorry.”

“Why were you cheating?”

“I didn’t want to fail! I was nervous.”

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph… what were you thinking?” she was getting mad now.

“I wasn’t I guess, I’m sorry.”

“You have been doing this all along haven’t you? This isn’t the first time is it?”

(This prank was so good that it made her questions her gifted, talented baby’s integrity… I was actually really surprised when she said that, but I guess I deserved it)

“What? NO!”

“I don’t know what I am going to tell your father…” she thought out loud then continued, “what do you do now?”

“I don’t know…”

“What do you mean you don’t know?!” now she was really mad… it was time to end it.

“Mom?”

“What?!”

“Mom?”

“WHAT?!”

“April Fools!” I said through laughter as the other 3 or 4 roommates in the room all crowded around the phone as we all laughed together. I took the phone off speaker and put it up to my ear. “Mom?” I said still laughing. I couldn’t hear anything over the laughter so I walked out of the room, “Mom?”

Finally she responded, “G-good job, you really g-got (gasp, gasp) me!”

“Mom, don’t cr…” I tried to say before she hung up. Oops, I thought. The joke was a little too perfect I guess… I was still laughing, though (come one you were laughing too, it was perfect!).

I quickly called her back and she answered by saying, “that wasn’t very nice!” she was starting to laugh it off. I told her that truth about what had happened and then she explained that she had been sick which made me feel worse for making her worry and cry, but in the end we hung up on good terms.

A couple of hours went by and I had a couple more beers when my phone rang, the caller ID said Dad.

Hmmm, I thought, am I in trouble?

“Hey Dad!” I said in a cheery voice trying not to sound too drunk in the middle of the afternoon as I had participating in my favorite activity… day drinking.

“Quite the April Fools joke!” he said.

See, it turns out that after I had gotten off the phone with my mom she had slowly realized the genius of the joke and decided that it was good enough to use on my dad when he got out of his meeting, she is much more brave than I am, even though they were in Florida… I didn’t think for a second that the 1,700 miles gave me a big enough head start to play this joke on my dad and here my mom using the joke on him in the same room!

The joke reduced my dad to tears (I get the worrying from my mom and the crying from my dad) after he had accused me of cheating all along (writing this makes me wonder why my parents had so little faith in me… I blame my siblings).

Growing up I was never good with practical jokes, my older brother got that gene. But this one, this one was a gift from the heavens perfectly wrapped and it would have been a crime against humanity NOT to use it. I haven’t pulled a real April Fools joke since, I am waiting for the next perfect situation to present itself… Mom, I can’t promise you won’t be in the receiving end of the next one…

Cheers.

One thought on “An Abnormal Chain of Fools

  1. Pingback: What’s in the box? | Tim Talks

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