Sometimes, someone tells you a story and you're honestly not sure if it's fact or fiction. This is a fun game I like to play with friends and family: Tell a tall tale and see if you can pass it off as real. Then do a big reveal at the end by screaming, "PSYCH!!!!!!"
For the game to work, the story needs to have elements of reality that make it seem legitimate, and it has to be spontaneous. Boredom is the mother of invention for this game, and there's nothing like a 1,000 hour car trip to bore you into inventiveness.
In 2005, Geoff and I were engaged and driving from Brooklyn to Alaska after four years of co-habitating. It was somewhere on the Alcan Highway between Dawson City and Tok that I chose to confess that I'd worked my way through college by waitressing at Hooters in Providence, Rhode Island.
This took some work, as it seemed rather improbable and inconsistent with my personality that I would have pedaled hot wings to sleazy jocks while wearing Daisy Dukes and a revealing tank top with an owl graphic on it. But I described the very competitive Hooters audition and interview process in detail; my divorced and vaguely lecherous Italian-American supervisor; the down-and-out stories of the other "girls" there, and the class-based tension that would sometimes arise between us. In no time, I had Geoff fished in on a world-class tall tale.
He sat there speechless, not judging me exactly, just shocked that I'd never disclosed this significant detail of my past before. I let the "truth" sink in for a good fifteen minutes while he asked several follow-up questions that I readily answered with verisimilitude. I let the "Libby-Worked-Her-Way-Through-Brown-at-Hooters" story marinate for another good half-hour before turning to him with a mischievous gleam in my eye and a cry of, "PSYCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!" The look on his face was priceless. It was a delectable combination of stark admiration for the elaborate story, and profound relief that it was all one big lie.
I was reminded of this last night, while discussing Lenders' Bagels with Geoff. These disgusting "bagels" are processed bread-with-a-hole-in-it that no New York Jew would ever be caught dead putting into their own bagel-hole. Geoff tried to tell me that in the 1950's, the bagel-rollers' union had fire-bombed the home of Murray Lender, founder of Lenders' Bagels, because Murray had begun mass-producing bagels by automated machine. This development had apparently rendered the bagel-rollers' union obsolete and enraged enough to bomb Murray Lender's house.
This had to be a "Hooters" story. There was NO WAY a Boss Tweed-type union fire-bombing occurred over BAGELS. I had to go online IMMEDIATELY to verify this (a resource that I note, in fairness, was unavailable on the Alcan during the Hooters Story and the story was likely not subject to reliable online research anyway). I was able to confirm the existence of the bagel-rollers' union (Local 338 in Manhattan), as improbable as that sounds in this day and age. I was also able to confirm that Murray Lender and his automated bagel machine revolutionized the bagel industry by bringing shitty bagels to the masses and forever convincing Middle America that bread-with-a-hole-in-it is a bagel.
But I could find no evidence of the fire-bombing of any Lender-owned establishment, residential or business. This was similar to the time Geoff told me that Jewish men were "renowned for their large testicles." It took a lot of Googling and several computer viruses before I gave up trying to confirm that rumor, and mark my words: I won't make the same mistake twice. The last thing I need is to end up on an FBI watch list for Goggling "fire bomb" over and over again in varying combinations.
Thanks a lot, liar.