Making up history as I go

Nov 132006
Authors: Geoff Johnson

Last week, my roommate, Nick, had qualms.

He’d just purchased a necklace from an expensive jeweler’s Web site (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m not naming names; this column is no Web site’s whore) as a one-year anniversary gift for his “Boo.”

The necklace arrived with a knot in it. The Web site said it would take more than a month to get another one for him. Luckily, our other roommate got the knot out for Nick in short order, but the point remained, he said, that Internet-shopping-related customer service leaves something to be desired.

I said: “You know, not long after a decline in quality of Internet customer service, the downfall of a society follows.”

Nick and I have known one another for nigh upon a decade by now, and he expects this kind of statement from me.

“Yes,” he said. “That’s what happened to the ancient Greeks.”

I said: “Indeed. And the Romans, the Czars and the English. It’s sad to say, but I think the end of our great nation is coming soon – because our Internet-shopping-related customer service is weak. So weak.”

“It’s a sad day,” Nick said, laughing.

I make history up.

I tell lies about it all the time. I act like I’m really smart and I know all about a particular historical subject, but I’m making it up on site.

I have mixed results with fabrication.

Oftentimes, like above, I find a live one like Nick, and he plays along.

Sometimes, though, he or she believes me for a while and I have to – as a result of my fierce and undying sense of integrity – say, “That was a lie. I made that up.”

I’m most always just making up the most ridiculous, outlandish thing I can make sound reasonably believable.

An example: I was eating Thai food in Old Town for lunch on Friday. My friend, Kristine, noticed the music playing included an accordion.

I said: “You know, the Scottish brought the accordion to Thailand.”

Continuing, I added: “Yes, the accordion is in fact extremely popular in Thailand, and the Scottish were the ones who originally brought it there.”

I informed Kristine that long ago, the Scottish – in all their kilted glory – thrived on the nasal warbling of accordions. “In fact, the accordion was the Annoying Scottish Instrument before the bagpipe was.”

“When the Scottish decided to make a change, though, from the one you just squeeze to the one you squeeze and blow into, they had to do something with all of their accordions. So they went to Thailand.”

Kristine’s facial expression was neutral, so I continued.

“Ahem. So they went to Thailand and they brought their accordions,” I said. “And, well Kristine, the Thai people just fell in love with them. They incorporated the romantic melodies into their traditional folk tunes. Or whatever.”

“After the Scottish taught them how to play the instruments, they left,” I continued. “And that was that. And here we are today, waiting for curry, and reaping all the benefits.”

Kristine said: “What?! I never know if you’re lying or telling the truth.”

I said: “That was a lie.”

But the truth is, for all I know, the accordion is a widely used Thai instrument, and the Scottish are indeed responsible.

I spent the rest of lunch wondering where the accordion really did come from, and where it traveled from its home. I settled on Italy, but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong.

Who can know these things?

Geoff Johnson is a senior English major. His column appears every Tuesday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to

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