To pull off the perfect April Fools' joke, one must first find the perfect April fool. When you're 11 years old and the third of four children, that points to one person and one person alone: your younger sibling.
Twenty-four years ago, I executed the kind of April Fools' joke that deserved a plaque and a podium. Without my little sister Mari, it would have never been possible.
To appreciate this story, you must first understand that I loved three things at age 11: Trey Ames, Girl Scouts and tormenting my little sister. Trey Ames was an obscure teen heartthrob whose face occasionally decorated the pages of the reputable Tiger Beat magazine. Girl Scouts was kind of a cult for us little girls, complete with a leader, badges and cracklike cookies. And, tormenting my little sister was, well, the whole reason I prayed for a little sister.
You've heard of "two for flinching"? Before Mari came along, I endured 2,000 for flinching. I just wanted to pay a few of them forward.
But two for flinching was a daily stunt. April Fools' Day deserved something much more commemorative.
It all started at my best friend Jolene's house. Her mom deserves an April Fools' Hall of Fame induction. Every April 1, she plotted a brilliant trap for her kids. And every April 1, they eagerly nibbled the cheese.
On this Saturday morning, after a sleepover spent kissing our Tiger Beat magazines, Jolene and I awoke to devastating news. Her mom, remarkably unalarmed, informed us the house had been broken into the night before. The thieves had their sights set on one thing: Girl Scout cookies. And they got away with them. Hundreds of boxes of Thin Mints, Samoas, Do Si Dos and Trefoils lined the hallways and climbed the walls of Jolene's house the night before, a reflection of a hardworking Girl Scout and a country on the brink of an obesity problem.
After we thanked our lucky stars that the thieves took more of an interest in Thin Mints than, I don't know, our lives, we got to thinking about more important matters. What would she tell the folks foaming at the mouth for those cookies? The delivery deadline was in April, which was right around the ...
That's when the metaphorical pie hit my best friend in the face.
"MOM!" Jolene shouted. "I know what today is!" Yes, I thought, it's the day Cookie Monster turned thug, but what does that have to do with anything?
Wicked laughter erupted from outside Jolene's bedroom -- the sweet sound of a successful April Fools' Day prank.
We'd been had.
After deciding the view was much better from her mom's side of things, I hatched an idea and hurried home. When I got there, my target was in her bedroom, probably singing lullabies to her Cabbage Patch Kid. I grabbed a butter knife and a sleeve of Echo cookies, the Girl Scouts' knockoff of an Oreo that has since been retired, and headed to the bathroom.
It took careful accuracy to scrape the creamy center from the chocolate wafers without crumbling them. It took great precision to squeeze the perfect amount of cavity-fighting Colgate in its place. And, it took a small miracle for none of my five family members to need the bathroom while I executed the feat.
Before exiting the facilities, I tucked the evidence under my shirt. You know, in case someone had been casing the joint. I then placed the contradictory cookies on a small plate, poured a glass of milk and headed for Mari's bedroom.
To my older brother or sister, the gesture itself would have blown my cover. To 7-year-old Mari, it seemed like nothing more than another member of the family getting hypnotized by her cuteness.
I casually offered the cookies and tried not to show my investment in her acceptance of them. Without a thought, she snagged one from the plate and gladly gobbled into it.
Thank God for little sisters, I thought. She was about to discover the taste of confusion.
Mari's face grimaced and her brow furrowed. A palate full of snacktime flavor and toothpaste texture can do that to a girl. Watching her taste buds get acquainted with the minty freshness of the Colgate and the crunchy goodness of the wafers almost made me feel guilty. Almost.
The same wicked laughter that traveled through Jolene's house not long before was now making its way through ours.
Mari wasn't nearly as forgiving, though. She spit the concoction into her hands and glared at me. Surely she was wondering which one of us was adopted.
"Happy April Fools'!" I shouted, as if the "holiday" element would change her anger to celebration. Wrong.
That was the day I pulled off the perfect April Fools' joke, but it's also the day I learned that little sisters get big revenge.
When I went to bed that April 1, I still kissed the Tiger Beat poster of Trey Ames that hung over my bed. With Colgate smeared all over his face, it just tasted a little different.
Contact columnist Xazmin Garza at email@example.com or 702-383-0477. Follow her on Twitter @startswithanx.