David and I meet Curtis, Anna, and Anna’s father, Eugene, in the foyer of the ballroom at the St. Regis. We’re looking forward to getting to know Anna’s dad, who is Russian, and turns out to be interesting and dignified. He and Anna share several facial features—same nose, eyes, mouth. Eugene’s wife, Anna’s mom, is in Moscow seeing to some issues concerning her elderly mother. We haven’t met her yet, but will eventually, as Anna and Curtis are buying a house together.
The St. Regis is a wonderful venue for a zero-labor Thanksgiving feast. We’re led into the dining area, and the waiter starts pouring champagne as soon as we’re seated. A tray of shot-sized Bloody Marys is also offered around the table.
“I haven’t seen a blog posting in a while,” Curtis tells me.
“I haven’t felt inspired,” I say. “Also, I was confounded by the response to the last blog. Everybody took it so seriously. I heard from people I haven’t heard from in years. I heard from people I don’t even know.”
“You think highly of yourself,” Curtis says. “I doubt it was that far-reaching.” He sips his itty-bitty Bloody Mary and looks superior.
“I thought it was real,” Anna says, reminding me that she was only one of many who took the posting to heart.
“Its believability simply shows how good I am at what I do,” I respond. No weak egos in this family.
Anna doesn’t judge, but I have to ask myself, if I were Anna, if I believed it, would I resent a fabrication being presented as full-fact when it isn’t? Hoping to alleviate this feeling of guilt brought on by all the commiserating and indignant feedback I received, I scramble for an explanation.
“I didn’t set out to fool anybody,” I say, desperately seeking an excuse. “What I do is right there on the homepage of my website. It’s clearly stated in the upper right corner—I WRITE STORIES.”
“Yes, but is it right to present something as truth when it’s not?” David asks. Coming from him, this causes consternation. In any situation, his response is always the righteous one.
“You’re making this about right and wrong?” I ask defensively. “As the person with the power over the keyboard, I’m entitled to write whatever I want. Sometimes a blog is completely true; sometimes there’s an element of truth; and sometimes there’s no truth whatsoever.”
“Then you need to make that clear.” Curtis believes in clarity.
I thought I had. I once posted a blog about the life of a rock. I wrote another one about how I gave away my neighbor’s dog, which was no more than wishful thinking. Is there a new RV park up the road? Yes. Is the manager a loser who peed in the local fountain? Maybe. I’d even say likely, considering the bizarre location and weirdly uninhabited state of the place.
The posting about the woman confronting me in the grocery store was a mixture of fiction and nonfiction. It’s true that I once callously called a girl fat after the painful gym weigh-in; but the way I learned she held a grudge was when, ten years later, she refused to meet with a group of her friends for a drink when she learned that I’d be there. At the time I thought it was ridiculous that she would stay angry for ten years. The notion of her irrational grudge-keeping stayed with me, and at one point a couple of months ago, it occurred to me that if that girl was mad for ten years, she might've stayed mad for twenty or even thirty years. I wondered—if she saw me now, would she still be mad? So I played “What if?”
So here’s my quandary. Do I do as Curtis advises, and be clear? I could label each posting as REALLY HAPPENED, PARTIALLY CREATIVE, or TOTALLY MADE UP. Am I obligated to make this distinction? As an author, I honestly feel that I have a right to do whatever I want. Also, doesn't the question of veracity lend intrigue? I think I’d better have another tiny Bloody Mary and give it more thought.