Liar-Liar … and the truth of the matter

Here were my five truths and one lie from the liar-liar meme:

  1. I make excellent mayonnaise
  2. I spent an afternoon hanging out with James Baldwin in Paris.
  3. I once threw a big party in Budapest to which I invited strangers off the street.
  4. I was once almost blown up by a gas water heater.
  5. I appeared in a video for the underground Czech band “Laura and Her Tigers.”
  6. I grew up in Rotterdam, but don’t speak a word of Dutch.

How embarrassing to admit that I’d forgotten about it! If Mopsy hadn’t reminded me tonight at Fairway that I never posted the answers, I wouldn’t have remembered it tonight, either!

And so? Well, I happen to make truly excellent mayonnaise, thanks to the ladies of The New Basics cookbook! It was only when I tried that recipe for the first time that I actually understood what the big deal about mayonnaise was. It’s really good when it’s homemade!

I did spend an afternoon in Paris with James Baldwin. He was extremely nice with me, something worthy of note because of how unbelievably unaware and dopey I was with him! He even invited me to write to him in St. Paul de Vence (I didn’t, and still kick myself over it), and remembered me a year later when I saw him after his reading at the 92nd Street Y.

And I did invite strangers to a party at the apartment I was illegally house-sitting in Budapest … and two of the strangers came … and they turned out to be lovely, lovely people (nicer than some of the ‘friends’ I’d invited!) and we wrote to each other for a couple of years after I went back to New York.

In that same apartment (a guy I barely knew but liked very much was tending it for his vacationing professor and blithely turned over the keys to me when he knew that my friend Evan and I needed a place to stay), there was a gas water heater in the bathroom. It needed to be repaired. If you turned off the hot water too quickly, the pilot light would go out. I kept forgetting that. One morning, I was running water in the kitchen to wash the dishes and ran it for a long time, waiting for it to get hot. Nothing. And then I remembered the heater and that the pilot must have gone out, so I grabbed the matches and walked down to the bathroom … not thinking about the fact that I’d had the tap on for a long time by then, that the bathroom must be full of gas at that point. I walked in and looked inside. Sure enough, the pilot was out. I lit a match … and the air exploded. There was a terrific ‘BOOM!’ I was blown back into the wall, random flashes of fire lit up in the air, my eyebrows and lashes were singed, as was the skin of my face, neck and arms. After a second — leaning against the wall, realizing that yes, I was mostly ok — I heard Evan’s very frightened voice from outside asking if I was alive. Yeah. One guess who has a healthy respect for gas appliances these days!

I grew up in Rotterdam … in upstate New York, though, not in Holland! That one’s lame, but I like it.

And so the lie is that I wasn’t in a Laura and Her Tigers video. I would love to have been, but no such luck. LHT was probably my favorite of the underground bands I got to see or hear when I was in Prague, but I only went to a concert, never got to work with them. What fun that would have been!

So the prize goes to Nancy!! Excellent powers of deduction!

7 thoughts on “Liar-Liar … and the truth of the matter

  1. Ah, yes, homemade mayonnaise is really good. I haven’t made any myself, but had some on a few occasions in France.

    And what a story about the water heater. Yikes! Such a vivid story. I can well imagine how frightened your friend must have been, too.

    By the way, I now have the song “Rotterdam” by the Beautiful South stuck in my head. Do you know that band? They have great, funny lyrics. Such as this bit from “Rotterdam”:

    The whole place is pickled
    The people are pickles for sure
    And no-one knows if they’ve done more here
    Than they ever would do in a jar


  2. Yes, check them out. I’m quite fond of them. Here’s a link to their Rotterdam video on YouTube.

    One of the things I like best about them is that the music sounds pretty and melodic, often perky even, but the lyrics tend to tell a different story.


  3. Thanks for the link, Alejna. I like their sound and just downloaded a few of their songs from iTunes!

    Nancy, how lucky that you got to live in Prague for 4 months! It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and I had an incredible time both times I visited. I was there before the Berlin wall came down … I’m so curious to see the changes of these recent years, but haven’t had a chance to go back. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to enroll in the summer writers’ workshop so I can spend a few weeks writing in a place I love so much … and maybe I’ll learn to say more than a few words!


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