Thursday, January 3, 2008
Happy New Year?
For anybody who thought that my ability to be idiotic wasn’t stronger than the weather, I offer New Year’s as proof. The weather in New York was below freezing, and beneath my jacket I wore just a button-down shirt. When I arrived at a party on Manhattan's Upper West Side, I took off my jacket and began drinking a Jack and Coke. Followed by a Jack on the rocks. Then, just Jack. Before long, I was making outrageous claims to anybody who would listen (I used to live on a fishing boat, I’m running for public office, etc), and standing on the balcony in my very spilled-on, very thin shirt. While everybody else was wearing overcoats, I overcame the elements with a cunning combination of alcohol and talking loudly. I ushered in January 1, 2008 with daring abandon.
I got really, really sick on January 2nd. I could hardly breathe out of my nose, my sinuses were pushing out of eyes, and my skull felt ready to explode horizontally. My voice was hoarse, and I couldn’t sleep. My lone venture out of the house was for vitamins and miso soup. A waitress at the Japanese restaurant recognized me, and, as I collected my two helpings of soup and vegetable dumplings, she said, “You look really pale. It must be cold outside.” Not wanting to engage in conversation—and only able to speak in groans and mucous—I whispered, “Yeah, it’s cold,” took my food, and went home. As I crawled into bed and laid wide awake and coughing until five in the morning, I told myself that things could not get worse.
I got really, really sick today, January 3rd. All the original symptoms were either the same or worse, and I also developed an inter-cranial pounding that made every minute of every hour feel like a bad club in Tel Aviv. My joints ached. My eyes were half-squinted (I have an issue with keeping my eyes fully open in the first place—we’ve termed this DES: Droopy Eye Syndrome), and I was sweating like a porn star because I was so over-hydrated. Worst of all, I’d only gotten back one grade from this past semester, so I had nothing better to do than sit in front of the computer and press “refresh,” hoping for some good news. By the close of business hours, all I had was an earache.
Maybe it’s the DayQuil, maybe it’s that I finally put on pants, or maybe all the Vitamin C supplements are finally kicking in, but I feel remotely energized for the first time in a while. There are napkins in my nostrils and sad Neil Young songs have a strange, comforting appeal, but hope exists for the first time since I told someone at the New Year’s party that I hope to travel to Madgascar to ask the natives whether being included in the game “Risk” has boosted national morale.
In my heightened state, I got to wondering if, perhaps, my illness is cosmic payback for telling so many people so many untrue facts about myself at the party. I rationalize my tall-taledness by pointing out that, a) none of what I say could in any way harm or offend myself or others; and, b) my lies are always so outrageous and unbelievable that no sane person would believe them. The first half of that rationale has proven true, as I have yet to damage somebody either with something I say or with the revelation that what I’m saying is not true. The second, however, is not always the case. Last year, a woman I’d just met, a kindergarten teacher from Seattle, believed me when I said that I controlled the Mars Rover. I added that I spent my days in a cramped, dark room with graphing paper and calculus problems, and used a joystick to move the Rover according to my calculations. She thought I was quite remarkable.
I don’t think I’m pathological, for a few reasons. First, I don’t feel compelled or driven to lie—I lie out of choice. Second, I don’t lie about trifling details. I’d never say I was 23 instead of 22, I’d never say I was born in the spring instead of the summer, nor would I tell people that I had a different major. Anything picayune or even basic gets the truth treatment. I only tell completely outsized, ridiculous lies, and with regards to minimally important matters. Last, I don’t lie to people who are close to me. I might spin a tale at a party full of strangers, but I would never, for instance, tell my roommates that I paid the rent if I hadn’t.
I don't tell lies. I tell whoppers. They’re absurd. Totally transparent. No reason to stop.
Stay Sick, Me