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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Owe No Allegiance to the Facts

Like many people who write, I spend a lot of time in my own head. It’s pleasant in there. The skies are blue; the barometric pressure, steady; the edges, rounded; the unsavory facts encased in bubble wrap and unable to hurt anyone.

It’s nice, in my head.

And as can be expected by someone with a limited loyalty insofar as reality is concerned, I make stuff up.

And sometimes, people who should know better mistake my stories for truth.

Years ago, I wrote a piece as part of a writing exercise. Certain elements were to be present: danger, colorful dialogue, humor, resolution.

There was never mention made that it must be true.

So I made it up. I used an actual vacation I had taken, made up some names, created both situation and dialogue. It was published online and quickly forgotten.

Or so I thought.

Months later, at a party, I am approached by a woman whose name I had used in that story.

“You remember that, Pearl? You remember that night? Everyone, this is Pearl. She’s the one I was telling you about.”

I shift my beer from one hand to another, look around the room. Linda is a dramatic and insecure person prone to both hysteria and self-aggrandizement. She wears me out.

“What night are you talking about?”

“You know! The story! Remember that?” While I run my eyes over the rest of the room, looking for a way out of this conversation, she lays out everything I had written, quotes it extensively. A crowd gathers as she relates the fictional tale as something she personally experienced, adds details not in the original story implying that she saved me from a dangerous situation and that I, being young and foolish at the time of said story, owed her a debt.

Linda laughingly finishes up by saying, “Really, Pearl, you need to be more careful.”

Mary appears at my elbow. “None of that happened, did it?” she whispers.

“Not a word of it!” I hiss. “What in the world is she talking about?”

Mary laughs. “This is what you get for writing a story using her name. What’d you use her name for anyway?”

I shake my head. “It was just a name, just a location. Now she thinks it’s real!”

“You going to call her on it? She’s made herself out to be a hero!”

And you know, I thought about it. I wanted to, but I couldn’t. As annoying and needy as Linda is, I couldn’t take away a story that made her a hero.

Like I said, it’s pleasant in my head. Even when what’s in there is fueled entirely by the imagination.

41 comments:

Grant said...

Now do one about how she saved the world from rampaging Giant Atomic Chickens™ to see if she believes that one as well.

Fred Miller said...

All my characters are based on me. The black women, the gay men, even the horses. That helps me to assure that all my stories are true. I'm pretty sure God likes my interview with Him. It's all true.

Symdaddy said...

I have never, ever ... no,not ever ... made anything up!!!

And I'm ashamed of you Pearl!

If I hadn't been injured saving all those people from a sinking burning building that was about to crash from 13,000 feet, I would come over there and give you a piece of my mind!

Joanie M said...

That's very funny!!

Flea said...

I love it! I'm sure Linda needed that story more than you did. Generous of you to leave it with her. :)

Sausage Fingers said...

Nice one, did you make up the vacation at Ana Maria Island?

lesinfin said...

Haha! Funny how people forget all about that thing called fiction. (Delusion, whatever.) I like it better in my head too. It's lovely in there.
Xoxo

Hilary said...

Well it was in writing so she had her proof. Very big-hearted of you to allow her this story.

Unless of course you're making this one up. ;)

Greenfingers said...

Nice one pearl!
I however, think that my head could do with a bigger garden and perhaps some flowers?1

ICKY said...

Am I just part of one of your damn stories?
No....no.....I'm sure I'm........real?
That would explain the sunshine and dolphins here on the island.....or would it?
I'm relatively sure I'm real......I think.

Pearl said...

No, no! I assure you that what is in this blog is real, from the freaks on the bus to my talking, conniving cats. :-)

Mary is real. T is real. The bus and my work and my love of the late-night Beer Invitationals is all real. Even my vacations in Florida are real!

Toomuchtime said...

Hehe, quite a nice read.

Sweet Cheeks said...

That is exactly why, at the top of my sidebar, it reads "Everything posted here is complete and utter nonsense."

There's lots of Lindas running around out there.

=]
xo

Lynn said...

Yes! Beware the Lindas!

Stav88os said...

Nice post!:)

Support and follow!

http://animalsfromtheworld.blogspot.com/

powdergirl said...

Oy, can I come stay in your head for a while? Mines all snuffed up with a bloody sinus infection and you know what? I don't like it in there one bit, in fact, none of us does. Its foggy, the barometric pressure is too damn heavy and there's no sense to made of anything.
Nice of you to let Linda keep her delusions, but then, you're just kinda all around nice and this is what I would expect of you : )

lgsquirrel said...

Your head sounds like a nice place to visit. Is there anywhere I can get travel brochures?

Douglas said...

I envy that space inside your head. Ever been to Carlsbad Caverns? That's what mine is like... minus the lights and nicely paved walkways with railings and plus some bats, a lot of bats.

Rezden said...

Great post. Reality is just a concept. What's real to someone maybe false to another. . :)

HulaBuns said...

Lindas make me itchy, I'm just saying. I know plenty of Lindas and they drive me nuts. You certainly were the bigger person in that scenario. Good for you! Next time you hear her telling the story fake trip, fall into her and "accidentally" knock her over - it's just a thought. ;)

KathyA said...

I'm sure your face told it all!

a Broad said...

Oh boy, if I started claiming the Name Fame on movies, books, etc with a heroine called Candi/Candy/Candice ... I would be in trouble. You would probably have to lock me up.
I love what goes on in your head, Pearl, it is definitely a lovely place to be.

A man called Valance said...

Well, if she's happy...

At least she didn't sue you.

Simply Suthern said...

Some stories do sometimes take on a life of their on. But then again MAYBE, Just maybe it wernt made up but actually happened while you were in a drunken stupor and you just thought it was made up. I'm just say'in.

Christine said...

that was nice of you to let Linda feel the hero, you did the right thing I think

Louisiana Belle said...

Oh, Pearl. You are so funny. Wish I could take a trip inside that head of yours. Sounds like a wonderful place.

Lisa said...

I sometimes get into trouble when people can't distinguish my real stuff from the made up stuff. That doesn't stop me from making stuff up though.

I agree with some of your other commenters. You did a nice thing by letting Linda keep that story.

Jocelyn said...

Wait. a. minute.

MY name is Linda! This whole post is about ME?!!

Bitch.

Laoch of Chicago said...

Wow, what a creepy woman.

Supergreensunbear said...

Nice post. I'm ashamed to admit it took until the comments to realise it might be real. I thought for a second it was like a movie plot and we were in a few layers deep from actual reality and even then we wouldn't know... eeek!

Jhon Baker said...

I need to have this story in my pit of experiences. That is too funny. I think I would have comments something like -" I must have been more drunk than I realized!" or "aren't you happy I didn't write about what else we did that night?"

lunamother said...

@Jocelyn. Thanks. I just snorted warm apple cake out my nose *~*

Hey Pearl- mind if I hang out in your head for a while? Mine's all full of weird gooey stuff.
And not the good kind...

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

Isn't it interesting how certain readers make your writing all about them? When I wrote a piece about how narcissistic people were on MY WEDDING DAY, I believe I upset some of my narcissistic "friends" who were there.
I think I'd like to reserve a spot in your head too. Mine is much more chaotic.
xoRobyn

ISRAEL CARRASCO said...

Oh man that is great. This is why I'm selective about who I tell about my blog.

Tempo said...

All these years later I'm wondering how much that poor tired story has grown?! Perhaps by now Linda wears a blue uniform with red cape and a large S across the front...

Poppies and Sunshine said...

Funny story! At least it is a nice place in your head! I know people that seem miserable and their heads must be full of depressing thoughts! How refreshing it is to be pleasant :)

Glen said...

sometimes it is the safest place to be

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Pearl!

Woulda been a waste of time calling her on it. She'd have vocally pitied your self-denial, encouraged you to embrace your embarrassment, and made an even bigger show of it.

As for making stuff up, you wouldn't catch me doing that.

No, ma'am!

Indigo

Pat said...

Wow! That could have been a nightmare. When I was writing my memoirs I changed the names of most people and I still have slight panic attacks about it.
Anyway I'm glad I popped over and will come again:)

You've Got to Be Kidding Me said...

There's always room for crazy.

Loz said...

Ah well - no doubt a lesson learned. But I reckon good on you for not ruining her night :)