A quarter-century ago, I was fooled–hook, line and sinker–by an April Fool’s story in Sports Illustrated.

It was about Sidd Finch,” a newcomer to the baseball scene purported to be able to hurl the ball 168 mph, or roughly 68 mph faster than anybody else. Turns out that I would move to the community (Oak Park, Illinois, on Chicago’s western border) where the fellow depicted in the photographs of that classic George Plimpton piece, Joe Berton, was a school teacher.

Anyway, I like pulling legs as much as anyone else–and much more than most.

So when I had a chance recently, at the invitation of Wednesday Journal managing editor Helen Karakoudas, to pull an April Fool’s stunt involving my alter ego, Super Shopper Spotter, I quite literally leapt at it.

Step 1: Re-Purposing the Triple S Identity

The first step was figuring out how to re-purpose that Triple S identity. Super Scruffy Singer? Super Statistical Story-Teller? The possibilities were boundless, but I “skateboard” popped in my head, and the rest of my moniker smoothly flowed.

Of course, last week when the article appeared in the “Wednesday Jerbil,” I doubt anyone believed for a moment that Triple S now stood for Super Skateboarder Stopper. Just the same, it was fun. The tale bore this headline: “Superhero scouts new economic stimulus,” with the concocted story contending that I was the enforcer of a new tax that compelled skateboarders to fork over money for the privilege of enjoying their mode of transit.

Above, you can see me as I strain to confiscate one young man’s skateboard. And as for this other photograph, what am I about to do? Of course, that’s me (well, my evil alter ego) about to hurl the skateboard onto the nearby Park District of Oak Park roof!

It was all in good fun…and it was all enabled by this good-natured guy showing up after I lingered in the skateboard park for about 10 minutes, hoping that someone would come by to justify my wacky garb.

You can also check out some of Super Shopper Spotter’s other exploits here.

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