April 1st. April Fool's Day. A date that's always lived in infamy for me. Since I was a kid, I was the subject of some really messed up jokes. It all started when I was around seven years old: my older brother Jason likes to go all out and prepare for some pranks. On my way to school, he got an exact copy of my bookbag and filled it with fake bugs. That shit shocked me when I noticed the bag wasn't as heavy, so I opened it and plastic flies and roaches and centipedes dropped out. I screamed and he was laughing in the other room.
"Yo, I got to take a picture of this," and he came in with his camcorder. We got to call up MTV because this guy would be great for Jackass. Thankfully, it ends there, but later he pulled a prank on Mom, and I was expecting/hoping she'd get mad at him, but it was more like she was playing along with him. Last night, Dad ordered us some Cuban food from a local restaurant and after we were done, Jason said he'd take out the bags and trays, which he did. I saw him take out the bags. But what he didn't tell anyone was that he kept the plastic cutlery. What did he do with them? He put them all in the drawer where we keep the utensils, but my mom had a trick up her sleeve: she noticed Jason forgot the cutlery and was gonna go out and tell him we didn't need it, but she noticed more and then looked at the calendar and I asked her if she was gonna say anything about the cutlery. She just flashed me a smile and said, "Actually, no, baby. I got just the thing," then she took out four of our own silverware and hid them in her room.
"You thought you had me this year, boy," Mom said to Jason, "but I got one on you." Then she pulled out the forks and knives for us all to eat our breakfast: Pancakes and bacon. So Jason kind of shot himself in the foot there. But he's a seasoned trickster, so he took it in stride. My Dad is a really bad sport, and also he's the most gullible of us all. One time, Jason used mirrors to trick Dad into thinking the bathroom was a labyrinth and he wasn't impressed. He grounded him for a week which is why Jason doesn't prank him as much. Mom and I were laughing up a storm, though.
And it's not just my brother. Sometimes my friends at school have done it too and I throw some back at them a bit. An apple with fake blood here, a fake signature from a celebrity there; nothing too serious. I don't really go for the more elaborate pranks because of the risk. You really think I'm ever in the mood to get an earful from my mom because the principal found his car in the classroom? Or because I sold fake test answers to my class and made $400 on everyone else's miserable failures in academics? I'm not Jason, I'm not that malicious.
So I thought that since Jason is the troublemaker, I thought I'd go for a different route. Instead of giving someone a headache, I thought I'd go for some pleasant surprises. This was during my junior year in high school. The night before, I cut out a hole in an apple like I used to, but instead of fake blood or snot or slime (yeah, I know; that's gross), I thought I'd fill it with some skittles. So, during lunch I gave one to my friend Paul.
"Damn, Trevor," he said to me, "I was worried you put something gross in here, but I got free skittles. Thanks, man."
So that was something unexpected. Typically, when somebody mentions pranks, automatically you'd would think something like a whoopie cushion, or cups full of water all over the ground, or as I like to do, hide candies in fruits. But it's not always to laugh at somebody. Some pranks are completely harmless or even beneficial. Paul could've been starving; he probably got a snack from a bodega or something, maybe it's not filling enough, he waits for lunch, but doesn't see his favorite food on the menu, then I come along with some food. On any other day, if I was him, I'd probably not want to be bothered, but if I was starving, I'd probably think, "I don't care what you got, bro. I want something to eat. What do you have on you?" And then I give him and apple with a surprise inside. My prank helped him in the short-term.
But I wanted to try something else for the day. I didn't want to just limit it to food. I thought I could look for something, but I got no dice. Sometimes I like to write little messages on the whiteboard that make it look like the previous class had something amazing happen, but people just got jealous of that something that probably didn't happen. I could go into the classroom and organize the desks if they look askew, but some kids get in trouble if they're caught in the classroom between periods or even after hours. I haven't heard of anyone getting handcuffed or arrested for trespassing on the school while I was attending, but teachers who've worked here long enough have told me that it's happened to some students for different reasons. So that's out of the question.
Finally, we were at art class and the teacher, Mr. Blomquist, who is also an art critic absolutely loves my stuff. One of the first lessons was to write our names in a graffiti art and the colors I used made it pop off the paper. My favorite project so far was to take famous logos like Twitter or PepsiCo or McDonald's or others and distort them, make them look like they've been twisted or stepped on, rusted or beaten up, weathered or aged. We had to take famous brands and advance them by decades or centuries, like an old factory in upstate New York or Ohio. Most of these projects got me an A- or higher.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there was this one kid named Kenzie Chiang and she wasn't the best at arts and crafts. Actually, she consistently scored low. She was great at the written tests and reports, but creative work was a bit of a challenge, so I decided to help her out. I asked Kenzie what she had the most trouble with and what she thought was piss easy and she said that penciling was the easiest for her. So I thought I'd give her some boxes to use as a source of reference to draw on a separate canvas, but I added something to it. I arranged the boxes to make it look like a street. I put some black construction paper down on the table and arranged the boxes to look like buildings. I made some suggestions, and when she was finished she showed me the final product. I believed her when she said penciling was her specialty, but I was still shocked by what she showed me. She still didn't have a lot of confidence in her coloring so I told her I could handle that.
And this was where my artistic skills come in. I got to work. I took the canvas home with me and added a mess of colors: blues and greens for the sky; reds, browns and golden yellows for the buildings; the streets popped. This isn't even a prank anymore; I'm just helping someone out. Kenzie gave me the base and I'm giving her the building on which it sits. And I was proud of myself. I felt proud that I used this April Fool's to do something good, unlike Jason who got a week's detention for pranking everyone. No joke, he tried to prank every class he could and he got caught during lunch break.
Anyway, I brought the finished canvas back to school and signed it with our names: Trevor Johnson and Kenzie Chiang. And Mr. Blomquist gave us both an A+. I remember what he told us when he saw the portrait: No way! You two worked on this? It's lovely! Holy smokes! This needs to be hung up on the wall. A+ to you both!" Kenzie couldn't stop thanking me for helping her out with this project and I felt extra proud of myself for that. When I got home, I told Mom and Dad and they took us all out to the movies to celebrate. So, April Fool's Day, a date that once lived in infamy now lives in fame, and no one I know got hurt from it, aside from Jason.