Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Everybody plays the fool

... and some of them share their stories

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Watch out sleepyhead! It's April Fool's Day and some people are waking up with pranks to play on you — or they're about to become your victims themselves! Some of you may have red faces remembering times you were played for the fool on the first day of April. Here's a collection of exceptional pranks played on people you may recognize.

 

Bob Sokalski,

Winnipeg lawyer

"I was a victim in the mid-'90s — and it was the late Harold Buchwald who got me, back in the days before voice mail," says Bob Sokalski. An ambitious 30-something lawyer at the time, Sokalski was a partner at Pitblado & Hoskin. One spring morning he got a hailstorm of pink message notes from Buchwald, a senior partner at Buchwald Asper Gallagher Henteleff.

"Harold wanted me to call him back confidentially about merging our firms. He was saying things like, 'Let's exchange financial statements and details and possible conflicts.' I was flattered he'd communicate with me rather than more senior guys in my firm. I kept getting all these questions on notes until lunchtime. (That's when April Fool's Day officially ends). Then I got a phone call from Harold, saying, 'Bobby, check your calendar!' "

"I could feel the hook firmly planted in my cheek like a big fish being pulled up on the dock. I couldn't have laughed louder; I had tears!"

That was 1992. The irony? In the spring of 1998, discussions took place in earnest and a merger did materialize. The new firm was called Pitbaldo Buchwald Asper. "It was an April Fool's prank come true. One day Harold and I toasted the new merger and we said to each other, 'Who knew?' "

 

Ami Hassan

Co-owner of The Falafel Place

 

SDLqAPRIL Fool's Day is big in Israel, very big," says the playful co-owner of the south end breakfast hang-out, who's been known to have water bottle spraying fights at his restaurant. "One year I was 21 years old, going to university in Tel Aviv studying to be a math teacher, when I took this girl home on a trip with me to see my parents and I announced to my parents we had gotten secretly married."

The girl played along with the joke.

"My parents were stunned. They didn't know what to say. Hassan let his folks twist in the wind for a while, pretending they were so in love and it was oh-so-true, until he finally yelled triumphantly: "April Fool!"

 

Nicole Alexander

Author of Cyber Love Muse, a how-to Internet dating book (launches Monday night at McNally Robinson, 7:30 p.m.)

 

SDLqMY April Fool's happened on Valentine's Day three years ago. I was completely taken in, in the worst way humanly possible. I was played for the biggest fool by a Cuban artist from the Castro era living in Miami," says the Winnipeg teacher. "He seemed to be answering my questions very candidly. I told him I wasn't interested in engaging romantically but he started calling me on a regular basis." They got into trading life stories and things became close and intimate. "He said he'd gotten a job that summer at a university here as an artist-in-residence, and had a ticket to Winnipeg and was staying at the Marlborough, and if things worked out we'd have to figure out the rest of our lives. He said he'd seen me in his dreams and he knew I was the One. He was good, oh my God he was good!"

Then he dropped off the face of the earth.

Alexander checked the university and the Marlborough and they'd never heard of the man. The romance was over.

"I cried and cried. I see he's still on Plenty of Fish (an online dating site). I think he was entertaining himself. He knew I was writing the book because I had been fooled before, and I wanted to help people learn about not being fooled. But his was the most elaborate fooling ever."

Jon Ljungberg

Comedian/special event co-ordinator at the Riverview Health Centre Foundation

 

"THE staff got me good one year live on Breakfast Television."

The prank was spearheaded by floor director Jonny Cameron. They had Lungberg dressed in a court jester's outfit, complete with tights and a hat with bells on it for April Fool's Day.

"I had an author coming on and they didn't give me the book until the day before and I didn't have time to read it. When he came on he was kind of grumpy, and I tried to cover my butt by asking him to tell people about his book. 'Didn't you read my book?' he said. 'For crying out loud, isn't it enough that you're dressed like a damn clown and you didn't even read my book?' Then he stomped off the set. I had the book in my hand and didn't look at it until later when it was pointed out to me it was APRIL FOOL in Spanish. The guy who left in a huff was not even an author, but a drama teacher from University of Manitoba. I was shaking! I didn't know how to recover, plus I'm standing there in tights. How do I bounce back from that?" Cut to commercial, QUICK!

 

Miss La Muse

Winnipeg burlesque performer and teacher

 

ANGELA La Muse started pranking very young. "My favourite joke on my parents on April Fool's Day was to replace the sugar with salt for their coffee and it worked year after year because they were always so sleepy in the mornings. Then my sister and I used to fake death scenes. I would lay at the bottom of the stairs in a fake pool of blood to freak her out. And my sister would lay at the bottom of a tree like she fell out of it and died. We were only about seven and nine. My parents would get very concerned and think we were hurt -- for about a second!

"Mom had a good sense of humour and I get a lot from her."

Now Mom is a great supporter of her daughter's career as a burlesque dancer. A lot of good-natured fooling goes into burlesque routines -- now you see it, or think you see it, and now you don't.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 1, 2012 A8

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