I hate April Fool’s Day on the internet, since I have no interest in reading wholly false articles designed to trick people into believing nonsense. So today seems a good day to run the third installment of “Nine Facts, One Falsehood” . . . because at least 90% of the material displayed below is real, compared to the 0% that most of the internet is offering today. (Prior installments: Number One and Number Two).
So which of the following ten statements is a lie? And why?
1. My grandmother in South Carolina had scores of cats, and we always had a few ourselves, so many of my earliest childhood memories involve moving around with a cadre of felines surrounding and/or menacing me.
2. My grandfather in South Carolina was a heavy equipment mechanic. He smelled like Juicy Fruit Gum and motor oil, all the time.
3. My first dog was a wire haired terrier named Angus; when we were visiting my other grandparents in North Carolina, the foul-tempered Angus decided to take on a pack of wild dogs and was killed by them. My second dog had a crippling injury as a puppy, then had to be put to sleep after developing a seizure disorder. I never really bonded with another dog again.
4. I was promoted directly to third grade without having to go to second grade; it seemed like a good idea at the time, but by high school the age difference became an issue with regard to driver’s licenses, etc.
5. My best friend from our mid-teen years was killed in the PanAm bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. He was returning home to finish his senior year at Columbia after traveling around Europe for a year, writing.
6. After high school, I was accepted for admission to the Naval Academy, West Point, the Air Force Academy, Duke and Virginia. I chose to attend the Naval Academy.
7. I did very well in military performance during the first half of Plebe Summer at the Naval Academy, because I knew more about the military than most of my classmates did, having grown up on military bases. By the second half of Plebe Summer that advantage had been neutralized, and I ended up being one of the lowest ranked midshipmen in my company, a status I held until I graduated.
8. My father served as Marine liaison to Ambassador Philip Habib during and after the Lebanese Civil War of 1982, and played an important role in the peace process negotiations there.
9. I am horrifically allergic to poison ivy, a fact unfortunately and graphically illustrated after I petted a horse that had brushed up against that noxious weed during my and Marcia’s honeymoon at Spicer Castle in Minnesota.
10. I can make a very credible noise on pretty much any instrument that has strings, despite the fact that I have never taken formal musical lessons.