To try and be more popular at my second high school (or less unpopular, to put it more accurately), I had a daft/desperate idea; at least to get some more attention that wasn’t bullying. The idea originated from a holiday I had with a family in the midlands. Towards the end, at some sort of park, I met a girl—let’s call her Becky. We got on very well with each other and for the first time in my life, a girl actually liked me. This was in the pre-internet day, so nobody had email, and mobile phones were not so common—I certainly didn’t have one at least, and neither did Becky. We didn’t kiss or anything, but we traded addresses and home numbers, and would start writing to each other. I would call her from a payphone in the school (remember, it was a boarding school) every weekend or so. We did this for about year, until my family went back on holiday to the same area… we tried to arrange to meet but it didn’t work out, which left me a bit sad.
In that summer when it all “ended”, I thought a lot about her and about school, so much so that it almost became an obsession. And then, the idea crossed my mind. If people at school thought I’d slept with her, they would think I was cooler… or even more… say that I got her pregnant. The idea was a bit crazy (okay, very crazy), but it grew on me, and I started to think about the details. How to get people to believe me? I would have to know all the details and be consistent in everything I said. I would have to act strange at the start and get people to ask me what’s wrong, rather than just blurting out the lie; I’d have to get the timings right. I would rely on saying “don’t tell anyone, please!” to ensure that the one or two people I told it to at the start would tell other people. If there was something I could be absolutely sure about it was the capacity of the others not to keep secrets. I basically created an entire lie and story, and in knowing it so well, it sort of became my world and I was in danger of starting to believe it all myself—and that was actually a little scary.
It certainly did get me more attention, especially with the lads, not sure if I got more “respect” from them because of it, but it did mean more people talked to me. I would never talk about it unless actively questioned – definitely not something to be boastful about, in order to maintain the fantasy. It was tiring though, especially when the “baby was born” – to keep the lie going throughout the entire school year. Thankfully that was my last year at that school, and I went to school closer to home for my last pre-university years, so I could just forget about it.
One day, a couple of years later, I met a guy who was in my year at the boarding school. I asked him how many people believed it all, and admitted it was an entire fabrication. I wasn’t afraid of admitting, though he was surprised. He asked me why? When I told him, he was surprised and said that people did like me at the school and I wasn’t that unpopular. How memories and perspectives change from person to person.
As I say, looking back and it’s a little scary. Have you ever seen the film The Talented Mr Ripley? The guy gets lost in his lies. People get lost in their sort of fantasy world, so much so that it becomes real. What’s the tagline from the film? “It’s better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody”… and, “How far would you go to become someone else.” I’m just glad I was able to leave it behind, though it has echoed a lot through the years. Anybody else had such experience?