Don’t Play The Fool

In 1969, The April Fools, a little-known film starring Jack Lemmon and Catherine Deneuve, was released.

What makes a fool?

It was a simple, light movie about two people, unhappy in their own marriages, who find joy in each other and decide to run away to Paris and start life over. They were considered fools because they had decided to do something completely irrational and totally self-serving.

They had always been stalwart in their devotion to their mates–reliable, prone to serve, and faithful–and now, in their thirties, they discovered that loyalty might not have been as rewarding as putting themselves first.

The movie poses the question, “Who is really the fool?” Those who indulge and take advantage or those who properly and politely hold back and become the doormat for other people, who willingly “use” the idle lives for their own gain?

Well …

The movie then shows how payback can be very tough sometimes and those who indulge themselves at the cost of trusting partners may find the lesson in comeuppance to be painful and lifelong. Again–who is the fool?

While most of the press ignored the film, the famed critic Rex Reed said the movie wasn’t much more than a “horrible mess.” As a result of his criticism, the film was subsequently a box-office disappointment. Reed’s credibility took a real hit, however, when he later appeared in Myra Breckinridge, so maybe people should throw caution to the wind and enjoy The April Fools on video or DVD–probably available at your local library.

Rex, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, review.”

Definitive Moments

So, where do you find yourself on this fine April day? Have you given the proper attention to your career, your personal life, and the things that make you happy?

I’ve sat at the knee of many an old-timer who waxed poetic about the past, and inevitably came to a point where the stories got sticky and the memories were suddenly clunky and glazed over. It was usually at that point some attempt was made to explain the stumbling blocks.

“That’s the year your mother got sick” or “Well, I lost my job that summer, and we had to sell the house.”

At some difficult point the “family quarterback” had to call an audible, change the play at the line of scrimmage, and make a tough choice. Those stories either end with a victory and some level of prosperity: “That’s what forced me into the shoe repair business, and we wound up opening three more stores after that,” or the opposite: “When we left New York, the family kind of fell apart, and we all went our own way.”

The universal application here is that tough choices sometimes have to be made whether we like them or not. Were we foolish or were we wise?

Lucky Or Cursed?

Similarly, the consequences of those changes can certainly be impacted by how hard we try and how badly we want it, but let’s be honest–some of it is simply the luck of the draw.

So the guy who gambles and figures that if people like disposable pens, they just might also buy disposable razors (a la Bic) could be a raving fool or a marketing genius depending on the response (which cannot be accurately predicted until the product and concept are actually tried).

On the other hand, if someone else develops an idea that doesn’t work, is he a fool or just unlucky? The concept that needs to be understood here is that since no one ever really knows beforehand what will work (i.e., the pet rock) or what won’t (i.e., the Edsel), the only real fool is the one who simply does not try, the one who is too afraid to fail, so he refuses to even give it a shot.

Choose Another Path

In the same vein then, if one’s life has been earnestly spent trying to make others happy and one finds that today one is not so happy, maybe it is time to begin to focus in a different direction–perhaps on oneself.

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