Recently I met an old junior high school pal of mine, Justin, who told me he recently passed the bar exam and was deciding whether or not to take a high paid job in Washington or a dream job in the Virgin Islands. I hadn't realised Justin made it to college (let alone law school!) since he had a reputation of regularly faking sick to stay home from school. When I reminded him of this he seemed pretty proud. "Let's face it," he said, "school can be tiring and every now and then we need a break to catch up on some sleep, TV, PS3 or even to read a book that we actually like and isn't being forced down our throats. Besides, sometimes I had to fake sick so I could have an extra day to finish my homework or study for an exam."

I should mention that Justin was no ordinary sickie faker. He was a master, sometimes managing up to 20 days sick leave from school per year. That's a month off school! So, how did he do it? Read on for the best techniques for staying home from school by faking sick, as practised by the best.

The most important thing when faking sick is to never ask to stay home. Never tell your parents you are sick. Never mention your illness. It has to be their decision–you just have to lead them to make that decision. The moment you make it your idea to stay home from school, you have lost. Give your parents the chance to show that they care even if it means heroically putting on your uniform and heading towards the door–if you do the right things along the way, your parents will be demanding that you stay home. Make sure you give the appearance of weakness. While walking, lean on counter tops for support. Maybe leave some breakfast uneaten (you can easily fill up later since you'll be staying home from school all day!).

There are loads of ways to make yourself appear sick. You can put a hot cloth on your head to imply fever. You can make several trips to the bathroom to imply an upset stomach. Rub a little onion under your eyes or sprinkle of pepper in your nose and you'll soon be sniffling and sneezing like you have a cold. Headache and stomach-ache are the most popular fake sicknesses. That's because they're the hardest to prove against and are so general that the best remedy is usually to take a day off to rest. However, according to Justin, the most important thing is that you have to believe it. "Most illness is psychosomatic anyway. If you tell yourself enough times that you're sick, you'll feel sick. You'll look sick." No wonder Justin ended up being a lawyer!

Justin never once lied to his parents so he could stay home from school. He would simply fake sick and said things like "I don't think I can make it" or "I'm not really feeling up to it" which was always the truth since no one is ever feeling "up to" going to school. It's a more passive, indirect way to ask to stay home from school. You don't want to give your parents a chance to reply "no"; instead you have to give them something to ponder and then to come to their own decision. If you ask your parents "Can I stay home from school?" they have only two possible answers: "Yes" or "No". Most likely their answer will be a resounding "No". But, using a more indirect approach by saying things like "Ugh, that was weird. I just got really light headed." can be much more powerful since they can't be so easily shut down. Acting sick while making it appear as though you are actually attempting to go to school and then getting your parents to "decide for themselves" that you should stay home from school is a far more effective way to get to stay home from school.

You definitely don't need to try any of those faking sick techniques which actually require you to make yourself sick. There's no point in being sick on your hard earned day off! Don't try gagging, eating rancid food, starving yourself or taking anything that will make you ill. Your sick day is not there for you to lie in bed being sick! It's for you to lie in bed being relaxed, watching TV or doing whatever the heck you want! It's all about acting sick, not actually being sick. Justin said he had lots of tricks like sucking on cough-drops. That way you never have to say "I feel sick" because the implication is that you are sick. Plus, parents will associate the smell of cough drops with being sick themselves and then will more likely be able to identify with you. Justin explained it like this, "If I had've used makeup to look pale or just complained about an upset stomach they might not have believed me and then I'd never get away with it again."

So, how do you make your parents come to the conclusion that you're actually sick? Here's a list of quick tips that you can mix and match for greatest effect in faking sick:

Quick Tips:
- Spend your Sunday in bed in order to get Monday off. If you are out playing all Sunday and then suddenly claim illness that night, it will be less believable than if you have spent the valuable part of the weekend in bed.
- If it's cold, don't wear a sweater. If it's warm, wear a coat.
- Wash your face in really cold water. When they put their hand on your forehead to see if you have a fever they'll be startled at how cold and clammy you'll feel.
- Slow things down. Without being melodramatic, start to walk with a little uncertainty as though you're dizzy or might be in pain
- Get up at a really inconvenient time (say, 4:30am) to go to the bathroom or get a drink. This will leave it open to your parents who will mention hearing you get up in the middle of the night and may also help you look puffy the next day.
- Sleep in, with the bed covers wrapped around you (this can backfire since they might yell at you for being lazy). Try getting out of bed and walking to the kitchen with the covers still wrapped around you.
- Don't do your hair! Be as unkempt as possible.
- Don't tell anyone you're planning on faking sick. They may tell on you.
- Scatter your sick days: Once a month is a realistic goal, but don't take the same day off each month. Try to aim for days when parents and teachers will be distracted. The best days are Wednesday or Thursdays since Mondays and Fridays are always seen as an attempt to get a 'long weekend'. Besides, it's nice to break up the week with a little holiday! If a teacher has been sick, aim to fake sick on the day they return since they will most likely have been faking sick too and won't dare accuse you in case they get found out themselves. Alternatively, if they really have been sick, they will inevitably identify with you and you can say things like "seems like no one's immune to this bug that's going around." This works equally well with parents.
- If a TV is on, don't go near it. Ask if they can turn the sound down because it's hurting your ears or giving you a headache. That way they won't suspect that you're really planning a "Simpson's" marathon on the day you should be at school.
- Breath through your mouth and try to get that flap of skin at the back of your throat to dry out a little so it makes a gagging sound when you take a breath.
- Gag, splutter and cough. The more gross sounds you can make, the better. That way, no one will want to go close enough to you that they could work out that you're faking.
- Go to bed early the night before.
- Don't celebrate too early once your parents have left you at home and gone to work. They may come back for a surprise check-up. Stay in bed until at least 1 hour after they leave.
- Continue to fake sick when you go to school the next day. That way you won't have a miraculous (and unbelievable) recovery and you'll also be a hero for going to school when sick (which will help you next time).