a mind is a terrible thing to face.
i have a number of long-standing stories i tell about myself. some of them are on here even. not all, though. as bad comedians say, i’ve got a million of ’em. and, as a bad blogger, so do i.
but i recently got called out, and rightly so, on one of my long-standing stories. and it’s got me thinking about how the brain in general, and my brain in particular, is working.
here’s the story, as presented innumerable times until last week. it’s a story of an eerie coincidence.
first, some background. when i taught high school, i used to take kids on their senior trip to europe. i would get six kids, chaperone them around, get a free trip over, and then send them home and stay behind in london for a few weeks. always six kids at a minimum. if i got the seventh kid, fine, and i actually got some money for that, which i spent on the kids on the trip. what we did on some of those trips is going to be, unfortunately for you, beside the point today. but boy do i have some stories. in fact, as you might have surmised, i’ve got a million of ’em.
anyway, these trips were in the mid-’80s, when leon klinghoffer was being pushed off the achille lauro in his wheelchair and terry anderson (whose close relative i taught in ocala, as an aside. wonderful girl. hello, you) was being held in beirut and such. yes, my pets, terrorism did not begin with osama, or in the mid-’80s, for that matter. but in the mid-’80s, people were concerned about travel to and mostly from europe on airplanes. and it so happened that one of my return flights was on july 4th, which freaked everyone out, because they couldn’t understand how i would fly in a plane of the fourth of july when terrorists were targeting americans on airliners. but fly it it did, and got home safely.
pan am flight 101, heathrow to jfk.
which, eerily enough, was blown up over lockerbie, scotland one year to the day after i took the same flight.
creepy, huh? i’ve told that story for probably fifteen-ish years. except that, as i learned this week, it never happened that way.
i told the story to my boss, who then told me that she thought that the flight was blown up over lockerbie in december. she remembered, because she had worked on the pan am ad account at the time, and there were people on the plane from syracuse, and she had gone to syracuse. so i googled it, and i’ll be damned if she wasn’t right. right before christmas.
now, my question to myself, and rhetorically or tangentially or ill-fittingly to you, is this. how did my mind transform the worry about flying on july fourth to the errant reality that the lost flight actually did? it wasn’t a conscious process. but at some point on december 21, 1988, when the tragic accident happened, i realized that i was indeed on the same flight some months earlier. which i was. it’s the same flight we always took–i did that trip for several years, and we always started and ended in london. but i would have known then, in december, that it wasn’t on july fourth.
at that point i knew that there was no “eerie coincidence”, but then at some future point i thought there was. which is, i suppose, eerie in itself. and i suppose that just having taken that flight at all, at any time, is creepy enough in itself. but my mind apparently gilded the lily a bit. or i forgot the details, and filled them in wrongly in a subsequent conversation on the subject.
so first off, i’m sorry if i misled anyone. it wasn’t intentional. it’s a little thing, i know, but i really try to be scrupulous and honest and all.
secondly, in best charles foster kane style, i’ll lay out my “statement of principles” here. all the stories i tell on here are true to the best of my knowledge.
just know that, apparently, the best of my knowledge sometimes is not going to be good enough. feel free to let me know when i’ve strayed down the garden path, if you see me doing so.
even if it’s a really good story. which it’s likely to be.
it’s not any fun to doubt your own mind.