I got married on April Fool’s Day, but not to make some kind of point, ironic or otherwise. It was just one of the Saturdays on the calendar when my fiancée Cynthia and I were trying to schedule our wedding.
It would be, I initially thought, inconvenient that our anniversary would forever hold another, not necessarily complementary, meaning. But, perhaps for that very reason, other soon-to-be-wed couples avoided the day and made it easier for us to book a church and reception hall.
But if you thought it an odd choice to wed on the corniest day of the year, we didn’t want to hear it. Any caterer or flower seller who made an “Are you serious?” face was off the list. The decision to marry on April Fool’s Day became a rallying point for us, a trivial thing that took on greater meaning the more we had to defend it.
From there it was a short mental skip to embracing April 1 as an excellent day for playing practical jokes on one’s spouse. As a wedding gift, I gave Cynthia a book on housekeeping. “Happy April Fool’s,” it said inside. And then I gave her a much less memorable piece of jewelry to cover my bases.
Before this I was never much for April Fool’s jokes. I am not the kind of person who can look you in the eye and announce a total fabrication like, “Oh, your uncle with the bad breath and the drinking problem called. He’s left his vulgar wife, but I told him he could stay with us while he figures things out.”
I need a lie to have some context, maybe a moving part or two.
As it happens, my wife is dubious about tattoos, especially on men over 30. Why? Oh, you know: the vanity, the ginned-up sexuality, the false advertisement of hidden depths. I can’t blame her, but my own feeling on this is not as strong. I have even wondered once or twice about the great question of tattoos: how to find the words or imagery that, once emblazoned on your skin, will not seem ridiculous in time. Which gave me an idea.
Another thing you need to know is my wife loves the movie Working Girl starring Melanie Griffith. It’s a movie with many great lines, and among Cynthia’s favorites is “I have a head for business and a body for sin.”
I began by researching fonts. Then I called tattoo shops to see if they had any advice on how to fake a tattoo. Strangely, they did not seem interested in helping me make fun of their work.
On the Internet, I found a henna tattoo artist in Annapolis who said she could make a tattoo that looked pretty close to the real thing, but traveling there and back would have to be done in advance and probably require just the kind of lie I have trouble telling. What I needed was to get the tattoo on April Fool’s Day and come home with it.
Fortunately, I found another henna tattoo artist closer by who could meet me in the afternoon. On the way I bought a bandage and medical tape.
Now, it is typical for me to shower the moment I get home, because I commute by bicycle and always arrive sweaty. When I was dressed, in jeans and a sleeveless shirt, I called to my wife.
She came into our bedroom and was taken aback by the bandage on my arm. “Don’t be nervous,” I said, “I have something I want to show you. For this, our anniversary, I was looking for a new way to express my love.”
As I peeled off the medical tape, I could see Cynthia was becoming almost physically ill at the thought of what was about to happen. She turned her eyes to the wall.
“It’s not quite finished,” I said, “but I am so proud of the words. It says, ‘Body 4 Cyn’—get it?”
“Really?” she asked as she peeked back at me, her voice squeaking with fear. I sat down next to her on the bed and continued to remove the bandage, explaining that what she was about to see was only an outline. “Tomorrow,” I continued, “I am going back to have the color filled in.”
She looked at my reddened arm and her face said it all: She was aghast.
Then, after a few more painful seconds, I let her off the hook: “April Fool’s, babe. It’s a fake.”
Folding over with nervous relief, she could hardly speak. I began to worry that she was not going to forgive me. But after a couple minutes she demanded a closer look at my arm, saying she couldn’t believe she had fallen for this or that I had gone this far and, hey, what is this stuff on your arm anyway?