Though it’s hard to trace the origin of April Fool’s Day, it’s a safe bet it’s not going to go away any time soon. I’d bet my last piece of eight it’s been around for as long as pirates, but I know I’d lose. Just look at the old Greek saying: “When God created the sea, he created pirates.” Now that’s longevity for you.
Did you ever wonder though what it would be like to play an April Fool’s Day prank on a pirate? I suspect it wouldn’t be a very bright idea. And that’s something I would bet my last piece of eight on.
Imagine the surprise pirates might have when they dig for a treasure chest under the hot Caribbean sun, and you finally shout as sweat drips from their faces and necks onto their broad shoulders, “April Fools!” Imagine how many pieces thirty angry pirates can cut you into.
Or imagine some polliwog bringing a jar of termites aboard ship and letting them run up and down a shipmate’s wooden leg as he awakens to you shouting “April Fool!” I bet that prankster would feel like a bigger fool after he’s stripped and tarred with molasses then marooned on a flea-infested island.
It’s not that pirates didn’t have a sense of humor. They often put on little skits to while away their time. Some of these referred to dancing the hempen jig. For the uninitiated, that’s pirate lingo for hanging at the end of a rope. They all chuckled at the prospect, knowing full well that if they stayed in the business long enough, that’s exactly how they were going to end their days.
And I pity the fool who would dare spike a shipmate’s rum with salt water. “April Fool!” he shouts as the victim spits out what was once a perfectly good dram of rum. I bet a day lashed to the main mast without a drop to drink might show the scalawag the error of his ways.
Pirates were rarely a sophisticated lot so they weren’t beyond crude jokes, but I just can’t imagine the saltiest of them laughing off a tack on their seat after a hard day of pillaging and plundering. “You think that’s funny?” the victim snorts? “No, this is funny!” he fumes as he pulls his cutlass from his scabbard and shows the prankster the true meaning of being half-assed. Continue reading →