April Fools, 1993

This is a story about the best, and ONLY April Fools joke I ever played on someone.

Here’s a portrait of me, in high school (circa 1993):


Here’s a portrait of the boy I was madly in love with, and also  the victim  of my April Fools day prank.


Zack J. First caught my eye at the beginning of my sophomore year,  when he dashed across the top of a full lunch table, his black trench coat trailing him like a phantom. He was then promptly nabbed by an administrator and dragged to the principals office, kicking and screaming.


Someone so bold, so irreverent, and so expertly hair-teased  must be  worshiped and adored. I looked around the lunch  table, and saw about 10 other faces reflecting the same painful longing and bafflement as mine.  Some of those faces were  splattered with tater tot ketchup. None of us cared.

I didn’t even know his name at first!  For weeks, I just referred to him as “COOL GUY” in my journal, and carefully detailed every weird interaction I had with him my sophomore year.

“Was waiting for my mom to pick me up after school and COOL GUY sat down right next to me. Said nothing. Looked at me.  I DIED.”

“COOL GUY asked me what flavor of pizza do we have for lunch today? I almost couldn’t talk. Then I  said “Pepperoni.” AND DIED.”

“COOL GUY bumped into me at our pep assembly. Said ‘SORRY”  to me really loud. Not once. Not twice. Three times.  “It’s okay,” I said. I couldn’t think of anything else to say.  AND I DIED.”

Then, one glorious day, after dying approximately 7,000 times,  “COOL GUY” (who I knew by the end of the year, was named Zack J. ) approached me after school. It was the last day of my sophomore year.

“Hey,” he said, shaking my hand. “I’m Zack.”

“Hey, I know,” I said.

“Do you like Sonic Youth?”

“I totally love them,” I lied. (More like, I didn’t really know much about them)

“Cool. Here’s a tape for you to borrow.” He placed in my hand, a cassette tape of  Sonic Youth “Goo”  (To this day, one of my top 10 favorite albums.)

“I wrote my phone number inside.” He added.

And then he disappeared.

I listened to Sonic Youth “Goo”  about a thousand times that summer—until the tape began to warp and Thurston Moore started sounding like Johnny Cash on quaaludes.  After about 20 listens, I gathered the courage to actually call Zack J. This began a very bizarre, yet  intimate phone relationship that lasted all summer long, and into the following year.   Zack would call me nearly every day, usually late at night after he got off his shift at White Castle. He would toss back a few bottle of “quill” (Nyquil. His drug of choice.)  and then  confess to me things he swore he told nobody else.  Like, that he once burned down someone’s house. That he sometimes hallucinated there was an old man with long teeth standing near his bed, chattering at him to kill himself. That his dad was a drunk, and  beat on him, and his mom was crazy and disappeared months ago, leaving him to look after his younger mentally retarded brother.

“I just feel like I can trust you for some reason. You know?” He would hiccup and sigh. “You’re like…a really good listener.”

Did we ever date? No. Yes. Not technically. No!   Zack J.  was the first in a series  of charismatic, brooding outlaws that I tried and failed to date. During my Junior year, Zack J  and I had many classes together, and lunch. We whispered. We passed notes. We walked arm in arm through the hallways together. We shared cool ranch Doritos and the occasional vodka spiked Gatorade for breakfast in painting class.  Everyone THOUGHT  we were a couple (which increased my popularity quota with the art fags by a thousand points!!), but nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth was, despite our virtual  inseparability during regular  school hours, Zack J and I NEVER ONCE hung out outside of school.  Plans were discussed, and never materialized. Invitations were extended,  and flaked out on. Did this stop me from loving and worshiping him completely ?  Absolutely not. I was sick, sick I tell you, and about to get sicker.

One day, in poetry class, Zack J. Passed me a note. I expected it to be his usual banter about how everyone hates him, or drawings of Mr. Brick naked with an Ewok head.

Instead, it was a proposition.

“Hey. I like your tights today. Would love to see them rolled up on my bedroom floor.” Next to it, was an expertly drawn medical-model grade picture of an  erect penis. Did I mention Zack J was a genius artist? But of course he was.

I blushed furiously. Look, I wasn’t the glorious hobag back then, that  I am today, okay?  In 1993 I’d never even so much as KISSED  a boy, and here he was, Zack fucking J!! heart-throb of the school. Idol of my soul.  (even the preppy girls loved him!) Inviting me over for DOING IT?!!! when we hadn’t even gone on ONE of the many hundreds of dates I dreamed we would go on.

“Do you think I’m that easy?” I responded.

“So, is that a yes?” he wrote back.

This went on and on, until the bell rang.

The next day, when he walked into painting class, I noticed these  giant dark welts all over his neck.

“Whoa dude,  do you have hives?” I asked, knowing full well that they were hickies.

“Yup. These are my souvenirs” he said, smirking. “Got ‘em last night. You like em?”

I died.

It was the  beginning  of the end of our non-relationship. Not long after this, Zack J.  began officially  dating a mosquito-armed goth girl called Nicole, who I cleverly nicknamed “The Daughter of Joy” (a victorian  euphemism for “slut”  that I found while reading the thesaurus)  (Yes, I read the thesaurus in highschool. For fun. Cover to cover.)  Every morning before 1st hour painting  class he would be there, sucking her face, and looking right at me while my insides churned to rancid butter.

We still remained friends, Zack J and I, after the “souvenir” incident, though things cooled considerably.  Generally, however, things  went on as they always did (minus the arm-in-arm walks through the hallway).  We whispered. We passed notes. We shared snacks. We discussed Sonic Youth’s new album “Dirty.” He still called me up late at night sometimes. (Especially when fighting with Nicole).

On the  night before April Fools 1993, I spilled out some of my dark feelings about Zack J,  in a heart to heart with my mom.  She patiently listened to me, as always, and agreed that Zack J.  was kind of a shit kebob, and deserved to be punished somehow for jerking me around and making me anguished.

“You  know what you should do?” She said, with a twinkle in her eye.  “You  should play a joke on him for April Fools Day.”

“But April Fools Day is  tomorrow!” I said. “We don’t have much time.”

We began to scheme. Did I mention my mom is kind of evil? (Mom, if you’re reading this…it’s a compliment)   If you ever need someone to help you exact revenge, she is a great resource. Like a military strategist she is,  plotting out strengths and weaknesses in the victim, and determining a  course of action that is both subtle, and will bring long-lasting scars.  After hours of  excited  debate, we settled  on something that was a: legal b: awesome and c: attacking him where he was most vulnerable: drugs, girls, and his dangerous “cool guy”  outsider reputation.

The next morning, April 1,  I actually smiled at Zack J. as he made out with Nicole outside of the 1st hour classroom. My bag rattled happily as I walked, with the secret  weapons of my destruction.

“I feel so like eh today. Everything’s like eh. ” Said Zack J, plopping himself down next to me after the bell rang,  and opening his sketch book.   “Like Eh” was one of his favorite phrases.

“Well, you’re in luck, pal  because I’ve got something for your eh,” I said. I then reached into my bag and pulled out a tiny bottle of pills.


“Aphrodisiacs” I said.

“Dude…..” He said, staring at the bottle.

“Yeah. My dad’s friend Chuck picked these up in Thailand. They’re made from powdered rhino horn and ylang-ylang root.”

“Ooh, ooh!  Give me a whole bunch!” He said, reaching for the bottle.

“Wait, wait.  Hold on,” I said, raising my hand to block him.  “These things  are really REALLY powerful. One of my friends took it and was hitting on my dad.   Go easy, okay? I don’t want to see you humping Mr. Brick in poetry class later on.”

He took the bait Like a greedy little goth goblin, he gobbled down every last single pill. (about 5 total)

“I’m warning you!” I said.”Go Easy!”

“Wow, I feel kinda hot already,” He said, swallowing.  He then began to cheerfully add a few open stuffing wounds to a disfigured teddy bear he was drawing.

He had no idea that he’d just consumed about 10,000 IU’s of beta carotene pills from my moms vitamin cabinet. Ahem.

The next time I saw Zack J he was at lunch.  After 3 hours,  the entire south side of the lunchroom was buzzing with news of Zack J’s aphrodisiacs.  “My sex is just tingling!” he said to me. “I’m worried  I really might end up humping Mr. Brick after all.”

“I warned you not to take so many,” I said.

I was counting on one thing that day, to stage my big “reveal.”  A fire drill. Even though I was not above ditching class to smoke stolen cigarettes at the coffee shop nearby, there was no way I was pulling a fire drill.   Especially because I knew someone  else would always  do it. (Yes, we had fire drills every single day at central high).

It finally happened in 5th hour. Fire drill.

I went outside, and looked for Zack J. He was surrounded by a throng of admiring freshman girls, and gesticulating wildly to his genitals.

“Hows it going?” I asked him.

“Oh man. You know. I’m on fire.” He said.

“Yeah, you really do look like you’re glowing or something.”

“I do?”

“Yeah, you’re actually…kinda orange.”


“Yeah. It reminds me of one of the side-effects from taking too many beta carotene vitamins.

He looked at me blankly. A few girls started tittering.

“What? I don’t—“

“Those weren’t aphrodisiacs you took, jerk. They were beta carotene vitamins. APRIL FOOLS!”

The crowd exploded. I walked away smiling, satisfied to let it all burn to the ground.

The next few days, I was a celebrity at my school. I was “that girl”  who played that joke on Zack J, the untouchable darksider. “That girl!”

Zack J and I continued to grow further apart for the remainder of the year. However, oddly, on the last day of school, I found a note in my locker:

“Just so you know, I had a huge crush on you,  but you ruined your chances with that April Fools Stunt. I almost put acid in your coke after that one, but thankfully I’m a decent person, unlike you. Hope you are happy.”

Well I’ll be. I was happy. Even though there was no chance in hell we would ever date, I was happy to know that, for a while, Zack J.  loved me too.

I died.


About ArleneShirlee

Hello. I live in Oakland. I write, I rap, I play drums, and I do some neat party tricks.
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