Funk’s little red Corolla—an April Fool’s Day story.

In 1978, when Funk and I moved from West Virginia to Nashville, we traded-in his truck for a two-door Toyota Corolla.

We were a one-car household until our second born came along in 1989, at which time we purchased a van for me and the kids (eww!) and the ’78 Corolla became Funk’s car. He folded his 6’8” frame into that Toyota for 19 years, constantly covering holes in the floorboard with flattened coffee cans in its later years. When the holes grew so large that it posed a safety hazard, I decided to surprise him with a new car for his 48th birthday that October.

The kids and I, in addition to the two kids we took in, drove 30 miles to the showroom that had given me the best deal over the phone for a 1996 Toyota Corolla. The minute I pulled up, I could see why they offered me such a great price. They couldn’t move the car off the lot, not with it being a weird-ass maroon-red. I hated the color, but I wasn’t willing to pay a thousand more for the white one sitting next to it, so I drove the maroon 5-on-the-floor-stick-shift off the lot, with the salesman following me home in my van, and the dealer following in another car behind him.

It had been years since I’d driven a stick, and I was really getting into it again. As I was downshifting to exit the highway, I was lost in thought at how well the car hugged the turn, at which time my son started screaming from the back seat, “She doesn’t know how to drive a stick; we’re all gonna die!”

Of course, this only egged me on. I’d show him what a mother could do, so I tore up the road like an Indie driver the rest of the way home.

Saying goodbye to the salesman, the kids and I hid the new car up the street. As usual, my husband got home from city hall at 5:30 on the dot, and it was all the kids and I could do to get through the special birthday dinner I’d prepared so we could give their father his big surprise.

When it was time, I handed Funk a tiny box that I’d wrapped in birthday paper. Inside was a note that sent him throughout the house looking for the next clue in his treasure hunt. Finally, he came to the note that directed him up the street to where we’d hidden his new car.

He could hardly believe his eyes.

It was as if he were eleven years old, being given his cherished Christmas motorbike all over again. As much as Funk can get excited, he was in-love with that new car. The following year, on April Fool’s day—my favorite holiday of the year! —I pranked him by hiding the Corolla around the block.

Once we became a two-vehicle household, Funk always drove our natural born kids to school on the east side of town, and I drove the two we’d taken in to the south side. On that fated morning, as usual, we all walked out the door together. Seeing his beloved new car missing from the curb, Funk went crazy, running up and down the street looking for the car, frothing at the mouth, before finally shrieking to the world, “Somebody stole my car! Who the hell took my car?!” Which is when the kids and I broke down in gales of laughter. I could barely catch my breath to tell him where his car was parked.

Funk wasn’t amused.

With spit flying everywhere, Funk got into his “stolen” car with a scowl and drove our natural-born to school. I don’t know what went down in his car, but I know in mine, we laughed ourselves silly the entire way to their school. I could barely see the road for the tears streaming down my face, but unlike my other son, these two couldn’t care less how I drove.

Here’s to you! if you also love giving birthday surprises AND April Fool’s Day as much as I do.

The Photo: The Big Guy in his natural state, scowling at the world, and the same guy in front of his little red Corolla.