My father is a master tapestry weaver. Not in the sense that he has a loom or anything, but in a story-telling and fact-bending way. You never know if what my dad’s telling you is the truth, a lie, or a combination of the two. It would be one thing if he were malicious about his untruths but he isn’t. Dad’s simply incapable of admitting when he doesn’t know something and he can’t help embellish what he does know.
Ask dad what India’s major export is and he’s likely to answer “coffee beans” off the top of his head. If his answer is challenged, he will come up with several other made up reasons why coffee beans is indeed the correct answer. If he’s confronted with an atlas that refutes his answer, he will claim that coffee beans used to be India’s largest export until the British made them plant tea instead.
According to dad, he was too busy in high school to study so my mom did his homework for him. This is probably true. However, the reason he was too busy, according to him, was because he was running his own gas station, which he owned. When he was 17. This is highly unlikely, yet it’s a story that he’s told so many times, he probably believes it’s true by now.
Which leads me to a comment I made on MisterPeace‘s blog yesterday. I made a comment that I believed to be true, only because it seemed so plausible to me. It was a truth I’d told myself many times in the past, yet is not true at all.
I claimed to have gone to the University of TX with Richard Linklater of Dazed & Confused fame.
At least I didn’t claim that I knew him. I absolutely did not know him, never met him, wouldn’t know him on the street if I hit him with my car. Not only that, according to every internet search I did, Mr. Linklater never attended U.T at all. It appears I have fallen into a classic “dad” embellishment of my life story. I was mortified. How could I have made such an error?
Was I becoming my dad?
It’s one thing for a blustery old guy like my dad to spout off outrageous lies and half-truths. People love him. They absolutely love the guy. He’s funny and full of life and embraces everything with great enthusiasm. Everyone knows he’s full of shit, but they really don’t care all that much. It’s part of his persona. But it’s not a part of him I want for myself and there’s no way I could carry it off with the panache and extreme confidence he does.
It probably doesn’t seem like such a big deal to most people, to have made an error about something you thought was true. But it bothers me because I don’t want to develop the habit of prettying up and embellishing my life. I don’t want people to roll their eyes behind my back, sure that my claims are another figment of my imagination or inflated ego. Yes, people love my dad, but they also know him as master bullshitter. And that’s not who I want to be.
I love that big old guy. He’s loving and smart and one of the funniest people I know. And oh yes, he can he weave a tapestry of facts together to make something new and completely different. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.