Paranoia makes it hard to trust people.

And it’s exhausting to live with that level of constant suspicion, wondering whether your colleagues are moving around your office supplies or that your family members have tampered with the shower head, your alarm clock and the insides of your shoes.

Friends will tell you to relax. (But are they your friends, really? Wasn’t it just yesterday that you suspected Frank of crank-calling you in the middle of the night and breathing heavily?)

Your boss will tell you that an hourly search of your cubicle’s perimeter — complete with a 200-point checklist and the sounding of an “all clear” air horn — is not a good use of your time. (But why’s he so determined to convince you to let your guard down? Is he scheming to fill your drawers with packing peanuts?)

But contrary to the opinions of the people who matter in your life, I’d encourage you to hang on to the suspicion, at least until Saturday morning.

For even the most trustworthy of acquaintances is prone to commit sinister acts against you this Friday. It’s April Fools’ Day, and everyone’s out to get you.

Keep an eye on the neighbor’s kids, the guy who restocks the vending machines, the dog. Don’t even turn your back on Grandma. She might be an elderly safehouse of love the rest of the year, but if she’s anything like my grandmother, she can’t resist the sound of a fart machine.

Historians may forever argue over the origin of April Fools’ Day (some say 16th-century changes to the calendar, others point to Roman mythology, others to references in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales,” written around 1392).

But whatever its history, the April Fools’ Day present is simple: It’s a day to mess with people.

It’s a day to tinfoil-wrap a colleague’s desk, or at the very least glue her phone receiver to its cradle and start transferring calls her way. It’s a day to change the ringtone on your husband’s phone to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and send a singing telegram to your best pal’s house congratulating him on his near-recovery from that embarrassing rash.

Or you could leave behind such childish things. And by that I mean: think bigger.

For example: On April 1, 1957, BBC news program “Panorama” ran a story about the year’s bountiful spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland, noting how the milder winter had caused flowers and crops to bloom up to two weeks early in the region.

Video footage showed trees draped in spaghetti and farm workers carefully harvesting the long strands of pasta. No doubt plenty of viewers got the joke, but plenty of others reportedly called in to inquire how they might grow their own spaghetti tree.

On April 1, 1974, black smoke billowed from the mouth of Alaska’s Mount Edgecumbe. Although the volcano had been dormant, residents of nearby Sitka were certain it had awakened from its long slumber and was erupting. Turns out, local prankster Porky Bickar (no kidding) had actually flown 100 old tires into the volcano’s crater top and lit them on fire.

And in 1972, on March 31, zoologists from Yorkshire’s Flamingo Park Zoo discovered a strange animal carcass floating in Loch Ness while searching for the infamous “monster.” Doing what any good researchers would, they put the mysterious creature into the back of their van and drove away. Unfortunately, local police chased them down, since taking unidentified creatures out of Loch Ness is forbidden.

Come to find out, their colleague, education officer John Shields, had just punked the group. The corpse was no Loch Ness Monster — it was a bull elephant seal that had died a week earlier. Shields took the liberty of shaving its whiskers and stuffing its cheeks with stones before tossing it into the loch as a joke on his zoologist peers.

History is rife with grandiose gags. April Fools’ Day celebrants who choose to be on the offensive shouldn’t be limited by office-supply hijinks.

On the other hand, if there’s a bull elephant seal cadaver involved, you have to wonder if you’ve gone too far.

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at: [email protected]