I lied. Obviously this whole story is fiction but I’m talking specifically about Charles Carol Hardin. He was always John Lennon, every strip I wrote with him in it I knew that fact and kept it in the back of my head. I hope I surprised people with the reveal and I hope that some go back and read his strips with that knowledge in mind. The brutality he had going after other boomer musicians, his expressed love for Oasis/Nickelback and such, I think it works pretty well and I’m proud of it. Yes, I explained some of it in the strip itself, yes, I’ve got more explanation coming but I wanted to say before I got there how proud I was of that lie.

But it got me thinking about lies and a discussion with my mom from a month or so ago.

When I was a kid I got a strange punishment from my Elementary school in either grade 2 or grade 3; I was banned from any school activity that they decided was fun. Banned from the floor hockey team, banned from putting stuff in the time capsule, threatened with library bans when they realized I liked to read, and before every field trip I had a meeting where they decided if I could go based on the level of fun the field trip might contain.

I am not making this up.

Why? Basically, I broke minor rules that everyone broke and wouldn’t change my behavior when punished in minor ways for it. But generally speaking no one else would even be punished or noticed for doing the exact same thing. Talking to some teachers over the years I’ve come up with a theory; they had to make an example of someone to enforce behavior on the rest of the class and chose the small kid who didn’t talk very much and didn’t have a lot of friends. It was easier.

Not that I was a model student, but I was generally average or slightly above or below in terms of behavior.

In grade 4 I got kept after class for something so I played on the new computer we’d just gotten. Then every day for like a month I’d stay an hour after class to play on the computer and was starting to get good at it. The teacher was lesson planning so he was there anyway and didn’t mind. Until someone pointed out that I liked it and if I liked something there had to be a discussion if I could keep on doing that thing.

I am not making this up.

A kid volunteering for extra school work and needing to seek permission to continue because he’s enjoying it. I don’t think we had that particular meeting because I was tired of all those meetings and I remember just walking away from it and the computer.

The next year, grade 5, an entirely different school. New teachers. New principals. Most importantly; Computers as a class and not as a recreational activity. However, there wasn’t enough computers for everybody and it was listed as an optional class. We were told it was assigned on a first come, first serve basis. I read through everything, picked computers with art class as my second choice. Handed my sheet in first, and not by a little but by at least five to ten minutes. I read very quickly and I knew what I wanted.

So, I was in. There was no chance on a first come/ first served basis that the kid who put his in first could be left out of that class.

There was a meeting either after school or the next day, I don’t really remember. In that meeting I was told I could not take computers as my option because the punishment from grade 3/grade 4 still stood and I wasn’t allowed to do anything I showed interest in. No sports if I wanted it, no computers, still had to seek permission to go on field trips and the determination would be based on whether or not I would enjoy them.

Instead of computers they put me in art. Not that they taught art, I didn’t have a single art teacher in any school that could draw even a little bit.

It made no sense. Different school, different teachers, different principals, same old over the top punishment with no opportunity given to change behavior and get out of the punishment.

I am not making this up.

It made no sense. What kid gets four years of punishment for something that happened in grade 2 or early in grade 3? With very minor transgressions in the first place.

It made no sense.

Over the years I’d mostly just tell that story for the laughs because it was so strange and excessive that it was funny.

Then I told it to my mom last month and she denied it. Then she kind of remembered something about it in grade four but not in grade five. Then I told her about how I’d signed up first for computers and got denied. She got angry at that, insisting I was making it up because she remembered that.

It was a controversy and there was a big meeting about it. According to my mom the teacher’s kids, the teacher’s kids’ friends, and the teacher’s pets got preferential placement. That was why I was not allowed to take that class.

Initially I denied it. But then I thought about the kids I remembered who did get that class; teacher’s kids, teacher’s kids’ friends, and teacher’s pets.

Got me to thinking and everything suddenly straightened out because there was always one piece that didn’t make any sense at all in the punishment: I’m not allowed to do fun things so they ban me from computer.

But allow me to take art.

They lied to me. And to justify their lie they looked through the records and found that punishment and realized they could use it as justification for their lie.

Often you’d think people would feel… sheepish when doing something like that but I’ve found over the last thirty years that when people feel guilty they usually react by getting aggressive as if to justify their bad actions by trying to provoke you into bad behavior.

The punishment lasted until the end of grade six. It was still being applied to the last day of school fun day thing we had where they’d put down five fun activities and people would choose what they’d like to do. I couldn’t go to the amusement park because that was too fun, couldn’t go to the historical park because it had a few old-timey rides and thus was too fun, the one I was allowed to do? Rock climbing. Because I didn’t want to.

Strangely enough? I developed a bad attitude. Not sure why.

The worst part? I believed a lie that made no sense on the surface and I believed it for, jeez, over thirty years.

I like to think I’m cynical and can spot a lie a mile away and I’m probably better now than I was back then. But maybe I’m not cynical enough.

Like I’m starting to think that Nigerian Prince isn’t actually going to come through with that wire transfer.

I hope he does so soon though; I need that money to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.

Thanks for reading,

Steve