Based On A True Story. Or Not.


I’m sure you’ve read this story. Like a lot of the trends in the world I tend to be one of the last to catch up. So when I saw the picture of the black lab sleeping on a sofa with a heart felt story attached, I read it.


I’m a sucker like that.

I read the entire post*. I teared up at the end. It was a lovely story, I had to share this. I clicked “Share” when I realized I should check my facts first.

One google search and I found out this wasn’t a true story at all.

not true

At first I was mad. Mad at Deb Green, whoever the hell that is, for posting a picture that probably wasn’t even the dog in question. I was furious at the 460 other people who shared this on Facebook without even looking to see if it was real.

Then I asked myself, “Does it matter?”

How often have I written about my life and taken wide liberties with the facts? I use the tagline “Based on a true story” because I need people to understand that I WRITE. I’m not always factually recounting information in a “what I did today” fashion. Most often I use real stories from real experiences with real emotions attached. Sometimes, though, I take a bit of leeway with the timeline, with the specifics. Maybe that story didn’t happen yesterday, maybe it was last year and I just remembered to write about it. Maybe I write in a way I want to remember, not in the way I actually experienced it. This is difficult for those in my life to reconcile. Often the people closest to me can not read my blog because it is too painful to read how much I enjoyed myself in Germany when I would call crying at least once a week.

But I do not want to remember how I cried in Germany, and I do not want to dwell on the things that I can not bear to make public. When I write my famous book** about my white bread life, I will open up to the reader and pour myself as an exposed vessel. Here, in the ever-changing dynamic life of a blog, whose comments are emailed directly to my phone giving me immediate feedback on exactly what the anonymous reader thinks, I protect myself behind a veil of stories. Of author liberties. Of the written word.

I thought of this as I removed my shared post of “Reggie the Lab” from my Facebook wall. I didn’t want to look like an idiot duped in to a story that circulated the email chain 3 years ago. I didn’t want to make other people cry over a false, although lovely, tale of service and love. But I also didn’t want to judge the person for having shared such a story or myself for crying at it: after all, it was a lovely story.

So what if we find out life isn’t exactly as we think we experience it? Isn’t the fact that we experience it at all sort of the point?

*You can read the entire letter about “reggie” here.

** Yea right. Famous book. PSHAW. No, seriously, I’m writing about my white bread life in the hopes of having it published for sleep study patients. Something to fall asleep to, Amen.

Posted: 7/4/2012