It’s almost the end of April, a special time of year, a time when I remember how I was trolled for almost fifteen years by a book about Charlie Brown.
Okay. Here’s the deal. When I was a kid, I used to read a lot. And I always loved reading non-fiction books. (I still do, since fiction is really just a bunch of lies.) Among my absolute favorite books were the series entitled Charlie Brown’s Super Book of Questions and Answers. I had the first four in the series. The first one was about animals, the second about space, the third about vehicles, and the fourth about people around the world. It was a bunch of questions and answers designed for kids, illustrated throughout with Peanuts images. Apparently these books were the forerunner of Charlie Brown’s ‘Cyclopedia, but I never had those. Anyway, the book that trolled me was this one:
So, this one included information about holidays and how they’re celebrated around the world. And the factoid that always stuck with me was about April Fools Day. I remember there being a callout on one of the pages that said: In some countries, April Fools Day is celebrated twice, on April 1 and April 31! And for some reason, I found that bit of trivia unbelievably interesting.
I told my parents. They didn’t care much. I told my friends. Nobody cared. It stuck in my mind for years. And I remember telling this to people, with no justification for why it came up, all the way up through high school. It was my non sequitur par excellence. And nobody ever cared. Every now and then I’d consider playing an April Fools joke on somebody at the end of April, on the 31st, but I’d always forget to. But it was just always so interesting to me! Why? I had no idea!
Until I was in college. I was nineteen or twenty. It was late one night when I was walking to the Giant supermarket with my friend Pete. (We did that literally every night…and that’s a topic for another day.) We were talking and walking, and then suddenly I just stopped. My mouth hung open, and I couldn’t speak or move. You see, my favorite factoid had just popped into my head. I thought I’d tell Pete about my April Fool trivia. Surely he’d find it interesting, even if literally nobody else in the last fifteen years of my life ever had. But before I could utter, “Did you know that…”, something occurred to me that knocked my brain right out of my head. Eventually, Pete noticed that I had stopped. He turned and said, “You okay?” And all I could say was:
“April only has thirty days.”
Yeah. That book trolled me for fifteen years. Well done, book.
UPDATE: I wrote this entry a few days ago, and scheduled it to go out today. Shortly after writing it, I thought, “You know, I’d like to see that book again.” I found a cheap used copy of it online, and bought it. It just arrived, and it brought back memories. Of course, I immediately turned to the page with the question about April Fools Day. I wanted to see the sentence that had trolled me.
It wasn’t there. There was information on April Fools Day, but nothing about other countries or April 31. Nothing. The sentence didn’t exist. I told my wife. Heather said, “You probably had a lot of books like that when you were a kid. You probably read it in a different one.” Yeah, maybe. So I did some Googling. Eventually I found a “holiday trivia” site entirely in Comic Sans. It included this line:
In Germany and Norway, April Fool’s day is celebrated twice:
On April 1 and on April 30.
That sounds really familiar. Like, really familiar. Like I read it before, a long time ago. But please notice something: it says April 30, not April 31. So here’s my current theory: I read that trivium about Germany and Norway when I was a young child. It intrigued me, and I told many people about it. Somewhere along the way, I played a game of Chinese Whispers in my own head, and “April 30” became “April 31.” And so, on that fateful night on the way to Giant, I was shocked to realize that there is no April 31. Which means that Charlie Brown never trolled me…I actually trolled myself. And it’s even better, because I’ve told the story of that Giant walk for about twenty years now, which means that I actually trolled myself for the better part of thirty-five years.
You know what I said before about preferring non-fiction to fiction? I think maybe I really don’t know the difference. This is ridiculous.