Then there was the time my mother suddenly declared, in the middle of a family dinner, that she didn't feel well. My father, brother, and I watched in horror as she got up from the table, ran to a corner of the room, bent over in front of the Picasso 20)urn, and made horrible 21)retching noises. When my adoring 22)hypochondriac of a father saw the pile of 23)vomit on the floor, he almost fainted. “Plastic!” my mother exclaimed, picking up the ugly thing. But dinner was wrecked.
Rule: Always know your audience.
24)Fast-forward to the next generation of family life. Elsewhere on this site, you may hear from my grown-up kids, Rose and Albert, about our 25)patented version of the prank: the narf. I don't quite know how the word or the concept got introduced into our world when the kids were small. Maybe it's an 26)acronym for Not A Real Fact.
现在快进到我家庭生活中的下一代吧。你也许在别的什么地方听到我那两个成年的孩子，罗丝和艾伯特，说起过我们的“专利”恶作剧“narf”。其实我也不清楚这个词或者概念是怎么在孩子们还小的时候就出现在我们的生活中的。这个词是“Not A Real Fact”（意为“是假的”）这个词组的缩写。
Our narf is a spoken prank. It's an attempt to get another family member to believe, if only for a second, a patent bit of nonsense that should defy27)credulity in even a half-awake, distracted person who is, say, busily making 28)brownies while writing a novel and playing 29)backgammon.
“There'a a kangaroo in the bathroom.”
“I've been 30)short-listed for the Nobel!”
Rose and Albert are in their 20s now, and we still occasionally narf one another, or try to. How has narfing endured all these years when so much else has fallen away? I 31)give credit to its having rules and 32)protocols, like any meaningful game. Here is 33)anarchy with etiquette—satisfying two sides of the 34)polyhedron soul. For instance, narfing is nearly 35)cruelty-free. It's not a narf to tell someone who loves you that you've been diagnosed with36)leprosy. If your narf 37)misfires, and someone's 38)bullshit detector lights up, you immediately have to confess. To say “no narf” when it is a narf is a violation of the deepest order.
罗丝和艾伯特如今都已20多岁了，但是我们还是会偶尔玩一下“narf”，倒不是每次都成功。当那么多种恶作剧都慢慢地被大家玩腻了时，“narf”这个恶作剧为何还能如此经久不衰呢？我觉得这可能归功于这个恶作剧具备的规则和礼节（这个说法有点怪怪的），就跟任何有意义的游戏一样。有规矩的混乱，可以满足人们精神上的双面需要。举个例子，“narf”恶作剧几乎不会伤害到人，它不是那种跟爱你的人们说你被诊断出得了麻风病的谎话。而且，当你的“narf”把戏失败了， 对方开始有所警觉时，那你就要立刻坦白承认。如果以“no narf（是真的）”来掩饰自己的胡言乱语，那你就严重违规了。
Back to the natal family. For the last forty years or so, my younger brother and I have been so 39)poised to be pranked by the other on April first, a telephone call on the day would go like this.
“Hi. I was walking down—”
With the coming of caller ID, neither of us could even say “Hi” before being doubted by the other. So one recent year my brother April Fooled me the night before, and then claimed it was okay because we're Jewish and the holiday had started at sundown.