“It’s always the best policy to speak the truth, unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar.” –Jerome K. Jerome
I went to Down The Hatch last night for $1 draft night. I didn’t know anyone there and there weren’t any girls that I felt like talking to, so I walked over to Off The Wagon. I walked in and said to the bartender, “Hey Jamie. I just came from dollar draft night at The Hatch, so I’d like something cheap.” She told me that they had half-yards for $3.50. By that point, I really didn’t need to be drinking half a yard of beer, but Jamie told me to, so I did. So i’m sitting therw with my really long beer and this BEAUTIFUL girl walks up to me and said, “Hi. Are you Ryan?”
I knew that I should’ve said yes, but for some reason, I said, “Why? Should I be?”
“Okay. Obviously, you’re not.” She sat down next to me anyway. It turns out that Ryan was her blind date. “That’s a big beer to be drinking all by yourself,” she said.
I told her about how I was probably going to run into someone I know at some point, and I mentioned that I had come from Down The Hatch.
“Wait…Down The Hatch. Where is that again?”
“It’s right over here, across 6th Avenue on West 4th.”
She laughed and said, “Oh my God! That’s where I’m supposed to meet him! At Down The Hatch!”
This story is really disturbing, for three reasons. First of all, a guy was taking his blind date to Down The Hatch. Second, not only did I want to be Ryan, but I could tell that she really wanted me to be Ryan too. In fact, after we had established that she was at the wrong bar, she called Ryan on his cell phone and there was no answer. She said, “Oh well. I’d rather hang out with you anyway. If he calls, I’ll go. But otherwise, I’ll stay here.” Sure enough, Ryan called about thirty seconds later, and she left. The third reason why this bothers me is because I live for opportunities to bullshit. I’ll get about two or three messages every year on my voicemail from people who call me the wrong name (even though I say my name on my voicemail message), leave their name, and ask me to call them back. This happens to everyone, I’m sure. There’s one important difference though between me and everyone else: I actually call them back! And it works almost every time! One time, i had a guy on the phone for forty-five minutes! I was talking about the kids that I supposedly have (Tommy’s getting braces, Brad’s Little League team lost the championship, and Samantha is already going to be in high school next year; can you believe it?), about Kristen’s transfer (Kristen was the woman from the office who I decided was transferred from the sales division to Human Resources), and about how happy Mom and Dad are now that they’ve finally moved down to Florida. Of course, there were times when I almost made some mistakes. For example, when my “friend” brought up politics, how was I supposed to know that I was a lifelong Republican? Either way, it was certainly nothing that I wasn’t able to talk my way out of (“Since when am I a Democrat? Well…hold on…Tommy, how many times do I have to tell you to leave your brother alone?!…I don’t care! Just stop!…Yeah I’m back. Sorry about that. So what were we talking about? Oh yeah, my new car. Wait. Did I tell you that I bought a new car? Yeah, I bought a new car. A Honda Civic.”)
There was nothing at stake though with the phone calls. If the people who called me by accident were able to figure out that I’m psychotic by pretending to be someone else, they would just say, “Fuck you” and hang up. But the girl at Off The Wagon had a face. A really cute face. Why then, of all times, when I had the ability to bullshit and actually GET SOMETHING OUT OF IT would I suddenly become a decent human being? I don’t like this new found feeling! Where did it come from? Did Jamie the bartender inject some sort of truth syrum into my beer? You must understand though that it doesn’t matter whether this girl looked like Janet Jackson or Sorry Miss Jackson. The issue of main importance here is the fact that if I had pretended to be Ryan, I can ASSURE you that she would’ve believed me!
Why do I take so much pride in my ability to bullshit? I’m not sure. Maybe the need to play the roles of other people in real life is me overcompensating for a career in acting that has been, so far, unsuccessful. I don’t know. I’ll leave the psychoanalysis to my recreational psychologist, Monique Soltani.
cc: Nolan Ryan
August 6, 2004