A Foolishness Advisor’s Advice for April Fool’s Day

April 1, 2010

No man [or woman] is so foolish but s/he may sometimes give another good counsel . . .
• Hunter S.Thompson

We all have many titles in our lives. We are born to be someone’s child or sister or brother or niece or nephew or grandchild. We become other things by virtue of our talents and our interests—quarterback, writer, barista, artist, shortstop, runner, poet, cook, partner, parent, teacher, student—the list of our titles is endless, some formal and societally-recognized, and others we adopt to describe ourselves. I am, for example, a funsultant, an inefficiency expert, and an aesthetic recycler (our home is decorated with the detritus of other lives).

People are often passionate about titles. I was asked to leave the National Organization for Women in its early years when, as a member of the local group who was also women’s editor of a newspaper, I refused to use only the honorific Ms. to refer to women in articles I was writing or editing or to advocate for its sole use in the newspaper.

It was a contentious meeting, and there were other reasons I was asked to leave the group, including my assertion that the traditional role of breadwinner might be just as onerous to some men as the role of homemaker was to some women, but it was my Ms. refusal that really did it. I believed then that people should be able to choose the honorific they preferred. I still do. And I still resent women’s choices—Ms., Mrs., and Miss—that situate them in relation to men while Mr. is neutral.

But once again, I digress. Titles. And what does any of this have to do with April Fool’s Day and advice anyway? I have another title. I am my mother’s foolishness advisor. I know because she told me so as she was trying to decide what kind of new car to buy about seven years ago. She had never had a new-to-her car, only used vehicles that usually got her and her five children where they needed to go but were sometimes notoriously unreliable. I remember a white Oldsmobile that might decide to quit for no reason. When I drove it on the freeway, I always stayed in the right hand lane so I could coast to a stop and wait for it to decide to start again.

My mother had been looking at sensible cars, Volvos and the like, but what she really wanted was a Jaguar. I’m not sure why, just that it represented the ultimate in luxury for her—a car she could baby and drive as long as she needed to have a car. And that’s when she called me, asking me, as her official F.A., if she was being foolish to hold out for her dream. Interestingly, the cost was about the same among her choices, but F.A.s don’t deal in practicalities. I told her if it were me, I’d get the car I wanted. She did and she’s still enjoying it every day.

Even incredibly busy students need a bit of foolishness.

The follies which a man [or woman] regrets most in his [or her] life are those which /he didn’t commit when s/he had the opportunity.
• Helen Rowland

What would you like for your foolishness advisor to advise you to do or to get or to be or . . . . . ?

When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.
• Cynthia Heimel

P.S. I haven’t forgotten the D.O. L.I.F.E., but I couldn’t resist the lure of April Fool’s Day!


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