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Since it’s April Fool’s, I

4/1/09 — Since it’s April Fool’s, I thought it would be fun to offer up the one-and-only example in all 18 of my published books that I’ve written about this mischievous day of pranksterism. What follows is an excerpt from ATTACK OF THE MUTANT UNDERWEAR.

Sunday, April 1

           OK, here’s a riddle for you.  Picture this:  I’d been grounded in my room all day, on my birthday (which seemed about as mean as parents could get).  So when Mom called me to come down for dinner I wasn’t in the best of moods.  I walked into the dining room, and there was MC piling a mountain of brown sugar on top of . . . a waffle.           

“Waffles?” I said.  “For dinner?”  I love waffles.  They’re up there with chocolate chip cookies and pizza on my favorite foods list.

           “It’s not a waffle,” MC explained, “it’s a volcano.”  She poked her thumb into the summit of Mt. Sugar, then poured syrup in the crater.  “Look, it’s erupting!” she said as the syrup oozed down the side. 

           Of course I ignored her, because she’s my stupid little sister. But more importantly because at that very moment Mom was putting two fresh waffles on a plate for me.

           “Waffles?” I said again.  “For dinner?” 

           Mom smiled and said,  “It’s your birthday.  We thought you’d enjoy a special treat, especially after being grounded.  Would you like whipped cream on them?” 

           “Whipped cream?” I said as she spooned on a mound of the wonderful white stuff.  “For dinner?”

           “How about some strawberries, too?” Dad said.  He was walking out of the kitchen with a bowl of them in his hands.  He plopped a big spoonful into the whipped cream.

           “And of course maple syrup!” Mom said as she poured a river of the lovely stuff over everything. 

           I stared, bug-eyed.  They’d turned my regular old waffle (which I really like) into a Belgium waffle (which I really, REALLY like).  And for dinner!  This ranked above chocolate chip cookies and pizza on my favorite foods list!  Number one!            

           “Oh, and then there’s this,” Dad said, and laid a hundred dollar bill in front of me.  Yep, one hundred dollars, as in more money than I’d ever had in my entire life.  Wow!

           Then he added a hundred dollars more.

           “Happy birthday, Cody!” Mom and Dad both said, and gave me a double hug.

           So the riddle is this: What’s wrong with this picture?  Yes,  what’s wrong with it?

           Any ideas?

           C’mon, think, think, think!

           OK then, I’ll tell you.  What’s wrong with the picture was that the waffle was made of styrofoam.  And the “whipped cream” was actually shaving cream.  And those strawberries Dad was so generous with were made of plastic.  And that maple syrup was motor oil.  And those one hundred dollar bills were fake! 

           “April fools!” my family laughed and shouted.

           Good grief, they’d gotten me again.  It’s the curse of being born on April 1.

           “Not bad,” I admitted, “but no more tricks, OK?”

           “No more,” everybody said.  “We promise.”

           Right.  I could see them crossing their fingers behind their backs.  So it didn’t surprise me that after our dinner of real waffles, with real whipped cream and strawberries and syrup, Mom brought out cooked cauliflower (my least favorite food ever) then teased me that I had to eat it before I could have any of my birthday cake.            

When they finally brought the real cake to the table I was ready for anything: more shaving cream, plastic sherbet on the side.  Well, almost anything, except a birthday cake made to look like a kitty litter box.            

           That’s right, a kitty litter box, complete with crumbled white cookies to look like the litter, and tootsie rolls to look like . . . well, you get the idea.  The joking and pranks went on and on and on.  I finally gave up and got into it.  Funny thing, as soon as I did I felt better, and better, until I felt great.  We had a grape fight at the dinner table, catapulting them with spoons.  (MC started it.)  Outside MC and I glued a quarter to the sidewalk, then hid in the bushes and watched people try to pick it up.  (Our own little April Fools trick.) 

           But the best part was the present from Mom and Dad and my Grandpa Irving in Kentucky — a Littermaid Self-Cleaning Deluxe Kitty Litter Box!  Just like on the internet  They’d gone in together to give it to me.  “In the interest of world peace,” Dad said.

           So anyway, a day that started out looking uglier than ugly turned into a 10!


I hope your April Fool’s Day is a 10, also.

Really. No joke. I’m not kidding.