Monday, April 1, 2013

Benjamin Franklin: American Prankster

    Today is April 1st... also known as April Fool’s Day.

    Now, I’m a bit of a troublemaker. In fact, one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten was from a professor who described me as someone who worked well within the spirit of the law, not necessarily the letter. Greatest compliment I’ve ever received. I also may have played the occasional prank from time to time. After all, a good pranking helps lighten the mood, when done correctly.

    The history of April Fool’s Day is shrouded in mystery. Many believed it was first started during caveman times when one caveman would cover another one in antelope blood then leave him out in the saber-tooth tiger fields. Oh, the laughs they must’ve had.

    That being said, many people expect me to do something today because I am that troublemaker, and because I do so enjoy lightening the mood. But no. I will not stoop to pulling any pranks today. It’s April Fool’s Day! Everyone is playing a prank today, some of them bad. In fact, most of them bad. Good pranks take time. They take finesse. They take planning and execution. For every The Office related putting office supplies in Jello and covering a desk with post it notes, there’s a good one like slowly dismantling someone’s cubical every night and making it half an inch smaller.

    However, the greatest practical joke of all time was played by perhaps one of the greatest practical jokers of all time: Benjamin Franklin. That’s right. The Benjamin Franklin who ran newspapers, wanted us all to worship the turkey, and negotiated peace that made this country what it is. But I love this story, and I had to share it with all of you.

    So, back in the day Benjamin Franklin had an Almanac. This helped predict the weather, helped farmers decide when to plant crops... and had a rival. The rival Almanac writer was named Titan Leeds, because back then Almanacs were the hotness and warranted rivalries.

    One day, Benjamin Franklin for reasons unknown, maybe because he was drunk or stoned off his ass, decided that he wanted to up ante in the rivalry, and predicted that on a specific day, Titan Leeds was going to die. Now, I’m sure at this point Titan Leeds read the almanac, had a good laugh, and went about his business. I’m sure he had a bigger laugh when that day passed, and obviously Titan Leeds didn’t die. (Apparently Benjamin Franklin wasn’t willing to kill for a joke.) So, what do you think happened next? Do you think Ben

Printed a retraction?
Let it go, and tired to make better product?
Convinced everyone that Titan Leeds did die, and that the person claiming to be Titan Leeds was an imposter?

This is Benjamin Freakin’ Franklin, who once tied a key to a kite to prove a point. The answer is obviously C.

That’s right, Benjamin Franklin convinced everyone that Titan Leeds died. This didn’t sit well with the real Titan Leeds, who was very much alive, and very much losing readers who now believed that he wasn’t the real Titan Leeds, because Benjamin Franklin was an elder statesman that everyone needed to listen to.

It gets better. Once Titan Leeds died, almost penniless, several years later, do you think Benjamin Franklin  came clean? Nope. Ol’ Benny then thanked the imposter for finally giving up on the charade and allowing everyone to live happily ever after. Because Benjamin Franklin was the man.

The moral of the story is this: Don’t mess with Benjamin Franklin.

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