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The Boy Who Cried 'Fool'

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"Buck, I know it's hard to believe me," Skaggs said. "Any journalist worth his or her salt wouldn't trust me. But mark my words — on my honor as a prankster — this time, it's going to happen. New York will have what it always deserved — an April Fools' Day Parade."

It all seems so crazy. After 20 years of organizing New York's most infamous annual nonevent, why would Skaggs actually follow through this year with a real parade? I spent about a half-hour on the phone cross-examining him.

"Don't make me go out on a limb, Joey, and then make me look like an idiot," I said.

"Buck, this is really happening this year. I'm making calls. I've got commitments," he said. And then, like a school kid trying to get out of a homework assignment, he added, "I'm going to make every effort to be there."

With Skaggs, there's really no way to be sure of anything — even when you're paying the guy a compliment.

When "Entertainment Tonight" interviewed Skaggs in 1988 for a segment about media hoaxers, Skaggs hoaxed them by sending an impostor for an on-air sit-down with host Mary Hart.

"How could I resist?" Skaggs later told The Associated Press. "I mean, who did they think they were dealing with?"

Over the years, I've written several stories about Skaggs and we've become friendly. Two years ago, he lent me one of his bizarre fish tanks — a $5,000 "Fish Condominium," which he was selling through the Neiman Marcus catalog — for an event to celebrate the publication of the "Wolf Files" book.

Like everything else about Skaggs, the fish tank has to be seen to be believed. It's larger than many New York City apartments — and the fancy decor would impress Paris Hilton, not that that's necessarily a compliment.

Would Skaggs lie to me? Perhaps. The press release for this year's April Fools' Day Parade is just as outlandish as those in the past, promising, among other things, another army of celebrity lookalikes, including Donald Trump handing out pink slips while wearing one, and a Mud Wrestling float featuring Michael Moore, who will take on all challengers.

"It's time to make this thing a reality," Skaggs said. "We're pulling something together that you definitely don't want to miss. Be there."

Skaggs was so emphatic, I just had to believe him. For 40 years, he's been showing just how gullible news reporters can be. I may just prove him right once again, but now, our friendship is on the line.