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In praise of a national silliness day

"Hey, don't panic now," I said to a friend yesterday. We were coming out of the library and I had on my deadpan serious face. "But there's a strange looking winged thing crawling into your hair." Her hand went up to her head like a shot, and I yelled "April Fool!" Later on, I couldn't tell what hurt more - my sides from the non-stop laughing we did, or my arm from where she justifiably socked me.

Silly, isn't it? Maybe so. But I've always had a soft spot in my heart for April Fool's Day. I'd even go so far as to say I wish Congress would make it a national holiday. Give everyone the day off. A day to slow down, lighten up and be carefree. A day to forget the pressures of being who we are, or who we want to be. A day to get outdoors and just be silly.

I think there's too much seriousness around. People have forgotten how good it feels to let go and laugh. A National Silliness Day would be the perfect anecdote. I believe it could alleviate tons of built-up stress and, at the same time, help us put things in perspective. I think it could help us lighten up. After all, it's hard to be angry or violent when you're laughing

I also think we rush too much. People (and I'm the worst offender) are constantly driving themselves on, to speed themselves up, to burn themselves out. The sad part is we can't even enjoy what we get in return because we're too busy setting up what comes next. Our faces are in our phones because we don't want to miss anything. (Meantime, we're not mindful of the here and now.) A National Silliness Day could help us put the brakes on. Allow us time to look closer at where we think we're going in such a flash and what we really should pay more attention to.

My perfect April Fool's would be a whimsical day-long celebration. And anyone who didn't join in would have to pay double taxes. For starters, this would be a no-device day. Anyone caught cheating would have to eat 25 worms.

As for dress, it would CBC: comfortable, baggy clothes. And there'd be no jewelry or designer labels allowed. This way, no one need worry about how they looked - whether they were fat or thin, in style or out. Women would not wear makeup (though funny face paint and clown noses would be okay), and men would not have to shave. So everyone, no matter who he or she was, bank president or bank clerk, would look the same: silly.

On my National Silliness Day, no one would tell who they really were and what they really did. Instead, each person would pretend he worked at a job the very opposite of her own. One day a year, then, we'd all see how it feels to walk in our neighbor's shoes.

As for eating, my imaginary April Fool's Day would take the cake. Every town would have a huge, free, open-air fair, with tables covered with crusty pizzas, hot dogs with the works, and home-made breads - not to mention ice cream with fudge sauce and sprinkles. There would be no dieting because everything fattening wouldn't be. And there'd be plenty of food for all. So no one would go hungry.

People would be encouraged to sing and dance if they felt so inclined. And if they couldn't hold a tune or had two left feet, even better. If a person always had a yen to play the tuba, or walk on stilts, this would be her day to start. Anyone feeling the urge to ride a unicycle could give it a go, too. Since no one would take anything seriously, we could all give things a try we have always held secretly in our hearts to do. We could get a chance to be kids again.

My fantasy April Fool's would help us get rid of all those preconceived notions about people we all carry around with us. What's more, since we'd all be silly, there would be no hatred or fighting. And if anyone should get caught making a fuss, he'd get a pie in his face, either chocolate mousse or banana cream.

At the close of my fictitious Fools' Day, there'd be a contest. To win, a person would need to explain how being silly one entire day would affect the other 364. Since no one's ideas would be any better than anyone else's, everyone would be a winner. The prize? Seeing how silly we can all sometimes be when we take ourselves so seriously.

- Allia Zobel Nolan

Allia Zobel Nolanhas written more than 150 adult and children's books. Her latest isLaugh Out Loud: 40 Women Humorists Celebrate Then and NowBefore We Forget, a collaboration with the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop.

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