I was a very gullible kid. The more fantastic the lie, the more likely I was to take it as gospel. My first grade report card reads, "Matthew has trouble distinguishing between 'Fantasy' and 'Reality'." Isn't that what being an American is all about? My imagined universe was hardly different from any half-hour of TV. And my histrionics gave the other kids an immediate thrill watching me freak out over their outrageous lies.
My friend Albert was a self-proclaimed authority on everything. He was in third grade, a full year older than me, and never let me forget it. On the way home from school one day, Albert told me a fantastic bit of news. Space Aliens had landed in the baseball field behind our suburban town hall that very afternoon! I was shocked. No one had mentioned it earlier that day. He told me not to worry because they had come in peace. They were going to give mankind the power to travel freely among the stars! A sigh of relief escaped my lips as I waved goodbye to my best buddy. I broke out into a run so I could go home and tell my mother she could sell the car. We were getting a spaceship!
My mom was in the kitchen. Without waiting to catch my breath, I blurted out that aliens had landed behind town hall. My mother didn't even look up. I misread her uninspired response as shock. I quickly assured her these the aliens were friendly.
"Who told you this?" She looked up at me, incredulous. Didn't she realize that the Earth was to be saved? I imagined my new alien jet-pack I could fly to school with. "You can't be serious," she added.
"It's true!" I yelled, but she wasn't buying any of it. My own mother! In the end it took her over an hour to convince me that I had been lied to. I reluctantly started to accept the truth only after turning on the TV and checking the news. There was no mention of aliens at all. Anywhere. Nothing more had dropped out of the sky than birdpoop on the baseball field.
One day at lunch, some kids at school went out to play in a tiny wooded patch behind the baseball field. Inside this innocuous looking glade I was about to be subjected to a horror I would never forget.
"See those tree branches over there?" Some older kid pointed to a bunch of dead sticks off in the dense underbrush. "That's where David Bowie is buried!"
"Who?" I asked.
"David Bowie was a really tough cowboy in the olden days. Do you know what a Bowie knife is?"
"It's a really big knife, and David Bowie invented it. If you tell anyone where he's buried, his knife will come out of his grave and hunt down every member of your family." He made a timeless gesture across his throat, "slitin' their throats!" Frightened, I nodded my head and vowed never to reveal the true burial spot of David Bowie. I ran out of the copse, and didn't look back.
Word must have gotten around that I was an easy mark. Maybe I might have not been as freaked out about rampaging cutlery if I had realized that David Bowie was still very much alive and probably making out with Mick Jagger at that very moment. I guess the kid had meant to curse me with the spirit of Daniel Bowie, hero of the Alamo, and not David. If I had been smart enough to know the difference, I would have realized that David Bowie would be too zoned out to be a threat to anyone. Well, maybe if he rustled up a rusty needle and runs around screaming his lines from Dune.
Later that day, my parents asked if anything interesting had happened at school. I tried to change the subject, but they persisted. I said that I couldn't tell them what I had done that day and it would be best for everyone if nobody asked me any more questions. I loved my parents and didn't want to see them dead on the ground, throats slashed, bodies pale from the loss of blood. They persisted. I started to sweat. David Bowie's mutilated corpse danced in front of my eyes, blaming me for his betrayal. My dad threatened me with a loss of television privileges. The knife of Daniel Bowie burst from the copse and crept along the sunny, suburban streets of New Jersey, cutting a swath of terrible vengeance.
Left with little choice, (How could I miss the Six-Million Dollar Man?) I spilled my guts and told them how I stumbled across the grave of a great Western Hero. I burst into tears screaming, "Now you've done it! David Bowie's knife is gonna get us all!" They laughed. It was horrible. How could they just shrug off the dreaded curse? In desperation, I ran to my room and slammed the door and hid in the closet. Obviously the adults in the household weren't going to take any precautions defending themselves against the renegade blade. Maybe its bloodlust would be satiated by the other members of my family before it sucked the life juices from my body. My mother startled me as she came into the room. She gently explained that it was impossible for a knife to go after anyone by itself, since it wasn't even alive. She also explained that David Bowie was a singer in a rock band, and not from the wild west. He wasn't even dead. I poked my head out of the closet. My mom had a bitchin' collection of 8-track tapes and would probably know these things. I did however, keep an eye out for any ghoulish, strung out men wielding an animate, rhinestone-studded hunting knife for the next few days. You never know.
During one recess that spring of first grade, two of my "friends" informed me that the Earth was going to turn upside down that midnight. Everyone was going to fall off the planet! They told me not to worry though, because everyone would safely float to Venus. Well, everyone but me and my family. It took a minute for the whole enormity of the situation to sink in. My family... Alone on an upside-down, depopulated Earth! Couldn't anyone help my poor family?
I ran to Mrs. Cruzen, my first grade teacher, and my family's only hope.
"M-Mrs. Cruzen? (sob, sob) M-M-M (sob)rs. Cruzen? E-Eric and David said th-that the world was gonna turn upside down and all the people are gonna go to Venus and...." She was giving me that blank look. I began to suspect that she already selected a prime Venusian glade for her new home, but I continued.
"Everyone is falling to V-Venus but my family! You've got to do something!" I burst into tears.
Then the teacher started yelling at me, "How can you believe something so stupid?" I tried to argue with her. How could she be so POSITIVE the world wouldn't turn upside down AT THAT VERY MOMENT? As her temper flared and her face turned red, I became convinced she was definitely hiding something from me. Fed up with my "antics" she sent me back to the classroom, alone to ponder my fate.
Now I know better. But I must tell everyone on the Internet to watch out! Why? My friend Joe, who knows everything, just told me yesterday that next week, all the dogs in the world are going to go psycho. It's true! He said that roving packs of every kind of dog will get together and eat your face off if they catch you outside. And if you own a dog, you gotta put it to sleep or else it'll eat you. I swear! I should know, I'm 25.
Solo Drinking Games For the Alcoholic
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