The invitation to the most important speaking engagement I’d booked this year was withdrawn as a result of scandal. The organization, which said I’d be addressing about 80 attendees, accused me of lying about my credentials.
I was incredulous. Me? Lie?
Why, I haven’t told a real whopper that didn’t involve me trying to get laid since, gee, late 2013.
This story has — for now, at least — a happy ending so try and pull yourself together.
I’m going to obscure some of the facts to keep from embarrassing anyone involved, but here’s the crux of the inflammatory charge: Officers for the organization said I never taught at Point Park University.
Teaching creative non-fiction there from about 2007-2011 is one of my most proud achievements. I earned glowing student evaluations and am still honored to serve a mentoring role to some students with exemplary accomplishments.
Alleging I never taught there is like alleging I’m not a Steeler fan.
It’s a core part of my existence.
So who would dare charge I never taught creative non-fiction at Point Park University?
It was a professor who taught creative non-fiction at Point Park University and she’d never heard of me.
Clearly, I was going to need someone like Perry Mason to defend me.
Or maybe local attorney/TV star Edgar Snyder. Remember, he doesn’t get paid unless he gets money for you!
With impeccable credentials like my accuser’s, I began to wonder if maybe I’d imagined the whole thing. And although she’d never admit it, I’ll bet the same thoughts flashed through Val’s mind, too.
She’s seen enough Lifetime movies to know some simple-appearing lives can explode before the second commercial break when it is revealed a straying husband is leading a double life. He has another wife, two more kids, a dog here, a cat there — and the cheating bastard is always more successful and handsome than the schlep Val married.
But I don’t have a double life, I swear. Heck, add it all up and I barely have a single life.
And she’s met some of my students and heard them praise me. Happened just last month. One of my best students and the only one who’d earned an A+ came to visit for a night in Latrobe.
We had a real ball and I was gracious enough to let her sleep on the bed in my office.
Now, hold on.
That’s a titillating little lie planted just to get your mind racing. My student was a guy. I just dropped the wrong pronoun to see how many of you watch Lifetime chick flicks.
Val even came out for drinks with Matt and I.
If I was leading a double life it was an elaborate one, going to the trouble as I did to have an “actor” come out posing as one of my former students.
And imagine for a moment just how creative and duplicitous a guy I’d be if I could pull that off. Val might even approve of such self-starter chutzpah in a guy she’s long believed to be lazy and ambition-free.
Still, I was stung at the chance I would lose this speaking opportunity over a baseless charge. I responded with the names of the people who hired me, the colleagues with whom I worked and the name of the River City Inn bartender who’d inebriate me and my students on the nights when I got tired of talking.
And I prevailed. They realized I had, in fact, taught creative non-fiction at Point Park University.
It’s just that I did it within the journalism discipline, not English, as my counterpart does.
She wrote me a graciously apologetic note explaining the misunderstanding and assuring me that all was well.
But the flap has for me been inspirational.
I really ought to include some colorful lies in my humble bio (see below).
It always pisses me off to see many of our renown plagiarists and resume fibbers do so much better than I, a no-account blogger with irrational integrity.
Maybe I ought to swap Point Park for, say, Harvard.
It would certainly eliminate the possibility that many of the people with whom I’m dealing would have “Gotcha!” moment regarding my credentials.
And I have been to Harvard. I got lost on my way to Fenway in 2003.
Yes, if I can get into trouble about my history with creative non-fiction, maybe it’s time to try some creative fiction.
Chris Rodell is the Latrobe, Pennsylvania–based author of “Use All The Crayons! The Colorful Guide to Simple Human Happiness." He has taught creative nonfiction at Point Park University in Pittsburgh. He’s written features and essays for Esquire, Cooking Light, People, Maxim, Men’s Health, Playboy, Golf, Details, and Arnold Palmer’s Kingdom magazine. His travel stories have been published by more than 100 top newspapers including The Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, The Miami Herald and the London Independent. He blogs at www.EightDaysToAmish.com He has written for many of the most prestigious magazines in America and been rejected by the rest. He will write for anyone who’ll pay him. He is a PROSEtitute.
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