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Over Here: 42 - A Corker Of A Lie

Ron Pataky recalls how he fooled a teacher.

Although the cast of characters has been partially blocked by time, it was in this environment that I told my first (and I think, only) lie to a teacher. But it was a corker! The year was 1941. We lived in Bethesda at the time (where I was certain for a month or two thereafter that my picture would soon be on display in the local post office!).

I told the new teacher (actually, she was old/was new) that we'd recently had moved there from Alaska. Not just Alaska, mind you ... Northern Alaska, well beyond the Arctic Circle! Ohhh, boy! She, as it would turn out, was completely snookered by the detailed stories I volunteered, sharing every painful detail with my classmates, all of whom responded with appropriate oohs and aahs. (Alaska in those days was generally considered to be more remote than, say, the far-side drifts of Uranus are today). Not only that; I apparently regaled her with all manner of bone-chilling detail concerning the struggles we'd endured there merely to keep our heads above the floes, so to speak. Polar bears. Frostbite. Tiny huts of solid ice. Bloodthirsty Eskimo attacks. I apparently didn't miss a trick! My story, as Mom later told it, made Jack London and Robert Service sound like a couple of ditzy, hand-holding sissies locked in near-conjugal embrace in a grungy and freezing Sitka mens room!

The tale would eventually have turned out, no doubt, to be just another tall one spun by an overly-imaginative kid, except for one thing: The teacher bought it all — hook, line, bone, and blubber!

One can only imagine the first parent-teacher meeting that followed, when Miss Whatever-Her-Name-Was breathlessly approached my Mother, so recently delivered from the frozen gates of Hell itself, and inquired how our battered family was faring after our recent harrowing "escape" from the icy chill of the eerie, desolate, wind-whipped tundra. Having no advance warning whatsoever, my Mom, ever-honest and seldom hoodwinked herself, informed the young teacher that she had no idea in God's world what the teacher was talking about (although, knowing Ronnie's imagination, as she would explain for years later, she had a fair idea of what might have transpired). The teacher, of course, almost certainly experienced the immediate and sorely punishing free-fall of instantaneous mortification on that fateful night, and I'm assuming things were never quite the same thereafter. In any event, I have no recollection of being asked to become a part of anything remotely resembling a lecture tour!

This isn't a story that I remember well. In fact, I barely remember it at all. But Mom told it that way for years; and Daisy was a woman just naturally lacking in guile. The teacher, of course, never forgave me, and very likely tortured my boyish effigy (by then, no longer cross¬eyed!) well unto her own death. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to reach the great beyond some day and discover that she spent the last breath of her mortal existence in a devil-may-care curse on a young, dastardly liar named Ronnie Something - perhaps the unchallenged WORST of the horrid succession of boys who'd somehow "done her wrong" during her thankless Earth-life!


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