058:336 Prank

Today, the first day of April, is always a fun day.

Creativity and craftiness run amok on April Fools’ Day and I do so enjoy seeing the output of all this wackiness.

Some of favorite examples of well-crafted pranks include Google’s 2013 announcement of the shutting down of YouTube, San Diego’s KGB-FM 1993 prank where they fooled their listening audience into thinking that the Space Shuttle Discovery would be landing at a local one-runway airport, and the grand-daddy of them all – the 1957 news report from BBC about the spaghetti tree harvest.

While my enjoyment of this special day has come from being a spectator viewing the shenanigans from afar, the was one 4/1 where I was the main event.

This is my story.

It is April 1, 1987 (thirty years ago today) and I am a freshman at Northwestern University. It is around eight-thirty in the evening and I am walking back from Annie Mae Swift after completing a newscast for WNUR Radio. There is a spring to my step because the weather is becoming more spring-like. There is also a smile on my face because I feel I have escaped the devious mind of Bill on this April Fools’ Day.

My roommate, Bill, is a bit of a jester. In addition to the duck joke placed in the middle of one of his papers (as previously reported on here), he once brought a hamster as our pet into our dorm room and called it “Fish”. The reason being was that while our dorm had a strict no-pets policy, the one exception was for fish. So, Bill could always claim that our dorm pet was a “Fish” and thus in line with the policy.

So, I am feeling as if I have dodged a bullet as I walk into my dorm, through the lobby, and into the hallway where our room is. I turn a corner and enter our shared living space when I stop short and simply stand there in the doorway.

Half of our room is exactly as it was when I left to do the newscast. Bill’s side is completely as I remembered. As for my side, there is nothing that is the same (save one thing) because there is nothing there. Everything from my side of the room is completely gone, save for a pile of clothes that had been under my bed (which I had planned to throw into the laundry some time later in the week).

Bill is sitting at his desk reading a book and he nonchalantly looks up and asks how my newscast went. I tell him it went okay and take a step backward to peer down the hallway. I can see faces start to poke out of their doorways to watch my reaction.

I remain unfazed by the fact that everything (minus the pile of dirty clothes) I own is gone. I comment to Bill that the room looks different. Bill remarks that he picked up and cleaned up a few things and then he suggests that I take a trip across the hall and check out the bathroom.

I step into our hallway’s communal restroom and see my side of the room lovingly recreated amid the sinks and showers. I turn and ask Bill if this was a solo job and he informs me that the whole hallway helped. I am impressed by this community effort even to the fact that all my posters that I had hung on my wall and ceiling are also placed on the wall and ceiling in the bathroom.

I am so impressed, I even pose for a picture (see below).



I congratulate Bill on a wonderful prank and he thanks everyone for their hard work. Bill then suggests that I take about a thirty-minute walk and that when I return, he and his minions will have my room back it its original glory.

The man, as always, was true to his word.

To this day, three decades later, it is the best April Fools’ Day prank anyone has played on me.

That’s my story.

P.S. There was a time where I was the perpetrator of an April Fools’ Day prank and it involved a radio station in San Diego, but that’s a story for another day.


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