Friday, September 05, 2008
Click here to read Rumor Control: Chapter 1
The one blessing about Friend Scott being gone is that I no longer am made privy to the silly gossip and rumors circulated about me. And believe me, they are always ridiculous. One thing about the Appalachian culture in my area is their liquid interpretation of the concept of truth.
Case in point: two late elderly twin sisters that I've written about in the past lived with their 100-year old mother up here. Someone started a "fun" rumor that the girls were sewing money into the quilts they made. The fact was, they were using newsprint to stiffen the backings as they sewed. Sure, it's fun to roll eyes big and whisper about a fortune being sewed into quilts--the sort of tale you'd tell on a cold night next to the wood stove. Well, it wasn't so funny when the 80-year old twins and their 100-year old mother were nearly beaten to death, the mother dying shortly thereafter and one of the girls losing their eyesight--their quilts stolen and no doubt destroyed all because of that rumor.
So. I'm visiting my friend yesterday and I took her the print copy of The Angler that one of my stories appears in. It just arrived in the post and I wanted to share it with someone--naturally being excited. She gives me a funny look. It's the look I remember my mother giving me when I'd done something and lied about it.
"You know," she says. "You could tell me if they paid you a thousand dollars for one of these stories and I wouldn't tell anyone."
I'm flabbergasted. I start laughing uproariously and say, "If they gave me a thousand dollars for one of these stories, you wouldn't be able to shut me up!"
She's not buying the truth, not one lick of it. The look lengthens. "I'm just saying, if you asked me not to say anything, I wouldn't." Serious as a church.
And honestly, I'm hurt because this is the friend I would run straight to and tell such news, if it were remotely possible or true. And I already trust her to keep my confidences--though I don't think I've ever had any.
Not her fault--but what it tells me is that there is a malicious rumor spreading around the mountain that I'm making gobs of money from selling flash fiction stories at 1000 bucks a pop. Never mind that I've ridden out the dog days of August with a busted AC unit I have no money to repair, can only afford one tank of gas per month, am unable to afford to pay someone to do my yard for me while I've been sick--or get the lawnmower repaired. Never mind there is absolutely no evidence that I live in anything other than the austere poverty I've always lived. It's, unfortunately, the sort of rumor that gets people killed up here.
Which means...it's time for another installment of Rumor Control!
This is the feature of the blog where I offer up a dozen juicy tidbits about myself that may or may not be true. You are welcome to speculate on what is truth or lie and locals trolling the blog are welcome to spread any of these rumors about me about the mountain freely.
Here we go...
1. As many of you know, if you've been following the blog for a while, I was born with a tail. I like to think of it as something that sets me apart--special. If I really , really like you--it wags.
2. I once brought the entire National Venezuelan Men's Volleyball Team home with me one night and had my way with them. The language barrier turned out to be not such a big deal after all.
3. My skirt fell completely off in the middle of a job interview. As luck would have it, I decided to wear underwear that day.
4. My mother spent a gang of time sheepshead fishing when she was pregnant with me and I ended up being "marked" by a sheepshead. You can't see them, but I've got black and white strips all around my middle--just like a sheepshead. I also had little hard nubby teeth like one when I was born, but they fell out.
5. I'm not really a woman.
6. You were all wrong, bamboozled, completely fooled. Friend Scott and I always were an item. He's not gay, never was and just made all that stuff up to protect my honor. Then y'all went and burnt his house down. Bet you feel stupid now.
7. I woke up in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve to find my girlfriend standing over me with a butcher knife. Said I'd been too "nice" to her and now she had to kill me.
8. I once played backgammon with a mysterious man in a dark bar off a foggy street. He was beautiful and sinister in an androgynous way--like a manga villain with a sad past that made him evil--yet strangely hot. Longish dark blond hair and eyes like abysses. I won two out of three. He told me he'd see me again, one more time in this life. I was only eighteen, but I knew what he meant. I knew him. He was Death.
9. I burned down a barrier island all by my lonesome. No one found out.
10. If you stroke me in the middle of my chest, you can hypnotize me--just like a chicken. Honest.
11. I snorted cocaine with James Coburn.
12. I don't have a sternum. See, they had to remove it when I was in the hospital. To get a discount on my half a million dollar medical bill for that six months, I agreed to be part of a teaching experiment. They replaced my sternum with a piece of special medical plexiglass that allowed students to look into my chest cavity --like a little window. It's still there. I have to clean it off with Windex now and again. It still works just fine. Kinda gross though.