Unlike your fancy ancestors who came by ship, my father's side of the family immigrated to the United States via barrel.
Back then, my father explained, if you were different they wouldn't let you in -- and our guy was a midget. (I guess the salty folks at Ellis Island didn't want the country overrun with shorties.) Luckily, Great Grandpappy Fritz had a lot of people in his corner trying to figure out how to get him into the country, because he also happened to be a world-class jockey. That's right: I'm related to a world-class Bavarian jockey/midget who was smuggled into the country in a barrel. Eat your hearts out.
The tale may not be 100 percent true, but after Dad told it, my choices were to run around verifying its authenticity or let it stand as-is, and use it to pick up men in bars. (It hasn't worked yet, but I'm sure it will one day.)
I've been thinking about my fore-Fritzes and their proclivity for deception lately because I've been in charge of hiding this $500 Colorado Daily Rock for the past couple of weeks. The paper's been doing the Boulder Rocks! contest for years now, and every clue writer measures his or her worthiness against how long it takes to find the rock -- it requires a level of skill with misdirection. I hid it one week a couple of years ago and to my horror, it was found on Tuesday, instead of Friday.
I'm an embarrassment to liars everywhere and my poker face is a joke. I don't know why this basic facet of humanity eludes me. Maybe I blew my lifetime allotment of deception with The Big Lie.
At five, I was sent from the dinner table because I kept getting syrup in my bangs. I understand this brings up questions: what dinner food requires syrup, how long were these bangs and how the hell do you get syrup on the top of your head while eating? I invite you to have pancakes with me sometime and I'll show you. (They don't call me Buzzsaw for nuthin.)
Anyway, I went back to my room and realized there was hurdle: I didn't know how to work a rubber band, and there weren't any barrettes around. But I was a little problem-solver from the start and so I grabbed a pair of scissors and chopped the offending chunk of hair off at the root. When I returned to the table, my mother was pleased.
A few weeks later, when the hair had started to stick out from my forehead like a hay-colored horn, my mother was decidedly less thrilled. "What happened here?!" I quickly assessed my options and then informed her that my kid brother had accidentally cut my hair when we were playing arts and crafts earlier. I thought it was nice of me to make it sound like he hadn't done it on purpose, but 15 years later when I finally fessed up, Brian was still pissed about that spanking.
I would successfully lie two more times (once when telling Brian he was left on the doorstep by gypsies, and once when telling my little sister I'd switched her big toes -- "Remember? That one used to be over there," I'd said.) But since those early golden years, my ability to make shit up that other people will believe has taken a nosedive.
And I suppose that's not a bad thing to suck at, but when I tell my future children where they came from, I want them to take that barrel story as gospel, just like I did.