Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Betina's Secret Life. . . Revealed

Ever found yourself at a cocktail party where you hardly know anyone and everyone seems intent on intimidation? So-and-so has just been promoted to managing partner of a Big Eight accounting firm, the guy on your right has just been tapped to be Ambassador of Lichenstein, and the woman looking down her nose at your Liz Claiborne best is the editorial director of "W?" Well truthfully, neither have I. But in case I do find myself in that position, I am prepared. Following the advice of a Glamour magazine article I clipped a generation or two ago. . . I intend to lie my butt off.

Yes, yes. I can hear the creaking of spines as my fellow riders shake their heads in dismay. But truly, a well crafted and patently outrageous lie will sometimes do what no amount of earnestness and self revelation can. . . allow you to have a good time under extreme circumstances.

I've had my "big lie" in the holding pen for. . . um. . . a few years now. And at the rate I'm going, I'll probably still be holding it when I reach the Pearly Gates. (And I do not mean Bill's maiden aunt.) So here it is:

This woman. . . the queen of the mud flaps and the object of universal trucker lust. . .

is me.

It's true. In my youth, I had a brief, somewhat harrowing episode as a silhouette model. It was the same, sad old story: I met a guy in a campus bar and after a few too many diet-and-whatevers, he took me back to his place and put up a sheet and turned on a light. I giggled my way through that first degrading session. . . confusing being ogled and outlined with the beginnings of true love. Soon he was plying me with spiked Tab and Jimi Hendricks music. When I couldn't hold myself up any more, he propped me up and sprayed my hair stiff to get a few more silhouettes out of me. Then he took me back to my dorm and pushed me out of the car, and sped away.

I had no way of knowing he was a fly-by-night graphics dealer posing as an art student. He was slick-- I'll give him that. He realized right away that he had a potential gold mine on his hands. He began selling my silhouettes to cheesy print shops and rubber auto accessory manufacturers. Imagine my shock when I was driving down the highway with my respectable fiance three years later and looked up to find my silhouette-- my precious, innocent art-- decorating the mud flaps of a tractor trailer filled with Smack Ramen Noodles! And suddenly they were everywhere!

Now, as successful author, I've finally made peace with it. Sometimes, when I hit a truck stop by the interstate and see myself reclining all over those trucks' federally mandated mud flaps, I feel a small spot of warmth in my stomach. I have indeed made a difference in the world. . .

Cough, cough.

The advantage of this particular "big lie" is its versatility. I can change the story to include a number of sessions comprising a whirlwind affair-- so as not to seem too cheap. I can also claim that it was MY art-- that I produced quite a few silhouettes, which I misguidedly sold to a duplicitous art gallery owner. I can play the wounded "artiste." "There are a number of mud flaps that I'm very proud of. . ."

The aim of the "Big Lie" is entertainment in the face of stultifying boredom or staggering one-upmanship. Not to be taken seriously. . . until you're too old and too senile to remember that it's a "big lie" and you just begin to believe and enjoy it as the truth!

What about you? Don't you think it's about time you invented an alternative past for yourself? Or maybe several? With a writer's imagination, you ought to be able to come up with something really good! Care to share?


lois greiman said...

Betina, you are the best and wisest person I know.

Lying--absolutely. Such a useful but misunderstood tool. In my little world I have found the truth to be both boring and overused.

It's a fictional world. Let's use it.

And oh, by the way, I'm Catwoman.

Christie Ridgway said...

Years ago I made an unintentional lie that I didn't know how to back away from. I was going to college with some very wealthy Southern California girls (I grew up in Northern California...world of difference) and they were talking about the chi chi spas their mothers had visited, including The Golden Door (which is a very, very luxurious spa that happens to be just north of where I am now and was one of the first of its kind. A week's stay is almost $8K).

I didn't know this! I was just a girl from NoCal suburbia. But 5-chair salon where my mom had her weekly standing hair appointment was none other than...The Golden Door. So I said my mom went there too.

When I realized there was a difference, it was too late!

Cindy Gerard said...

Betina thanks to you I realize I've been lying with my expectations way too low. I always try to convince people that I'm 5'7", 110# soaking wet and model for Vogue. When I'm standing there in my size chubby looking up at someone who's 5' 4" I can see now why they simply blink and walk away, unimpressed. From now on I'm shooting for loftier lies. Obviously I need help. Ideas anyone?

Cindy Gerard said...

BTW: that's 5' 7" not 57 :o)

Debra Dixon said...

When they are telling me what big powerful people they are and what they do, I tilt my head, raise one eyebrow and say, "Really?" And then huff out a surprised, "Huh."

As though the world just doesn't have any standards anymore.

Betina Krahn said...

Lois-- Catwoman! It makes perfect sense! And you'd give Halle Berry a real run for her money!

Christie, I've had a few stretches of truth that I got stuck with. The one about my uncle being a colorful wrestler for the WWF back in the olden days. . . a sad, "slo-gin" soaked attempt to garner male attention in a bar with college friends. Somehow the story grew legs and my grown sons still think they have WWF in their blood. (Sorry to break the news to you this way, guys!)

Cindy, dear, the big lie is always best. Try telling them that you were 5'9" and 110. . . had a promising modeling career with the Ford Agency. . . until the accident. If they're so crass that they actually ask questions about the alleged accident. . . mention two broken legs. . . they had to cut chunks of bone out. . . the muscle reattachment was agony. Mention that the scars are why you always wear pants. (Remember NOT to use this one when you're wearing shorts; gives the whole thing away!)

((I think there was a Lifetime movie about that sometime. The stuff they have on that channel and on Oxygen-- great "big lie" fodder. I'm thinking about trying for a writer gig with them if this publishing thing peters out!))

And you, Dixon-- leave it to you to come up with the best low-exertion comeback. Takes a lot less energy than the "big lie." Now we have TWO alternatives to stiff boredom!

:) Betina

Debra Dixon said...

Betina-- Oh, yeah it's a hoot to see those smug bastards start reassessing me, themselves, etc. And heaven help you if you call me "Honey, baby, sweetie" and you aren't related to me and you're a fat-white-I'm-entitled jerk in a suit.

Wayne has been heard to utter, "Oh no." under his breath.

Helen Brenna said...

I was once married to George Clooney. Had I only known ...

Christie Ridgway said...

Deb: Love the surprised, "Huh." Priceless!

Betina Krahn said...

George Clooney? Hey guys-- we got a celebrity in our midst! Helen was once married to George Clooney!!! Of course it would give you a whole different flavor if you claimed you're going to be his "last" wife. heh, heh.

Ooooooh, Deb. I'm with you on the "Honey" "Sugar," "Baby" business. But I have to say, anybody so dumb as to "dis" YOU like that really deserves to find himself flat on his back spitting out bicuspids!

:) Betina

anne frasier said...

ohmygod, betina! that's wonderful!!

haha! i wuv you.

Betina Krahn said...

Glad I could brighten your day, Anne!

Hey, haven't you got a "big lie" or two in your bag of tricks?

:) Betina

anne frasier said...

you've inspired me to come up with a big lie. haven't gotten one yet, but i'm working on it!