It's too bad nobody won the Maserati GranCabrio. I really needed the tax deduction.
When I recently accepted “Lesa’s Bald-Face Liar Creative Writer Award” from some of my blogging buddies, I was obligated to tell you six outrageous lies and one total truth. Or six outrageous truths and one bold-faced lie.
And so I did.
Curiously, almost everybody assumed that six out of seven of my statements were lies, and that only one was true. I can only assume that people believe I’m rarely honest, or that I’m like James Thurber’s famous character Walter Mitty—a meek and mild-mannered man with a flamboyant imagination.
And you were half right.
I don’t lie; In fact, I’m honest to a fault—some people might even say rudely blunt. I feel perfectly at home in New York City, where people say what they mean, usually in less than 10 words, one of them being “fuck.”
But my everyday life is fairly dull, or what you might call average, boring, mundane, ordinary, routine, commonplace, humdrum, monotonous, tedious, uninteresting and unexciting—assuming you own a thesaurus like I do, and you probably do, because more than likely, you’re also average, and also lead a fairly dull life. In my experience, most people are surprisingly alike, and, like myself, hardly worth knowing, which is why we exaggerate, aggrandize, embellish, embroider, inflate and overstate the trivial events of our lives in order to feel important and make ourselves sound interesting to others.
But once in a while, something out of the ordinary happens to me, or near me. Hence my award-winning list, which was nearly all true, if a little misleading here and there just to keep the game interesting. Let’s take a closer look at each of the statements:
1) I once spent a week in Utah’s rugged mountains helping a team of technical climbers and law enforcement officers investigate a mysterious death. True, but misleading. After a National Park Service maintenance worker drove his motorcycle off a trail and fell 600 feet to his death on May 20, and I was asked to join a 10-person Serious Accident Investigation Team to help determine how the accident happened and how to help prevent similar mishaps in the future. The team included four very buff technical climbers, but I didn’t do any technical climbing—almost no climbing at all, in fact. Instead, I spent most of my time researching the park’s history and helping the team write its reports. We never learned what caused him to leave the trail—it could have been falling rocks—and so his death remains a tragic mystery.
Bigfoot also has big ears.
2) My brother is a wealthy former fashion model who is the world’s largest private collector of a particular type of antique furniture. True, although as my sister points out, we’ve never seen any photos from his fashion modeling days, leading us to speculate he was actually doing something shameful, although to be fair he is a notoriously private person who rarely communicates with his family. He is quite wealthy, however, and is the world’s largest private collector of a particular type of antique furniture. I didn’t name it because I can’t remember what it’s called. But it’s quite lovely, and I wish I owned some because then I could auction it off and pay off my house and take a trip to Italy.
3) I once held the world record for having the largest collection of business cards. Nope, this was a lie, but one based in truth. I did own a very large collection of business cards when I was a teenager and young adult—so large, in fact, that the local newspaper put a picture of me and some of my cards on its front page. I still have a laminated copy of the article, and often suspect it was the crowning achievement of my life.
4) I once spent a week searching for Bigfoot in the heavily wooded, swampy area of east Texas known as the Big Thicket. True, but misleading. I recently visited the northern end of the Big Thicket in East Texas for work. I wasn’t there to find Bigfoot, but because I desperately want to believe in Bigfoot, I spent most of my free time scanning the dense woods for signs of the hairy beast, and even hiked in it twice hoping to find some strange hair or scat that I could take to a cryptozoologist for analysis. Many people have reported Bigfoot encounters in the Big Thicket, which in the summer is a swampy, hot, miserable place that’s home to wild hogs, a host of poisonous snakes, and armadillos. Naturally, I didn’t see anything larger than a mosquito, spider or dragonfly, and I left the area after a week with a crushing sense of defeat, which is what I always feel when I spend time in a Bigfoot hot-spot but leave without a sighting. I may have to assuage my Bigfoot thirst by reading a book by author Rob Riggs called In the Big Thicket: On the Trail of the Wild Man. According to Riggs’ research, “in the Big Thicket, the unknown makes profound intrusions into what we call ‘reality.’ There are wonders in this region of East Texas and in Southwestern Louisiana—‘ghost lights,’ phantom Indians, howling ape-like ‘wild men,’ and fireballs that streak through the nighttime skies—that defy both our common sense notions of space-time and all attempts at scientific explanation. So come along, if you dare, for a trek in this forest primeval. You’ll emerge with a heightened sense of wonder and a deeper appreciation of the subtle links between the mysteries of nature and the human mind.” I love this sort of thing.
5) I recently went to Dairy Queen with the widow of the commander of the Space Shuttle Columbia. She had a medium chocolate-dip cone. I had a medium chocolate M&M Blizzard with malt. True. Her name is Evelyn Husband, and her husband, Rick, was killed in February 2003 along with six other astronauts when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart while re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Evelyn is working with a group of people in East Texas to help convince the National Park Service to build a permanent memorial to the crew. I met last week with Evelyn and a number of people who live near Hemphill, Texas, which is where most of the astronauts’ remains and much of the shuttle debris were found during what has been described as the largest search and recovery effort in American history. She’s an extremely nice, deeply spiritual Christian, and has written a book about her husband called High Calling: The Courageous Life and Faith of Space Shuttle Columbia Commander Rick Husband. I haven’t read it yet, but I hope to soon.
6) I once traveled to Geneva, Switzerland as a member of a German judo team. True, but also misleading. I was not a well-conditioned athlete with Olympic aspirations, as the statement might lead you to believe. In truth, I was about 10 or 11 years old, and the proud holder of a white belt in judo who would go on to never advance any higher in the sport because God did not see fit to bless me with attributes like strength, speed or balance. Instead, He blessed me with…well, He didn’t bless me with very much, to be honest, although I am grateful to be alive, I guess.
I can't wait to see Princess Stephanie of Monaco later this summer.
7) I wanted to be musician when I was younger, and took years of classical and jazz guitar lessons. True, as some of you correctly surmised. I grew up in a very musical family. For example, my father, Clarence, and his brother, Roy, were backup musicians for some of America’s most famous country performers on the travelling version of the Grand Ole Opry. I didn’t—and don’t—have their natural musical abilities, but with a lot of practice, I wasn’t half bad in my day. Unfortunately, I suffer from terrible stage fright, and rarely performed as a result. These days, I own a small collection of guitars, but rarely play anymore.
So there you have it. I hope I didn’t make you yawn or fall asleep, although there’s almost nothing as pleasurable as a good nap. I had promised to send a prize to the person who guessed which of my statements were true or false. But nobody did, and so I will keep the Maserati GranCabrio for myself. I might use it later this summer when I visit Princess Stéphanie of Monaco. She loves convertibles as much as I love princesses.