I don’t particularly believe in cosmic justice, but if I did, I might have to conclude that I tempted the gods of fortune with an April Fool’s joke I played on my father 20 years ago. At the time, I was cohabiting with my boyfriend, who is now my husband. Some of my family members were less than comfortable with this fact, although my father seemed to be all right with it. He might have just been too busy to think about it, as he was a rather harassed criminal lawyer with a booming practice. I thought that dear old dad might be a good, relatively safe target for a little innocent April Fool’s Day fun, but what I didn’t bargain for was the long-term ironic backlash that played out afterwards.
On the day in question, April 1, 1992, I left a short message on my father’s answering machine. All it said was, “Dad, I’m pregnant. I love you. Call me back.” Of course I got a quick return call, maybe 2 hours later, wherein he seemed to be a bit flustered and stumbled over an uncertain, “Uh, congratulations. I think.” It was clear he was rattled. Here was his unmarried daughter, still in college, living in “sin” and all that. I can only imagine that he pictured desperate requests for financial assistance, weeping conversations, uncomfortable talks with relatives, the whole works.I pictured his thought bubble containing the words “single mother” floating around next to a picture of me, now altered to include tousled hair and to exclude shoes.
Then I laid on the “April Fool!” Although he was greatly relieved, I noticed his formerly full head of hair had developed a distinct bald spot about 3 months later. It had also turned completely gray, practically overnight. After my boyfriend became my husband, my formerly pranked father began pestering me for that long-promised grandchild, the one that had dissolved in an exclamation of April foolery. My mother and my grandmother also tapped their fingers and asked what I was going to name my firstborn.
20 years later, I have never conceived or given birth, nor have I even managed a feeble positive reading on a pregnancy test. I am not exactly sure why, although superstitious folks might theorize that I tried God’s patience on that long ago April Fool’s Day and thus engendered an April Fool’s joke heaped upon my own head from on high. I made sporadic but often determined attempts to become pregnant until the late 1990’s, when I was involved in a serious car accident that left me with chronic back and hip pain. After that incident, I slowly gave up the idea of having children.
I am now 46, and my dogs are my beloved “children.” I can’t decide if it is a good or bad thing that human offspring eluded me, but I know I love my dogs with all my heart! If it was a divine joke on me, then the outcome is ambiguous. I have grown used to life without children, although I enjoy the rare visits with my brother’s two boys, who are rambunctious enough to make me wonder if the cosmic April Fool’s joke was more of a blessing than a curse.