Nine Facts, One Falsehood (Part Three)

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.

16 thoughts on “Nine Facts, One Falsehood (Part Three)

  1. Wait……..if no. 7 is true…….how did you end up finishing so well in your class? what was it #? Out of ???……..did you hide your report card, like you did in high school?

  2. My oldest son also skipped 2nd grade and jumped straight to 3rd. Peggy and the teachers at his elementary school thought it was a good idea at the time; the concerns I raised, specifically about sports, were dismissed as nonsense coming from a sports obsessed Dad. When my son was older and realized what happened and the disadvantage that he had, specifically in high school sports, I was able to say with a clear conscience I was not part of the decision. To make it up to him, we agreed to fund a five year college program to allow him to “catch up”, and as a fifth year senior rugby player at Cal Poly SLO, this has reaped dividends. If #4 is true, we call that in our family an “Inverse Redshirt”. My guess for the lie is #1, the most benign of the statements.

    • #4 is true . . . I went straight from 1st to 3rd at Dale City Elementary School in Dale City, Virginia, where we ran on an experimental year-round 45/15 schedule. A year later, I moved to Lake Ridge (then a new development) and went to Rockledge Elementary for two years during the heyday of the “open classroom” movement, where we didn’t have grades, we had “teams” of kids who sort of did stuff together while lounging about in carpeted learning zones without walls. It was something of a culture shock to hit McArthur Elementary at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas in sixth grade . . . since that was the first “old school” rows of desks with a long summer vacation experience I’d ever had. The sports thing wasn’t a big deal for me since (a) I was a big kid, and (b) I was a marginal athlete, so no one was going to send me to college on an athletic scholarship anyway. One unexpected problem with being a year behind though: I was only 20 when we graduated from Navy, so I never drank a legal beer in Annapolis as a midshipman!

      #1 is true, too . . . it might seem benign on some plane . . . until you start to think about what a house, trailer and/or yard filled with dozens and dozens of cats might look and smell like!! My grandmother was, truly, the quintessential crazy cat lady. I refuse to own more than three animals, ever, just to make sure I don’t tilt that way myself for genetic reasons!

      • Hmmmm…the details of number two were integrated into one of your fictions, but you could have used your grandfather as the source material.

        So, I am leaning towards number 10, as I was under the impression your musical noodlings were mostly of the keyboard — not stringed — variety.

        • Number two is true . . . . an incredibly distinctive and evocative smell for me, one that (as you note) I’ve written into stories.

          Number 10 is the lie . . . but not for the reason you cite. I actually am mostly a string guy, so most of the keyboard stuff I’ve done has been of a noise-making synthy variety rather than a melodic variety . . . but I DID take some formal lessons: about six months worth of guitar lessons in elementary school, and about six months of viola lessons when I was in my 20s . . . .

          Well played.

          • Woo! That and $9.99 will buy you the new Clutch album.

            Speaking of which (nice segue, yes?), it’s nice to see some fire back in the bellies of our favorite Maryland sons. They seemed bored and tired on the last album — this is a nice return to form.

          • With you 100% . . . the only song from the last album that I listen to very often anymore is “Abraham Lincoln.” After a couple of weeks, I’m hearing this new one up there in “Robot Hive/Exodus” zone . . . a classic. Marcia and I are going to see them on April 11 in Des Moines. Hands up, who wants to rock!?

          • Have to agree…”50,000″ was my favorite on the disc. The “X Files” vibe didn’t hurt, either.

          • It’s a good one, yeah . . . as is “Motherless Child” . . . but somehow it felt a little like “going through the motions” to me. The guys had to have a big single with a title that made you say “woo hoo” and this was the one. Not as special as the big singles from some of the other albums for me, though . . .

          • I agree that they wrote it with the idea of it being the “big single,” but I love it nonetheless.

            Really, what I truly love is they are a band that believes a hit single can boast a chorus of “Anthrax!/Ham radio!/And liquor!” God bless them.

          • I also like the fact that Neil pronounces our 16th President’s name the way I grew up saying it . . . . “Abe-aham Linkin” . . . God bless ’em indeed.

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