Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"An Unexpected Discovery"

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:


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 wasn’t.

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 –


That’s right.

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. 

1 comment:

Joe Pants said...

There was another post that I questioned its veracity - remember the one about wearing your pants inside out? I forget the details but I do recall at the time I read it I thought there is no way that was possible...but again, if it was true, you must FOCUS! And by the by, fiction is fine. Check, you did it for lots of years and made a very nice living at it. Blog doesn't mean TRUTH..does it?