Mistress of the Mix: The Joker

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He’s a joker, my husband.

Occasionally, when I mention to friends that I married my junior high school boyfriend, I’ve been told that I might want to rephrase it differently (as in: he’s not actually in junior high, I married the man who previously was my boyfriend decades ago, back when we were in junior high). But actually, the phrase fits. Because even though he’s 53, he’s still 15. Everyone who knows him knows what I mean.

Especially that guy on the beach on Maui, and I’ll get to him in a moment.

During the decade or so that Eddie and I have been together, he has pulled so many ridiculous pranks, that I pretty much never take him seriously about anything until I’ve had ample time to quiz him enough to determine whether he’s joking or for reals. I have described Eddie as a challenging, semi-reformed troublemaker with a rebellious streak, a sparkle in his eye and a wicked grin. He’s a prankster who doesn’t know when to stop, but fortunately he likes me.Eddie likes to sneak up to his sister’s house and scare her by tapping on the window. He likes to sneak into my office while I’m in the bathroom, and hide in the kitchen to jump out at me, Cato style. Just keeping me vigilant, he says.

Eddie sees an opportunity to joke around, he takes it. He doesn’t have to wait for April Fool’s Day. It’s an everyday thing with Eddie. He’s called my dad and pretended to be a publisher interested in re-printing one of his books. Multiple times he’s called people up pretending to be a representative of the IRS.Eddie, Eddie, Eddie. It’s funny, until it isn’t.

And that guy on the beach back in 2012, he knows what I’m talking about.My sister and her family, they get it. We were camping along the Rogue River a few summers ago, in this sweet spot Eddie had found, perfect for fly fishing, which my brother in law Brett loves. He’s in it for the joy of casting, not to necessarily catch an actual fish. But you know that secretly he would have loved to have got one on the hook. No such luck that day for Brett. But Eddie really reeled ’em in.

Brother-in-law Brett fly fishing on the Rogue that day.

Brett had been standing out in the river for hours in hip waders, when Eddie jumped in upriver, swam across to the other side, and walked out onto a downed log hanging over the water. He contemplated the scene for a moment, and then spied something beneath the ripples.

“Hey!” he yelled, getting all our attention. “There’s a huge trout over here!” He held his arms out to show us just how long it was, and then he dove in, coming up twenty seconds later, victorious. He was holding the fish. In his hands. I shit you not. This really happened. Somehow Eddie had managed to catch a sizeable fish with his bare hands.

Brett’s mouth hung open. My sister started to hoot & holler, mightily impressed, and yelling, “You’re the man, bro! You’re the man!” My niece Lena was clapping and laughing. But me? I pursed my lips, squinted my eyes, and folded my arms across my chest. You know the look. I wasn’t buying it.

I let the scene play out for a little bit,  while Eddie held the fish up with one hand and beat on his chest with the other and made all kinds of manly animal sounds, but I know my husband. Something smelled…fishy.

“Naaaah,” I said to the girls. “Uh-uh. There’s no way.” And then I yelled to Eddie, “You lie! That fish is already dead!”

And of course it was.

But I give him an A for effort. Scratch that. I give him an A+ for even noticing a dead fish on the river bottom and coming up with that scenario on the spot. If I hadn’t been there, he could’ve kept them on the hook for a long, long time.

Being a prankster is such a part of Eddie’s personality that sometimes – he claims – he’s pranking people without even intending to. Which brings me to that old guy on the beach in Hawaii.

Eddie coaxing Sophia into trying the rope swing on Maui.

It was our first real vacation together as a family, and we spent it in Hawaii. We took the kids out of school for a week, and flew to Maui. We drove up the road to Hana and discovered a swimming hole with a rope swing among the waterfalls. We hung out with wild roosters while boogie boarding at Honoloa Bay. We got up close and personal with some giant sea turtles, ate pizza in Paia and went to Cheeseburger in Paradise in Lahaina. We learned the hard way that one really should wear a shirt when learning how to surf, and lost our snorkeling gear when it fell off the aforementioned surf board and sank to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. We played tennis, we read books, we hiked and put flowers in our hair, and relaxed on the beach.

It’s just that some of us relax a little differently than others.

So there we were, on Kaanapali Beach. Sophia and Jesse were soaking up rays on the sand. I was trying not to soak up too many rays, wearing a big floppy hat and getting lost in a Stephen King novel. Meanwhile, we ignored Eddie, who was relaxing in his usual beach style. His usual prankster-on-the-beach style. And I’m going to show you a photo of what that looks like. But before I do, I want to tell you about the reaction of the person sitting nearest us on the beach.

There was a senior couple lounging nearby in folding beach chairs, their sandals kicked off. They were, like me, engrossed in their reading material. So I didn’t notice right away when the man looked up from his book and saw Eddie. He made an exclamation along the lines of “Oh my God, what the…” and stood up. I looked up, thinking there were humpback whales. Then the man took off running, and his wife looked shocked. The elderly man was running towards the water, towards Eddie, who was still relaxing. By my account, he was very, very relaxed. But the older gentleman no doubt thought my husband was very, very dead.

This is how Eddie claims to relax.

But he was just face down, floating in the surf, holding his breath for as long as he can, because that’s Eddie.

I looked over at his wife, who was still looking on in horror, and started to push myself up off the sand so that I could at least try to seem concerned about the whole incident. I probably said, “I’m sorry…my husband.” Daughter Sophia, who was in the process of burying herself completely with sand, looked a little nervous. Stepson Jesse opened one eye, saw what was about to go down, and shook his head a little bit before closing his eye again, pretending not to be aware of the situation. Oh Daaaaad.

The good samaritan made it to the water’s edge and valiantly high stepped it into the surf, ready to save a life, bless him. Then as he got close and reached out to turn over the drowned man, Eddie – who must have felt the vibration of pounding feet on the sand – whipped his head up out of the water. Startled, the man almost lost his balance as he jumped back, yelping. That poor guy. I thought he was going to faint. Or worse. I guess somebody really could have died on the beach that day.A moment later surprise turned to anger when he realized he hadn’t encountered a drowning man, he’d just encountered a numbskull who had no idea what his brand of ‘relaxing’ might appear like to the rest of the world (or did he?). The gentleman seemed upset (and I think a little embarrassed), as he turned around, trudged back to his wife, grabbed his book, Birkenstocks and folding chair, and left the beach completely.

My friends from high school could fill the comments section right now with some of the crazy stunts I’ve pulled in the past, like the time I called up a friend who was babysitting and pretended to be a poll taker who had some deeply personal questions to ask. Or the time I created a wanted poster for one of my friends out of a bad elementary school photo and posted it throughout her neighborhood. And how about that time I put my friend’s house, furnishings, car and golf clubs up for sale in a classified ad as an April Fool’s Day gag? People were leaving messages on her answering machine for a week. That was a good one; it still gives me a good chuckle twenty years later.I guess what I’m getting at is that we’re perfect for each other, my joker and I.

Hope you enjoy today’s Joker Playlist, and if you’re feeling funny, share your own best April Fool’s jokes in the comments section below. But it might be best if you don’t play dead on the beach. You might give someone a heart attack.

Valerie Ing
Valerie Ing has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for 14 years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She and her husband are parents to a couple of college students and a pair of West Highland Terriers, and Valerie can’t imagine life without them or music. The Mistress of the Mix wakes up every day with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
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6 Responses

  1. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    Fools Rush In . . . Sinatra or Ella or Tony . . . . or any one of a dozen other great singers.
    Val . . . I’m so glad you keep an eye on the calendar. I had TOTALLY forgotten the pertainence ( not to be confused with importance) of the day!!

    • Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

      What? I would’ve never have forgotten Fools Rush In! Its a total no-brainer! It’s right there, after Why Do Fools Fall In Love?

      April Fools!

      I mean, it is there NOW, but only because you totally caught one that should’ve been there all along, and wasn’t. But now it is – my favorite version of them all, from Dion. And I threw on Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” afterwards…because, you know. Good catch AJ!

      • Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

        Oh, but the best part is your turning it into an April Fools prank . . . and it worked for a second or two, too!!

  2. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    I loved this, Val.

    After Rhonda and I got married following a nineteen year breakup, she one day said, “In high school, you were always so serious and thoughtful. What happened?”

  3. Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

    I think I’ve already shared my best April Fool’s prank. Suffice (this time) to say my boss at the time was not amused. Others were, but not him.

    Not really April 1 related, but years ago I wrote a series of op-eds for the RS under the nom de plume “Steve Rushmore.” My alter ego Mr. Rushmore was a parody of local right-wing kooks. One of the more amusing aspects of the ruse was that the majority of the local real right-wing kooks couldn’t tell it was a parody.

    The paper’s policy at the time was to print op-eds under real names only, but the confirmation process wasn’t hard to game. (Or maybe the Opinion Page editor was on to me all along but wanted to run them anyway.)

    At any rate, someone eventually ratted me out to the paper’s head honcho. I still remember the phone call from an extremely irate Tom King, WAY out of proportion to the crime. I came away from that encounter thinking, “Jesus, I wouldn’t wanna work for that red-assed rage-a-holic.”

    To be fair, I don’t know if that was reflective of his core personality, or if it was just a bad day.

  4. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Great play list Val! Don’t forget “Fool such I”. It’s been covered by many people. I love this song!