April Fool to all you dweebs out there!

My mention of “subsidiarity” last night reminded me of the most elaborate April Fool’s joke every played on me, which I told about here a few years back:

In the years after I first read about it, I was enough of a bore about the concept in the editorial suite of The State that one April 1st, at the instigation of then-Publisher Ann Caulkins, my colleagues played a truly elaborate April Fool’s prank on me that was entirely based on some supposed new research debunking subsidiarity. It was probably the most esoteric, nerdy prank ever played on anyone in South Carolina history. The sort of thing the geeks on “The Big Bang” might play on each other, only with them it would be about physics instead of political philosophy — some knee-slapper having to do with the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, perhaps….

In the end, the joke didn’t work out, because I was too impatient to play along. It went like this: We gathered for our morning (or perhaps it was the weekly, since the publisher was there, eager to participate in the gag) editorial board meeting, a session in which all sorts of issues were thrown onto the table for discussion so we could discuss and arrive at positions for editorials.

As we started, Cindi Scoppe produced a long, dry-looking document, bound in the kind of folder we used in school for term papers, that she said contained some important new findings that completely debunked the validity of subsidiarity. She said they were all sure I’d be interested. She urged me to read it immediately.

I got irritated instead of interested. We had a lot of issues to talk about, things we needed to write about. And they wanted to sit there and watch me read something and have my mind magically changed on something this complex? It was absurd anyway; there was no way this could, in a few minutes’ reading, disprove something like that.

But they urged me, “Just look over it!” and “Just scan it briefly!” Which was even more ridiculous, because a mere scan would never convince me of such a thing. I kept putting it down and trying to move on, but finally Cindi said something like, “Just look at the last page!”

So, in order to end it, I did. And of course, it said, “April Fool’s.”

Yeah, OK. Ha, and also ha.

I feel a bit bad for ruining my friends’ fun, but there it was. It had probably been funny when they first thought of it. And it was nice that it was so personalized, so esoteric, so very much something that would appeal only to the kind of dweeb who is on an editorial board. It was, in its way, thoughtful towards me and who I was.

Which reminds me of an old poster I found in my closet while cleaning up the other day. I didn’t go to the conference, but I liked the poster. I’ll see if I can roll it out and take a picture of it…





2 thoughts on “April Fool to all you dweebs out there!

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Yeah, I know that won’t interest y’all. But sometimes I use the platform more as a personal journal, just so I can remember things myself. Bear with me, please. I’ll try to be more interesting later.

    And that memory reminds me of another, from 1997. It involved Fred Mott, Ann’s predecessor as publisher. That was when he named me editorial page editor, which for some time had been the only job I wanted. We’d been through this long, tedious, suspenseful process, and I had been impressed by some of my competition. So when Fred finally told I had the job, I was very relieved and of course very happy.

    But one thing he said caused some uneasiness: He said it would take effect on April 1.

    In the very beginning of the very first of those Aubrey/Maturin books I love, Jack Aubrey is a down-and-out, discouraged lieutenant without a ship. Then he receives a written order naming him to his first command. His heart soars, then sinks briefly when he notes the date on the document: “1st April, 1800.”

    So he holds the document up to a light, and is relieved to see the watermark of the Admiralty.

    There was no watermark on my appointment to “command” the editorial board, but I decided I believed Fred…


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