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A Day to Honor the Fool

April 1, 2016
By John Wharff
 
In the spirit of April Fool's Day, I'd like to pay tribute to the occupation of Fool. I know it's rare these days to get a resume of a professional fool, but in the days of old, "The Fool" played a vital role in keeping spirits high. He would break up the drudgery and monotony of day to day work and it probably took some really deep thinking. In fact, if my memory serves me right, wasn't it a "jester who sang for the king and queen in a coat he borrowed from James Dean in a voice that came from you and me.” You must admit that's pretty creative for a fool but, then again, it was his job.
 
I wonder what a job like that paid, or did it really matter? As history tells us the fool either did a good job making the king laugh, or it was off to the gallows and off with his head. Forget the pay scale, how about a punch line! After all, a fool and his money would soon part anyway. So it wasn't about the money, it was about the laughter. That tried and true human equalizer that stands the test of time. Laughter... that universal feel-good emotion that draws people together.
 
"You old fool" is a phrase usually reserved as an affectionate remark from a little old lady directed at her husband, or vice versa. The title of fool does have some endearing qualities. There is wit, humor and good-hearted fun. We don't celebrate April "Smart Guy" day do we? Heck no, this is a day reserved for bobble-head dolls, clown noses, squirting flowers and that big yellow smiley face that says, "Have a Nice Day."
 
The fool offers us something that cost nothing, but creates so much. Think about that one-liner or expression that offers no earthly value until it's given away. That belly laugh and sometimes a snort that enriches those who receive it without impoverishing the fool who gives it away. Maybe it's simply a random quip that happens spontaneously, but could be remembered forever. I proclaim that there are none so rich that they can do without laughter, and none so poor that don't benefit from it. The message of the fool transcends from generation to generation and there's always enough to go around.
 
When Robin Williams died last year I couldn’t help but smile about  a man who perfectly played the fool. Always a laugh, a joke, a booming voice that made people smile. I'm sure you have your favorite fool, because there are plenty around. They're out there in the community. They're in your favorite restaurant, they sell you clothes and candles, antiques and jewelry. It's one of those special parts about living in Marietta and one of those special parts about living. Just mix a smile with a bargain, a laugh with a story and you have the old fools network. And since the gallows went out with the king and queen, you'd be a fool not to partake in the fun.
 
In closing, I'll share my favorite tale of a quick-witted fool. One particularly clever fool humored the king for years, but, as all good things come to an end, the laughter stopped and the king said, "I'm sorry my friend your time has come. But, since you've been such a loyal servant 'lo so many years, I will let you choose the way you wish to die." After careful consideration the fool replied, "I have made my decision, King, and if it's all the same to you I think I'll die... of old age." and the king laughed.
 
Hail to the fool, a true slice of American Pie.
 
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