I’ve always liked April Fool’s Day. Not too many people are fooled by my pranks, but over the years, quite a few have put one over on me. It tickles them so, I don’t have the heart not to laugh at myself.
When I first moved to Columbus, back in 1972, I quickly became an avid reader of Mike Harden’s columns in The Columbus Dispatch. His wry sense of humor really appealed to me. I, like a lot of others who read his column religiously, felt like I knew him. Mike was a judge at a writing competition that I’d entered one year. When I managed to snag one of the prizes, I was invited to a dinner in honor of those who won.
Mike sat on stage, along with the other judges, all of whom were to have their dinner served in full view of everyone down below at the tables. I got the wild idea to talk to the server and get her to agree to join me and pull a prank on him.
I happened to have in my possession a plastic ball marked like an eyeball. The server took it back to the kitchen, washed it, and stuck it right in the middle of Mike’s mashed potatoes. She served the plates with a perfectly straight face.
Several of us at the table down below who worked for The Madison Press knew what was going on and watched Mike’s face when his dinner was served. He froze in place and just stared down at his plate for a few seconds. Slowly, his eyes shifted left and right, expecting to see a reaction from one of the others beside him. Nobody noticed anything out of the ordinary.
With great self-restraint, he plucked the eyeball out of his plate, wiped it off and placed it beside his fork. He then ate the food without missing a beat. I left the mystery of the eyeball in the mashed potatoes unsolved for years, figuring it was much more intriguing left to his imagination.
He got me, and a lot of other people, one year when he went into great detail in his column about the two rusty old metal stacks that stuck up out of the Scioto River close to the Long Street bridge at the northwestern edge of town.
He explained the Civil War raid that brought a steam ship up the Scioto, ran it aground, and sank it in that very spot, leaving nothing visible but the stacks. Never mind the fact that the river is probably all of 6 feet deep at that particular spot. I swallowed the tale in one big gulp. We laughed at my gullibility years later when I told the tale at a writing class Mike led at the West Jefferson Library. Mike Harden lives on through several books he wrote. I re-read them every few years.
Last April 1 wasn’t so funny. I was in an accident on the highway that fractured my sternum, totaled my car, and left me moving with great caution for a couple of months. Still, I almost always enjoy April Fool’s Day. Now I even have a son-in-law born on April 1.
In honor of all the April fools out there, I’ll make the perfect dessert on April 1 — a fruit fool.
This is an old-fashioned dish, very popular in colonial days. Let’s bring it back.
2 cups fresh raspberries or strawberries
powdered sugar to taste
2 cups thick whipping cream
3 tablespoons kirsch
Wash and drain berries. Place them in a large bowl. Add sugar to taste. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes. Add cream and kirsch; fold to mix thoroughly.
Chill well and serve in bowls. Can be served with macaroons or ladyfingers.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.