Friday, April 22, 2011


My second year of highschool I found myself at the center of a juicy rumor, a rumor that was so outlandish that it has prevailed my entire life.  Something said completely in jest took on a life of it's own and became part of my personal mythos, a fabricated reality born into this world through the twisted birth canal of adolescent gullibility.

It was like living with Kuato from Total Recall, some horrible siamese twin kept hidden beneath my shaker-knit, forever attached to me.

The irony is that I was a co-founder of this ruse, along with my pal James. It was meant to be a harmless one-time gag designed to prey upon the guileless naiveté of a particular feminine faction of our classmates. We jokingly discussed an experiment of sorts, like when Henry Frankenstein teamed with Doctor Pretorius. To be honest neither of us can remember the exact exchange that lead up to its creation, it was so insignificant that it was forgotten by us. But not by others. 

The seed lay dormant for weeks, until a member of the targeted group approached James in the hallowed halls after homeroom and nonchalantly inquired about me. The query may have been mere passing curiosity, or perhaps it was idle small talk to initiate a courting conversation with young James himself, but when I tell the tale, it was the probing of one possessed of the passion of unrequited love for yours truly. Whatever the reason, James remembered the too-long neglected plan and, putting personal gain aside, seized the opportunity to put it in motion. He took her aside, away from the rattle of rusted combination locks and hanging haze of ozone depleting hairspray, and in hushed tones, solemnly wove a tale of my sordid past. 

His solitary audience listened intently, entranced. Wide-eyed she nodded her head as the story unfolded during its inaugural telling, not interrupting except for clarification of words greater than three syllables. A gamut of emotions tattooed her smooth adolescent features: shock, awe, disgust, pity, excitement. But never disbelief. She was beguiled. James' convincing tale verily dripped snake oil liniment.

And then he put the bow on it. Looking his rapt co-conspirator straight in her vacant brown eyes, hand gently resting on her Esprit shoulder-pad, James said "You have to promise not to tell anyone. And whatever you do, never ever EVER ask him about it. He doesn't like to talk about it". And like Benjamin Franklin tying the key to the kite string, he let the kite take flight into the storm.

Lightening struck approximately 17 minutes later. I was at my locker, agonizing on important issues of immediacy: should I go to the 5-Pin to play Space Shuttle pinball, or the Sub Shop to master Karate Champ. I was startled out of my ruminations by the squeak of Jellies and the rustle of a lace trimmed tutu behind me. The incredibly cute girl didn't say anything at first, she just stared at me curiously, a fingerless mesh glove brushing her crimped hair out of her eyes. She bit her bottom lip, her nervousness almost palpable, but her curiosity trumped her trepidation and she blurted "Is it true?".

By way of response I squinted. It was a practiced squint that was open to interpretation. She quickly looked to see who was around, cupped the back of my neck and whispered her question in my ear. Her lips caressed my lobe, and I could feel her hot breath on my neck as she lingered longer than necessary. She stepped back and awaited my reply. The blank expression on my face was genuine. I had no idea how to respond. I caught a flicker of movement over the bright pink bow in her hair. It was James at the other end of the hall, proudly sporting a Cheshire Cat grin, waving frantically like a castaway trying to get the attention of a passing liner.

I realized the game was afoot, and it took every ounce of restraint not to laugh. I bit the inside of my cheek, closed my locker, gave her my best Great Sadness squint, and without a word, I walked away, knowing my silence would be interpreted as a deafening admission.

James and I had a good chuckle over the success of the experiment, proving the quickest way to spread gossip was to make someone promise not to tell. We high-fived our ingenuity and celebrated over a few rousing games of pinball, the incident quickly forgotten amidst the click of the flippers and the hypnotic lights of Space Shuttle.

When I returned to school for fifth period social endeavors, the green and white hallways were buzzing with more than typical scholastic ideals and angst. The whispers echoed off the waxed linoleum, carried from student body to student body. The winds of gossip had swelled to hurricane proportions. The collective gaze that followed me told me immediately what this was about. 

I was a little concerned. How was I going to correct this, stop further spread of this outrageous scuttlebutt?  This was big, out of control, and unexpected. What was also unexpected were the six girls phone numbers I discovered slipped into my locker, including one from the incredibly cute original recipient of this work of fiction. I smiled, deciding then and there not to say a goddamned thing.

That was 25 years ago. 8 months ago at an unofficial reunion of sorts an old classmate needed to know the truth, so she asked me: "Is it true?"

"Is it true you willingly participated and starred in a porno movie?". 

I smiled and didn't say a goddamned thing.

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