My husband was a born storyteller. He honed the skill at an early age by listening to his dad who had a reputation for telling long-winded stories that often left his listeners laughing. Like father, like son. It was also a rare occasion that anyone could pull one over on Don when it came to telling the difference between a tall tale and a truth filled story. Then I entered his life and I believe one of the main reasons Don fell in love with me was because, when we first met, I was able to hook him into a fairytale about my career choice that I dragged on for 3 or 4 weeks before I finally told him the truth.
To this day I don’t know what made me tell Don that I raised tropical fish in my basement and shipped them mail order for a living---probably I didn’t want to tell this stranger I’d just met at a bowling alley/bar where I actually worked for fear he’d turn out to be a stalker or just plain not my idea of a date-able guy. But I kept in character and answered his many questions a lot easier than anyone who values Truth should have been able to accomplish. I didn’t even own a goldfish at the time! I had been researching the idea of setting up a fresh water tank so I had some useful facts and fancy fish names stuffed in the corners of my brain. The rest I just made up on the fly.
Week after week he’d come by when he knew the women’s league I was bowling on would be finishing up and he’d talk me into having a drink with him and his friend. I had a crush on his friend so it wasn't a hard sell. Always, Don was full of fish questions: How did I get customers? How did I ship my fish across the country so they wouldn’t die in route? Would I help him set up a tank? What was my favorite species of fish? “Oh, I couldn’t choose a favorite,” I told him “but the Crowntail Bettas and Black Moors sell the best.” When I finally decided the joke had gone on long enough and I told him he had fallen for a fairytale hook, line and sinker, he got a sheepish look on his face that, at the time, I couldn’t interpret. And the rest of the night he was uncharacteristically quiet so I thought that was the end of it. No more stopping by the bowling alley for this guy.
I found out later on that his friend, who was at the table when I made my confession, had told their fellow co-workers in the diemakers department that a girl had pulled one over on the King of Storytelling. In GM factory talk you can read that as: The king of bullshit just got out bullshitted big time! The following week Don showed up at the bowling alley, again, and he decided as a punishment for my big fish tale we had to go out on a date the following afternoon. Guess what we did on that date. He dragged me to a dime store where I helped him pick out two goldfish and all the supplies that went with the happy couple. The rest, as they say, is history.
This story came out of my memory vault today because I was trying to come up with a theme to write about for one of my infamous (and usually tongue-in-cheek) “Sunday Sermons.” I had goggled ‘inspirational topics’ but I couldn’t get in the mood for serious thought that might come off sounding preachy if I didn’t write it right. Then I goggled ‘Toastmasters Club topics’ and---bingo---there, I found a suggestion to pull something out of your past that changed your life and work your speech around that memory. One thought led to another and I got to wondering if I had told Don the truth that first night we met---that I worked in the floral industry---would my life have turned out differently? He might not have been intrigued enough without my “unusual career” to keep coming back. He certainly wouldn’t have been kidded unmercifully by his co-workers for being bested by a woman. The King of Bullshit lost his crown! We've gotta meet this girl!
If this blog entry were the bones to a speech I’d written for a Toastmaster’s Club the finished product might hold an audience’s attention, but as a Sunday morning inspirational piece, it falls flat. Instead of teaching the value of being a person of high morals, it holds up an example of where telling a whooper of a lie led to love. Sunday mornings should be a time to reflect on the intrinsic values that hold civilizations together, shouldn’t they? A lie, fib, practical joke---whatever you want to call what I did---is not one of those intrinsic values, so I hope no one with a young, impressionable mind is reading this. It's bad enough that the Angels who look out for soul mates are up there laughing at my hand-wringing dilemma on whether or not I should seek out a confessional booth this fine Sunday morning or to sing their praises for letting a tall tale and little fish bring two people together so many years ago. ©