Day 105: Lie to someone about your past.

This was almost too easy.

I lied to my students, naturally: a captive audience, predisposed to accept what I say as true (they’re learning, though, that this is a mistake). The story below – the lie I foisted off on them – contains, as all successful bullshit of this sort must, some amount of truth. I’m not going to tell you which are the true parts and which parts are not, but at least you know going in that some of it’s bullshit.

“I had to drive my mom to the airport this morning,” I say to the students, by way of transitioning out of random chatter and into class. Someone asks the obligatory “where is she going” question, and I tell them Canada – Toronto, specifically. I ask if any of them have been to Canada; non-committal answers come back to me.

“It’s a nice place,” I say. “The summer after I graduated high school – when most of you were in kindergarten – I took a roadtrip there with a friend of mine. We had three weeks to get from north Texas to southern California, and decided to go by way of Canada. Ken – which isn’t his real name – tried to convince me that we should go as far north as the Arctic Circle – because why the fuck hell not? – but I overruled him, because I was doing all the driving, because he couldn’t drive a standard at the time, and I was a poor teacher of the skill.”

Blank looks at this point – they don’t know what I mean by “standard.” Digression on manual vs. automatic transmissions.

“Anyway,” I continue, “it took us a few days longer than we anticipated to get to the border – and, looking back, I realize we must have looked pretty shady. Two teenage guys – Ken with long hair, me with no hair – who had been living out of my car for four or five days, camping here and there, except for the night we stayed in that hotel in White Sulphur Springs, Montana, after I’d hit that deer – so my car was missing the passenger-side mirror and had a huge dent down the passenger side – we looked, on the whole, less than respectable. So it makes sense, I guess, that the border guards gave us some shit.”

“They didn’t have to arrest us, though.”

Stunned silence, at this point. A moment of misgiving on my part – well, shit, now these kids are going to tell their parents that their English prof once got arrested by the Mounties – but you have to power through that shit. So I did.

“They profiled us, obviously – we looked like we should have drugs, which dictated the course of action they had to take. We didn’t have any drugs,” I add quickly and, I hope, reassuringly. “We just looked like we had them.”

“Anyway, they took Ken inside to question him, while another officer stayed with me and made me unload the trunk. Which took awhile, because we had a lot of shit crammed in there. No drugs, though, which didn’t make them happy. Once I’d gotten everything unloaded, and the dude seemed to be done poking around in my trunk and in our luggage, I started to re-pack the trunk – which was a mistake. In a rapid series of motions that I can’t reconstruct, the officer removed the bag from my hand, got me to the ground, and handcuffed me – all before I was aware of what was happening.”

“Two dudes hauled me inside, put me in a cell with Ken, and left us there, without saying anything to either of us. We ended up spending the night in that cell – no charges pressed, they just wanted us out of the way while they unpacked all our luggage and dismantled my car. They released us the next morning, and we didn’t have everything re-packed, re-loaded, and the wheels back on the car until after noon.”

“Anyway. The point is, you should always have your shit in order when you visit Canada. Or when you come to my class – so pass forward your final paper outlines, and let’s get started.”


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