Mendacious First Meetings

A curious meme making the rounds on Facebook finally found it way last night to me. Here was the text I saw in a few friends’ status updates:

I want you to comment on this status about how you met me, but I want you to lie. That’s right. Just make stuff up. After you comment, copy to your status so I can do the same.

I was intrigued by this notion, as it’s essentially a community challenge in creative writing. I posted a few snippets for friends, and then, when reposting the challenge to my own status, I tweaked the text slightly:

I want you to comment on this status about how you met me, but I want you to lie. That’s right. Just make stuff up. After you comment, copy to your status so I can ignore it and you can feel like we’re socializing.

So far, so good. I’ve even seen a few of my acquaintances propagating my version of the challenge.

This is where it starts to get fun.

For my friend Dayton Ward, I wrote this:

The cops made a classic blunder: they picked us up on some bullshit charges and put us in a lineup together. They had nothing on us, and by 4am you and I were on the street and looking for an after-hours bar. Six hours later we had a plan; …48 hours later we knocked over New York’s Finest Taxi Service. Everything was going perfectly until that asshole Redfoot steered us into a fucked-up heist and left us holding the bag with that Limey jerkoff Kobayashi. And when we found out we’d both crossed Keyser Soze? Hilarious! Luckily, blowing up that ship squared things, and we even sold the movie rights to Bryan Singer (who, as usual, stole all the credit). Good times, bro.

For my friend Wrenn Simms, I wrote this (having mistaken her status update for that of her boyfriend and my pal, Keith R.A. DeCandido):

As one would expect, it was a classic “meet-cute” moment. We both started to dig a shallow grave in the same place when our shovels met, and in unison we told each other, “This spot’s mine! Go bury your dead hooker somewhere else!” Ah… memories.

Among the responses posted on my own page, several have made me smile.

Amy Mebberson wrote: “I won’t go onto details, but we only talk through lawyers now.”

Alan Sizzler Kistler wrote: “I had the whiskey. You had the guns. The vampires and all their tween groupies were outside. The rest is a red, red blur.”

But the pièce de résistance was this gem from the inimitable Allyn Gibson:

It was said you would be the next Baryshnikov, that you would be the ballet dancer of the generation. I do not know what happened that brought you to my door; in the monastery, we do not ask the brothers why they have come, and I shall never forget that look of anguish, as though something had rended your heart in two, that showed so clearly on your face that rainy night you arrived. I have wondered, it is true, why you walked away from a successful life and took up the cloth, but you took your vow of silence fifteen years ago so there is no point in asking. You do your duties diligently and, if I dare say so, you are an inspiration to the younger brothers for your piety and your devotion.

When I finished admiring Allyn’s prose and ironic sense of character, I noticed that he was among those who had posted my version of the challenge text. I felt that his worthy effort deserved another in kind, so, for Allyn, I wrote this:

We met on a lonely stretch of Pacific Northwest highway. I was driving from Alaska to Panama in my dilapidated blue 1973 Plymouth Arrow; you were hitchhiking in boxer shorts, bowling shoes, and a mackinaw. It was pure luck that I saw you through that torrential downpour. I pulled over and opened the passenger-side door.

You got in, drenched to the bone.

As you shut the door, I asked, “Where you headed?”

You nodded at the road. “Just drive.”

It was a long night and not exactly rich with conversation, but the quiet company was a welcome solace in the thundering gloom. Miles of black asphalt and yellow lines blurred past, until we were somewhere outside the dreary mediocrity of Tacoma.

Peckish, I pointed to a sign for an upcoming exit. “Feel like grabbing some food?”

“If we have to.” I took that as a yes.

We pulled off and stopped at the filthiest Denny’s I’ve ever seen. It would have been simply disappointing until your discovery of a rat’s asshole in your clam chowder made it memorable. I’ve never seen a Denny’s assistant night manager shit himself before. That alone made the trip worth it.

Plodding back to the car, we laughed like drunken sailors. Then you grabbed my arm and exclaimed, “Wait a second, I know you!”

“I don’t think so.”

“Yes, I do. You came to the monastery that night and joined the brotherhood. It was raining then, too.”

I stood, stunned. “My God, that was *you*?” Seconds passed as I stared at your face and searched my memory for its match. Then I found it, lodged in an improbable corner of my psyche. “Good lord, I didn’t recognize you without the ZZ Top beard.”

“Yeah, I shaved it after I left. It itched.”

“Understandable. Why’d you leave the brothers?”

“Two words: No. Pussy.” You fixed me with an inquisitive look. “Why’d you leave?”

“Two words: No. Booze.”

“Well, at least we had our priorities straight.”

We got back in the car and drove through the dawn, through a day, and into the next dusk. At your request, I detoured into San Francisco’s infamous tenderloin and dropped you off in front of a seedy hot-sheet motel. As you got out of the car, I called after you. “What’ll you do now?”

“Pimp, I guess.”

“Good for you. It’s a growth industry.”

“Where are you headed?”

“Panama. Thought I’d drink myself to death where the rum’s cheaper. If that fails, I can drown myself in the canal.”

“Ah. It must be nice to have ambition.” You shut the door and walked away to your new life, and I drove off into the gathering darkness to end mine.

Little did either of us realize we were fated to meet again…

And people say Facebook is a time-sink. Oh, crap, hang on… crap.

Time to go back to writing the stuff I’m paid to write.

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