Not the Same as Lies*: The LAguide to the Art of Crafting Your Alternative History
We received quite a crop of Holiday letters this year. It seems that more and more, close friends, relatives, and people we barely know are sharing their intimate details by sending a holiday letter. For the most part, the letters were pretty tame. Cousin Aram’s daughter, Sue, graduated from College and will be working for a PR firm in Pittsburgh; Uncle Phil is going back to Southern Italy for the winter, mostly so he can complain about the prices. My friend Marty took another job—I believe it is his fifteenth in as many years— and three or four friends are ripe enough for Medicare. The news from the other side of the family was certainly stranger, but no less predictable—Bobby’s twins are on work release and hope to be home for good in a year or two, Phyllis is back at the clinic—the one that specializes in treating multiple addictions, Carl, Marvin and Cynthia are still not working (I can’t remember that they ever did), and of course Carol is pregnant with what must be her 12th.
What we were really looking forward to was the letter from my cousin Edith. Edith is about my age and has worked as a CPA for some 30 years. Last year she wrote the usual this and that, but ended the letter by saying she had been to Nepal in December to climb Mt. Everest. We were a little surprised at the time, as Edith has been confined to a wheel chair for the past fifteen years. This year Edith reports that her daughter Edwina got her second Nobel Prize in Physics —this time for communicating with God using string theory, while her husband, Melvin—who is also a CPA—will be Secretary General of the United Nations in 2013. She also wrote that her son Billy, who as I recall could not tie his shoes until he was twelve, was granted a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award and would soon retire from the shoe store he was managing at the local mall. Unsurprisingly, my Great Uncle Arthur, a hatchet faced man well into his twelfth or thirteenth decade of life who picks up on everything, wrote that he had been out to the Little Big Horn to visit the battlefield where he received his life threatening wounds and Medal of Honor in June of 1876.
I called Edith yesterday to find out what was going on. She is calling herself Marilyn now and planning a movie career. “I was a little bored with my life,” she said “so I started reading memoirs as a way of getting into other people’s lives.” I shook my head sadly (not that she could see me do it). We all know that a memoir is just a collection of lies, so extensive, that it has reached book length. “I realized that I could lie about my life at least as well as most of the authors I had been reading, so I decided to invent an alternative universe,” she said. Edith then started to sing a sultry “Happy Birthday,” and I hung up as fast as I could.
Surveys show that a startling 324% of Americans are unhappy with their lives—heritage, history, and careers. To help them join Cousin Edith and Uncle Arthur and escape their mundane existence, we, at Stevieslaw, are pleased to publish: “Not the Same as Lies: The Less-intelligent-than-average American Guide to the Art of Crafting Your Alternative History.” In the guide, you will learn to distinguish lying from constructing an “unmemoir”—a form of daydream writing that will allow you to craft your best Holiday letter ever. So what if your entire family of cost accountants have lived within four blocks of each other in Hartford since the beginning of recorded history and have travelled no farther from home then to New Haven to see a minor league baseball game in 1961, the guide will show you how to become exciting. For example, you can recreate your:
1. Heritage: Make mom and dad warriors of the Lakota Sioux, who both fought the cavalry for more than 50 years.
2. History: You weren’t born at Hartford General, but were the first child born on the Nuclear Submarine, Nautilus. Describe your interaction with Hyman Rickover, the father of the nuclear submarine fleet, and your continuing correspondence with Jules Verne
3. Career: Tired of being the CPA of CPAs? Why not be a world famous writer, singer/songwriter, or actor? Instantly become the next Ray Bradbury, Elliot Smith or Jack Black.
4. Offspring: Could it be that your quintuplets were all admitted to Harvard Medical at the age of three. Why not?
5. Travel: Weren’t you the first to vacation on Titan—Saturn’s most romantic moon?
You can even use the LAG’s interactive features if you have no imagination. Just enter a few key words and Voila—there you are. The possibilities are endless. Buy the guide and expand your horizons! It is on sale soon worldwide in a new and improved deluxe plus edition. And, in a preview of our next Holiday letter, we would like to thank all the little people for buying and reading the LAguide series. Without our forty million fans, we would not have received our second Pulitzer Prize in Journalism this year.
*See “Dreaming,” by Amanda McBroom (or the Judy Collins version).