Weekend assignment #209 – Lies, all lies!

The Weekend Assignment is posted each Friday at Outpost Mâvarin; a roundup of responses goes up the following Thursday, so if you’d like to join in, you’ve still got some time.

April Fool’s Day is coming! Are you all set to trick your friends and relatives with some elegant and elaborate hoax?

Me neither.

Nevertheless, in honor of April 1st, the BBC spaghetti harvest, NPR’s exploding maple trees and the whoppers told by certain political candidates and their detractors, let’s exercise our capacity to tell each other some original, harmless fiction:

Weekend Assignment #209: Tell us a story about yourself, something that is plausible but definitely, outrageously false, while containing a kernel of truth. Since we don’t want to create any work for Snopes.com, begin your tale with the words, “This is not true,” and don’t say anything defamatory about any companies, products, celebrities or politicians.

Oh, yikes. Creative writing is so not my thing. That’s why I blog. I can write an essay or an editorial pretty well (if I say so myself), but a story? Fiction? This one’s going to be a challenge, so let’s just jump in and make it as quick and painless as possible. Here goes:

This is not true. I seem to have an unlikely gift for avoiding traffic citations. This may because I’m small, female, and usually sincerely confused and distressed when confronted by police. There was the time that I was pulled over for an expired tag, and was able to produce it at the stop – it was in my glove compartment, still attached to my current, paid-up registration, where it had been for almost six months. (Oh, yeah, I was supposed to detach the tag and put it on my license plate, wasn’t I? Oops.) There were a couple of self-reported rear-enders that I was never contacted about. And then there was the illegal U-turn that I pinned on my mom…

My family has a place in Northern California, in a small lakeside town between Mammoth and Lake Tahoe, where we’ve gone on vacations for years. A couple of summers ago, we were driving through town when Mom mentioned that she wanted to visit a friend’s gift shop. “Just remind me where it is,” I said.

“Oh, sorry, I think we passed it – it’s just back there, across the street,” she said.

Grumbling a little about the late notification, I checked for clearance, shifted over, and turned the car around, heading back down Main Street in the other direction. Of course, I had just come through the turn when I noticed the police car behind me, but I thought it was probably just coincidence. Unfortunately, the kids noticed too, and they turned around to watch. “I think the police car is following you,” came from the back seat.

“What for?” I replied, but I checked my mirror anyway, and eased over to the curb, just in case the cop was actually trying to pass me. No, he wasn’t; he stopped behind me, got out of the car, and walked up to us.

“Are you really pulling me over?” I asked him.

“Yes, I am,” he said. “License and registration, please.”

I took out my license, but as it happened, we were in Mom’s car, which required a little explanation – the fact that Mom was also in the car helped make that more convincing, I think. “So do you know why I pulled you over?” he asked.

“No clue,” I said.

“You made an illegal U-turn in a business district. Didn’t you see the double yellow line?” Now, this is a really small town, and the idea that it even has a “business district” is actually pretty funny. After ascertaining that the hometown on my license was near Los Angeles, he added, “You wouldn’t do that in Los Angeles.” (You couldn’t do it in Los Angeles; no one would let you through.)

“But my mom told me to turn around there!” I burst out.

“Yes, I did, Officer,” Mom spoke up. “Don’t you listen to your mother?”

“Not for awhile – she’s dead,” the officer replied.

But I guess he hadn’t heard that excuse many times – or at least not from a driver over the age of seventeen, let alone one clearly well over forty – because I was let off with a warning, and so was Mom.

So what’s not true? Every event in this story actually happened, but the names were changed to protect the guilty. The expired-tag incident happened exactly as described. My car was the on the receiving end of both rear-enders, so I wouldn’t have been ticketed for them anyway. And the illegal U-turn was perpetrated by my husband, not me, at the behest of his mother, not mine, but otherwise the details are pretty much the same. We all still give him grief about that one…

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