I feel a compelling need to come clean.
This is a first for me. (Not feeling a compelling need to come clean. I always feel a compelling need to come clean. That is substantially what writing is about. At least for those feeling a compelling need to come clean.)
I cannot definitively attest – you know, like with a Notary Public, a thumbprint and a stamp – that this has never happened before. I am almost certain it hasn’t, but I have no corroborative backup. I do admit sometimes fantasizing about someone poring over my work and writing their PhD. dissertation on “The Blog Writings Of Earl Pomerantz.” But that may be serious imaginatorial overreach.
PhD. EXAMINER: “You have chosen to write your dissertation on ‘The Blog Writing Of Earl Pomerantz.”
PhD. CANDIDATE: “I have.”
PhD. EXAMINER: “My first question is ‘Why?’”
Okay, here it is. A painful but necessary admission.
Yesterday, I wrote a post about going to this coffee place and, due to an oversight resulting from habitual behavior, I accidentally dropped a five dollar bill into the “Tip Jar” when I had intended to drop a “One.”
Straight-out confession with no weasly pussyfooting around:
That did not happen.
I have just checked, and this is my 1714th blog post. And I can assure you – as best as one can assure without actually knowing for certain – that this is the first time I have ever written a fabricated story and presented it as the truth. The absolute first!
I am virtually certain of that.
Yes, I fool around sometimes and write a post about two warthogs talking, or whatever.
WORTHOG: “You’re ugly.”
ANOTHER WORTHOG: “You’re ugly too.”
WORTHOG: “Hey, maybe if we’re all ugly, then we are all actually beautiful.”
ANOTHER WORTHOG: “No. Some warthogs are uglier than others.”
But I have never tried to pass off such flights of anthropomorphical fancy as actual warthog conversation. Not that I ever bothered making the distinction. I respect my readership too much to offer a clarifying disclaimer:
THE FOLLOWING IS NOT ACTUAL WORTHOG DIALOGUE. I MADE THE ENTIRE THING UP FOR ALLEGORICAL EFFECT.
This time, however, it’s different. This time, I related what I represented as an actual personal experience. And it wasn’t.
Oh, the humiliation! Oh, the shame!
And therefore, oh, the confession, as soon as I could get back to you.
The majority of what I related did indeed take place. I only actually changed one thing. Which is not a lot in the overall assemblage of factual specifics. I will admit, however, that the one thing I changed is the thing that makes the story worth telling in the first place. So yeah, that is not a small thing.
Here’s what actually happened.
I walked over to Groundwork. Taking a “Ten” instead of a “Five”, because I did not have a “Five” in my wallet (and I did not take my whole wallet because it’s heavy and having it in my pocket strongly increases the chances of an exercise pants “Drop-down.”)
I get my coffee, I hand over the “Ten”, and when I get my change, I drop a bill into the “Tip Jar.”
As I walked out, however, I became suddenly agitated that I had mistakenly dropped a “Five” into the “Tip Jar” instead of the habitual “One.” I had no actual proof that I hadn’t, because when I dropped the bill into the “Tip Jar’” – the behavior being habitual – I did not actually look.
It could have been a “Five.’ And for an upsetting interlude, l was absolutely certain it was.
The thing is,
It was a “One.” That I Nervous Nellily believed was a “Five.” Though to this day – hand on the Bible or book of equal intimidation – I am, in fact, not entirely sure what it was. Still, I wrote my story as if I knew it was a “Five.” (Did I not check my change later? I was honestly too aggravated to.)
The only redeeming insight from this regrettable debacle is an “Unexpected Discovery.”
By changing one event in an otherwise accurate narrative, I had just written – and simultaneously discovered the essential nature of –
The thing I never write, do not much enjoy reading, and in no way aspire to write…
I had just written.
(Passing it off as the truth. Oh, the humiliation! Oh, the shame! Again.)
My newly discovered definition of fiction: A logical likelihood that didn’t happen.
You amass a bunch of credible elements, but you “massage” them a little, so it’ll be a better story. That’s fiction.
Do I have a rationalization for this inexcusable deception? I was looking to effectively dramatize a concept. The “Tip Jar” incident is an identifiable exemplification of “The Downside of Habitualism.”
It just didn’t happen. And there is no excuse for that in a blog whose reputation is based on stories that did.
It’s funny. While I was writing, I was exclusively focused on telling the story the best way I could. I had written a First Draft the day before, believing I was eighty percent finished. When I returned the next day, it took another three hours to complete.
Congratulations. You worked very hard on hoodwinking the public.
Okay, I deserve that.
Did it never concern you that you were foisting a fabrication on an unwitting readership?
The disturbing part is the thought never crossed my mind. It’s like I was hypnotized. I was totally concentrated on the writing.
I have transgressed, and I ask your forgiveness. (Yom Kippur is just around the corner.) I promise you, I will never do it again.
Now excuse me while I open a window, to drive the stench of disgrace out my office.