Friday, March 28, 2008

Weekend Assignment: Lie to Me

April Fool's Day is coming! Are you all set to trick your friends and relatives with some elegant and elaborate hoax?

Me neither.

Nevertheless, in honor of April 1st, the BBC spaghetti harvest, NPR's exploding maple trees and the whoppers told by certain political candidates and their detractors, let's exercise our capacity to tell each other some original, harmless fiction:

Weekend Assignment #209: Tell us a story about yourself, something that is plausible but definitely, outrageously false, while containing a kernel of truth. Since we don't want to create any work for, begin your tale with the words, "This is not true," and don't say anything defamatory about any companies, products, celebrities or politicians.

I'll start, shall I?

The deadly shore of Onondaga Lake.

This is not true: When I was in tenth grade, my science teacher, Mr. Frisson, took us on a field trip to Onondaga Lake, there to study the effects of pollution. We were told about the history of the lake, how it played a part in the settlement of Syracuse, salt mining, and the Erie Canal. By the time I was there with the class in the early 1970s, it was where a lot of sewage and industrial waste was dumped. The place stank of sulfur and other awfulness, and all the fish were long-since dead. And yet couples still parked along Onondaga Parkway as a sort of Lovers' Lane, at least until the smell drove them away.

Mr. Frisson was a young, hip teacher, with more fervor than sense, especially when it came to teaching students to respect the Earth. What he didn't realize when he took us out there was that even walking on the polluted shore was dangerous. It was hard to breathe due to the clouds of toxic gases that rose from the lake, and the ground had the consistency of movie quicksand. Disoriented by the fumes, I walked closer to the water than I was supposed to, and quickly got into trouble. I fell trying to extract my sneakers and the cuffs of my bellbottom jeans from the muck, and ended up with the scaly, gray, alkaline gunk all over my pants and my hands. Mr. Frisson had to rush me and five other students to a nearby ranger station to wash up. Even after rinsing off my pants as best I could, and sitting on a towel on the bus ride back, I ended up with pustular rashes on my hands and legs, and had to throw away those jeans. The horrible sand had eaten through the denim in numerous places. My lungs had a burning sensation for two days, and I was picking scabs and dead skin off my hands for a week. Mr. Frisson apologized repeatedly, so I forgave him, and got an A on the paper I wrote afterward.

The good news is that 35 years and one Superfund later, what was once the most polluted lake in the United States is making a remarkable recovery. The flow of treated wastewater ended the year after our field trip, and companies, communities, charities and the EPA worked together to clean it up. It will be a few more years before people will be allowed to fish there again, but they expect to allow swimming this summer, for the first time since 1940.


That's it. Can you guess what's true and what isn't? I'll have the answer when I do my roundup of links for this Weekend Assignment, one week from tonight. In the meantime, it's your turn. Tell us your big lie in your blog or journal, with a little truth mixed in, and include a link back here. Then leave a link to your entry in the comments to this one. Got it? Good! I look forward to reading your April Fool's whoppers!


(Photo snagged from


Anonymous said...

Does this "tall tale" qualify for the April Fool entry"

Unknown said...

I kinda went nuts on this one

Mike said...

I hope the rashes were the made up part. It doesn't sound pleasant.
I got a little out of control with mine. It can be found here.

Anonymous said...

Mine is brief, and odd, but at least I did the assignment before the weekend ended. Mind you, my head has been swimming all day with thoughts about my information retrieval midterm, and I'm batty.

Florinda said...

This was actually one of toughest assignments so far for me, but here's what I came up with.

Kiva said...

I got over my writer's block. Here's my entry. I really hope that slipping into the muck and the rashes weren't true. It was true, I hope it won't come back to get you in the future. ;0}

Kiva said...

Oops my link didn't work. I'll try again. You'll find my offering at http://eclectic