Saturday, May 31, 2008
Tales of Clyde
Clyde helped inspire my post about liars.
We met in high school. Originally quiet and mild mannered, he blossomed into a flashy blow hard, deeming his schoolmates too uncool for his company (like they cared). I was one of the few he'd associate with. He'd call several times a week to chat, even after I graduated (1986) and moved away.
I appreciated his calls. I'd taken a year off between high school and college. I worked (tropical fish shop) while everyone else my age was at school. There was also nobody my age in the new neighborhood. A friend ghost town. Clyde was it. He never tried to meet up with me, but called nightly to talk about current events, philosophy, and, increasingly, about how cool he was.
I first sensed he wasn't being straight with me when he claimed to have met a teen celebrity (let's call him "Sitcom Star) " at a party. This was plausible. This was Southern California, but I didn't quite buy it.
Soon Clyde boasted of weekly run-ins with Sitcom Star. They didn't get along. Sitcom Star was a jerk! Clyde always got the better of him! I wanted to believe this, but couldn't picture Sitcom Star commuting to Clyde's drab suburb each weekend to party.
Clyde stayed in touch through college, calling once or twice a month. His claims grew wacky. He bragged he was a mastermind of a profitable drug ring, complete with a minion of goons to do his bidding, including shooting up the competition. His day job bagging groceries? Just a ruse, he said.
We met again in 1990. He was in town. We went out to lunch- and his credibility went out the window. He'd been in the army for five months, yet was already doing "top secret missions" in Southeast Asia. "Do you know what an M-8o does do a guy when you shoot him point blank?" he asked, wide eyed. Now he had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, with all those spies and villages he took out. I changed the subject, pointing out that a local lighthouse was supposed to be haunted.
"Once when I was in New Orleans," he said "This guy got in my face and wanted to fight, but when I swung at him my hand went right through him, and then he disappeared!"
What was I supposed to say?
"That sounds scary!" (in other words, "I'm so dumb I believe this")
"How stupid do you think I am?" ("Liar!")
"Not that I question your military expertise or anything, but an M-80 is a firecracker, not an automatic weapon" (Dumb Liar!)
I didn't say a thing.
It's been decades since I've heard from Clyde. What became of him? What stories does he tell now?