Monday, April 2, 2012

Same Same, But Different! Part 10: April Fools' Day

Bangkok, as seen on Google's April Fools' Day prank feature yesterday

Yesterday was April Fools' Day in the US and some other places, a day to play (hopefully) harmless pranks on people we know, and sometimes on those we don't know. My personal favorite was the "new" - and functional - Google Maps, downgraded to to look like an 8-bit video game, complete with twittering sounds. It was a hoot.

Throughout everyone's lives there have been a few twisted folks who invariably take the whole thing too far, somewhat like idiotic farang in tourist areas like Pattaya during Songkran who can't differentiate between joyous fun and dangerously vicious acts.  You know the type: the ones who'll make a needlessly nasty comment and then say "Oh, come on... you know I was just joking!"

My best childhood friend had a brother a few years younger than we were who's pranks I think of each year about this time.  Not grasping the concept of it only being harmless fun practiced on April 1st he went around for a day or two afterwards, knocking over your bicycle, squirting you with the garden hose and other such things, after which he'd grin innocently and say "I'm foolish!", meaning "April Fool," but he got that part wrong, too.

Several of us corrected him in short order, and he's been an avid fan of the actual day itself ever since.  In fact, I got an email from him yesterday with the body only containing two words:  "I'm foolish!", and it made me laugh yet again.  He's now a pit bull of an attorney for an international publishing company, so it's always nice to be reminded he's still a good friend!  In fact, he's the one who advised me to put "The Standard Legalese" in the right hand column of the blog.

More than 1/3 menthol and peppermint oil, formula 1 also contains a bit of menthyl salicylate

While April 1st isn't officially observed in Thailand their sense of playfulness is commonly (and often) seen there.  The Siang oil pictured above a just one example of many I've heard of.  I've myself been the recipient of many others, and if done without malice it's a sign you're cared about, so be gracious if you're included in a good-natured way.

The oil pictured above is a variation on the nasal inhalers you're bound to see many people stuffing into their noses.  It'll cost you between 15 and 20 baht in most any store in the Kingdom. The main use is to help clear the sinuses by dapping a tiny amount under your nostrils and inhaling the menthol, eucalyptus, clove, cinnamon, camphor or peppermint oil (whatever's in the particular formula) as you breathe. You may have encountered eucalyptus oil used in the steam room of a health club, and the intent is much the same.

The oil in these small bottles can also be used on mosquito bites and dabbed onto your temples if you have a headache, but that's not the point of the post today.  Today is about pranks, and this oil played a part in one that a friend related from his school days, some 40 years ago.

99% of you know almost every school requires a standard uniform, and because of the climate they usually include a short sleeved shirt and short pants for boys and a short (but modest) skirt for girls.  The prankster would take this oil and daub it onto the chair seat of their intended victim, and then watch them as class started.

As the oil was slowly absorbed into their skin - especially any area slightly more, shall we say, sensitive - it started to become uncomfortable, to the point that it often became impossible to not squirm around or actually get up off of the seat itself.  For the prankster getting the victim out of their seat was a double bonus, because not only did they get a point for making the victim have to get up and admit something embarrassing was wrong, but that oftentimes the teacher would reprimand them for disrupting the class, sometimes with a smack on the hands with a stick.

My friend dismissed this as something only the "naughty children" did in school, but the twinkle in his eye made me think he knew about it on more of a first-hand basis than he wanted to admit!

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