Many savvy readers were correct in suspecting that the April Fool's Day posting date of my quiz (not to mention its title) indicated that something was queer about this one. (And not just the author.)
As several commenters surmised, all 12 statements contained truth. In two cases, however — one inadvertent — the truth was only partial. Read on to find out which statements diverged from actuality, and to find out who won the chocolate.
1. I first encountered Peter in an AOL chatroom and we met in person a month later at a vegetarian diner which has since closed. TRUE. Even though we found out that for years we'd both been spending a lot of time at 39 West 14th Street — me on the 5th floor for Alexander school, Peter on the 2nd floor for activities with a not-for-profit group on whose board he served — we first encountered each other virtually via AOL. Our mutual attraction deepened over the ensuing weeks, during which we talked on the phone between our homes (his in Chelsea, mine 166 blocks farther uptown in Washington Heights). Finally, on Wednesday, January 8th, 2003, we had our first real date — in those ancient days before video conferencing and phone cameras, it was a blind date — at the Veg City Diner, just a few doors down from 39 West 14th, which left a big void in the eating options of our neighborhood by closing a couple of years later and converting into a(nother frigging) nail salon.
|This is how we looked in those early days of our relationship. Peter has since trained me out of wearing light-colored foundation garments under sheer dark outer clothes.|
2. When my hair is long it is luxuriantly curly and was once complimented by Broadway legend Chita Rivera at a fund-raiser dinner. TRUE. You can see from the pictures above and below that my hair, currently cropped very short, is actually quite curly. (I didn't realize myself that I had curly hair until I started growing it out for the first time in about 2001.) And, yes, Ms Rivera did toss me a compliment as she passed us in a hallway on her way into the dining room where the fund-raiser was being held.
|Not a wig. And not what I was wearing when Chita acknowledged the splendor of my locks.|
3. As a child, I had imaginary friends named Duncan and Solly. TRUE. I don't actually remember this, but my mother has since told me about my "playmates." Nowadays, of course, nearly all of my friends are real.
4. I once injured my knee while performing the role of "Jacob" in La Cage aux Folles on Rollerblades. MOSTLY TRUE. I wish I had some pictures of this production to show you; the costumes were a lot of fun. I particularly enjoyed wearing the floor-length aquamarine sequined number in my opening scene. (I was nowhere near as stylish or elegant as Cathy, though.) I'd listed on my audition sheet that I could rollerblade, and the director thought it would be fun to use that skill on stage, so he had me on skates for the scene in which Georges and Albin de-gay their house and have their son's fiancee's straight-laced parents over for dinner. I (or my character) also butched it up for this dinner party by trading in the beaded gowns for a Louis XIV-era butler's costume, complete with brocaded vest and powdered wig.
At the time of this production, I was living with a boyfriend who was not out to his family, and when they'd come to visit, we'd have to do what we eventually came to call "La-Cage-ing" the apartment to eradicate all signs that gay men were living there. Except for the one rather obvious and ineradicable sign of the two cohabiting men. I am pretty sure that we were fooling no one.
But, my dear readers, it was actually my SHOULDER I injured, when I crashed at high speed into a fellow actor who had diverged from our meticulous blocking. I had to have physical therapy for weeks; lucky for me I was working as office manager in a physical therapy clinic at the time. This statement was the INTENDED falsehood, so if you guessed #4, you're in the running for chocolate.
5. In high school I chipped the same front tooth twice by banging it with a huge beer stein during Oktoberfest. I sneaked one of these steins out under my coat and still use it to store my cooking utensils. TRUE. It wasn't so clear from my original sentence, but the 2 dental accidents occurred on separate occasions. The chip, originally quite obvious, has smoothed down over the years, but you can still barely make out how my right front tooth is slanted along its right bottom edge:
|Prost! So ein Bier....und so ein Dummkopf.|
6. After winning an All-Army talent competition by singing "Tonight" from West Side Story with my dear friend Toni, I was denied the opportunity to participate in the touring show of winners by my commander, who intensified my disappointment by telling me that if it had been for an athletic competition, they'd have authorized my leave of absence without a second thought. TRUE. Thanks, Lieutenant Colonel Horn. You couldn't have just said that the unit couldn't afford to let me go on tour for that long because my skills were needed to support the mission. Noooooo, you had to make me feel like a big inadequately masculine artsy-fartsy pansy. (Oh dear, am I projecting here?)
The really sick part is that despite — because of? — this incident, I had a huge crush on LTC Horn that has not yet completely dissipated. I can still get all worked up imagining his booming voice calling "Lieutenant Hanko, get in here!" from down the hall.
7. I often cut my PB&J sandwiches in bite-sized chunks, which I put into a mug, drown in milk, and eat with a spoon. TRUE. I was amused to see that in the midst of all the unorthodoxy I wrote about, it was my way of enjoying my favorite snack that aroused the most indignation. I used to create my preferred soggy texture by biting off each piece of PB&J, holding it my mouth, and drinking a sip of milk through it. Don't you think the alternative I've described in #7 is more genteel? My apologies to all of you who hoped against hope that this was the lie. Given everyone's sensitivity, I guess I'll never share how I used to enhance bowls of cereal by breaking cookies or other baked goods over the top. Oops — sorry!
8. I never once touched the ball during a game in 2 seasons of league soccer my parents forced me to play "in order to be well-rounded." HUMILIATINGLY TRUE. Bless my parents; their intentions were loving if misguided; I just did not have the background required to effectively contribute to team sports. Somehow, all those scales at the piano had done nothing to develop my foot-eye coordination or the strength in my quads.
9. I have written a lot of poetry in sonnet form to commemorate important people and events in my life, including That Stupid Cat, a post-mortem tribute to a beloved pet named Big Kitty. PARTIALLY TRUE. When I wrote #9, it failed to occur to me that this poem had been written during a period during which I was experimenting with forms other than the sonnet, so I made an inadvertent untruth. Therefore, if you picked #9, you're also in the running for chocolate.
Here's my poem, definitely not a sonnet. I wrote it on the train home from work on the day my then-partner had informed me in a phone call to my workplace that he would have to take our 18-year-old cat to the vet the next day to be put to sleep. Notice how the metrical structure of the lines of each stanza grows, cancer-like, to overwhelm the scansion, until the cancer dies along with the cat — and the relationship of his owners — in the last stanza. (I didn't say my experiments with form were particularly subtle.)
that stupid cat
that stupid cat we always said
when he would howl or walk across your face in bed
or stalk the laundry pile, drag my briefs across the floor;
tomorrow night that cat will be no more.
that stupid cat when will he die?
we always groaned while vacuuming the hairs that turned our home into a sty,
calculating that he must have reached life eight if not yet nine,
nonetheless still marveling how he looked completely fine.
that stupid cat we never knew
was dying from the inside out with no external clue:
the kidneys slowly ceased to cleanse his blood—
still his heart beat; he ate and shat; his hearing remained good.
that stupid cat one day just snapped:
began to falter when he walked, ignored his food, and far too often napped.
those were the first signs we could see
of years of insidiously waning health—internal rot—had the cat known more
that stupid cat they’ll euthanize;
we’ll sadly mourn our loss, then blot our reddened eyes
that weep for us as much as him, that stupid, sweet, and gentle cat,
who did outlive the love of those upon whose laps he sat.
in memory of big kitty, who drove us crazy until 9/22/95
10. Up through at least middle school age, I would often fantasize that I was actually a fairy in human form, and was doing my best to pass unrecognized in public for fear of being persecuted by jealous "normals" for my powers and differences. TRUE. Unbelievably prescient I was, even though at that age, I'd never heard of the other, more disparaging use of the term "fairy" or suspect that it would ever be applied to me.
11. During basic training, I contracted some sort of disease that was tentatively and probably incorrectly diagnosed as Lymes, and woke from a 3-day coma to not recognize my own family members, who were assembled around my bed, wondering if I'd ever come to. TRUE. The one benefit that came of this trauma was that it excused me from a good chunk of my basic training. Even in the gung-ho Army, being confined to a bed with an IV-drip precludes crawling through mud wearing a gas mask in 106-degree heat. Or lobbing live grenades at photos of Boy George. The really good news was that I had not missed enough days of my
I don't know if my sister Sara has ever forgiven me for causing the family to use up our whole vacation fund for that year on their urgent drop-of-the-hat flight to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, for what turned out not to be their last chance to see me alive after all. Sorry, sis!
12. One of my earliest kitchen experiments — inflicted upon my family multiple times during my adolescence — was "pizza soup," which was Campbell's tomato soup enhanced with more or less palatable additions of my own choosing. TRUE. I didn't know it then, but those experiments were the origins of Pleasing My Palate, even though very few palates were being pleased through my efforts at the time. How far one can come in only 25 years!
QUIZ CONTEST RESULTS:
So, in my leniency, I'm going to enter into the running for the chocolate bar anyone who answered #4 or #9 as well as anyone who guessed that all the answers were true. (If you listed more than 1 answer, I went with your first response. Said leniency is not without limits.) Here are the qualifying commenters in the order in which they responded:
- Debbie Cook
Peter's right across the room, so I'm going to enlist him as a random number generator.
Me: Hey, Peter, give me a number between 1 and 6.
Peter: 4. Why?
Me: You just picked the winner of my contest — Treadle27!
So, Treadle27, congratulations! (Now I bet you are REALLY jumping up and down with excitement.) Please email me your mailing address and your preference for plain, almonds roasted in olive oil, nibs, maple pecan, or sea salt. (I love them all, but am most blown away by the almond one.)
And thank you, everyone, for participating in my first contest!