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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Fool me once…


I was at work when Alex, my middle daughter, called. I knew immediately something was wrong from the way she said, “Daddy.”

Hesitantly, but stoically she said, “I screwed up.” She went on to say she’d been arrested for underage drinking the night before. Empathy turned to anger. I chastised her for being so irresponsible. I was aware of the Saluki reputation for partying, but that didn’t ease the disappointment. She remained silent throughout my harangue. Then the interrogation started: What was the Officer’s name and agency? Did you spend the night in jail? Court date? She provided only sketchy details which I attributed to her intoxicated state during the pinch. I abruptly terminated the conversation and slammed down the phone.

I next called my wife. She was madder than me. She screamed that Alex was “out of control in SIU!” I hung up and went into full blown “Pablo-Crises-Mode.” I dialed up a detective friend of mine in Carbondale. I asked him to track down the arrest report. I inquired about the local prosecutor’s reputation. Then I called a friend and Naperville lawyer to see if he had an attorney referral for me down south. I checked my bank account balance.

My blood pressure was boiling and my head was exploding, but Alex was still my daughter. I had to help her from potential long-term career damage. Yes, she used bad judgment, but as her Dad, I still had to protect her. Besides, this was nothing compared to what I’d put my parents through!

Then my wife called. Alex had confessed to her that she was pregnant. WHAT!? The day was spiraling out of control. My honor student and Varsity swimmer had spent a night in the hoosegow, and now faced an uncertain future as a young, single mother. I hung up, numb, staring blankly at the wall.

The phone rang again. It was Alex. I answered icily, “What?”

In a barely audible whisper, she said, “April Fools’!”

And just like that 10,000 pounds were lifted off my shoulders. I smiled, then chuckled. The belly laughter followed. She started in tentatively, but soon we were both cracking up hysterically. Me from the relief that it was a prank; her from realizing I wasn’t really mad.

When the smoke settled I told her there would be payback. Someday.

For a decade now, she has expected an April Fools’ joke on her. Keep looking over your shoulder Alex… someday.

P. Araya
P. Araya
Pablo Araya grew up in Naperville and enjoys writing about his experiences in the Navy, the FBI and growing up in the best town around. Contact Pablo at boblow9913@gmail.com.