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Real-Life Fish Tales

Suzie Lechtenberg

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Larry Lehmer: What I was looking for were people who were at the shows in that last tour, people who might have had some contact with the singer. People who were on the bus, that sort of thing. I was trying to get as close to the story as I could. And almost everybody who was on that tour has told a story at some time or another, how they had a seat on that plane and they gave it up at the last minute, which of course is only true of a couple of people.

When I interviewed Waylon Jennings for the book, he kind of carried some guilt with him for a long time, because he had given up his seat to the Big Bopper. There were so many people that claimed that they had given up that seat on that plane, which was a four seat plane, obviously not everyone could have fit on it, he says that if everyone was on that plane that says they were supposed to be on that plane, they'd of needed a 747.

Ann Hagman Cardinal: I'm Ann Hagman Cardinal, I live in Morrisville, Vermont, and I'm a fiction writer, a novelist. When I was a child my mother would tell me these stories about my family in Puerto Rico. We would be in my great aunt's house in Puerto Rico, in Bayamon, and she said that my great aunt did not go into the front room, because her father had shot himself in that room. And it was a big mystery because there were two bullets. I believed it. I was actually very freaked out by sleeping next to this room. And then I mentioned this several years after my mother's death to my uncle, who said, "You know, Annie, that house wasn't even built then. He died of TB, very slowly. He didn't shoot himself." And at first I was very disillusioned. I was very upset. I felt betrayed. And he said, "You know Annie, your family is as defined by the stories that aren't true, as by the stories that are." And I took great comfort in that, and that actually drove a lot of my writing. And that's been sort of my goal in becoming a writer. Is to document the stories that my family told -- true or not.

Roger Sullivan: It was the spring of 1991, I'd say. We were in a bar on the north side of Chicago; a nice fun night out, a nice Saturday night. I was coming back from the restroom, and I was smoking a cigarette, and I was going back to where my friend and I were sitting. And this girl turns to me, and she was, well, large enough to make this point. And she turns to me and says, "Do you have a light?" Obviously, because I was smoking, I would have a lighter on me. And I was like, no, unfortunately, I don't. And as I kept walking back to my table, she was like, "Well, what good are you for then?" And I turned to her and said, "It sounds like you swallowed a lot of aggression, along with a lot of pizza." Which is a line from "Stripes." And as I said it, I turned around and kept walking. So, I always thought that was a pretty funny story.

So it turns out, what really happened was, I was walking past her, she said, "Hey what are you good for?" And I basically said, "Sc*** you," and kept walking. And by the time I got back to the table, my friend turned to me and he was like, "Hey, what's going on with that girl?" And I made up this line about eating too much pizza, which would have been the perfect comeback. It would have been rude and downright despicable looking back fifteen years later. But at the time it would have been pretty funny.

As time goes on, we start hanging out, and seeing other friends, and he was like, "Oh, you should have heard what Rog' said! You should've heard what he said! It was great!" And so the story kind of took on a life of its own. And as I went on, you know, went back to work on Monday and told guys, "Oh you should have heard what I said to this lady, and blah, blah, blah..." And it's that old line from "Seinfeld:" 'It's no longer a lie when you believe it to be true,' which is what George Costanza says.

Steve: My version? It was a night unlike any other night before. (Steve and Roger laugh) I believe that she had asked for a light, and Roger said he didn't have one. I can't remember the gist of it, but then she just made some wise-crack comment to Roger. Roger turns to her and said, let me get this straight now, "Sounds like you girls have swallowed a lot of aggression," then paused and added, "along with a lot of pizzas."

(Roger laughs, Steve sighs.)

Steve: Oh, I was right next to him. (Roger laughs.) On his left-hand side, lucky to be paying attention, and heard the whole thing.

Roger: I feel this is my favorite part of the story. It's my favorite part of the story because I never said it to the girl. (Steve laughs.) And the simple fact that Steve has actually clung to this part of the story, and the fact that this lie has taken on a life of its own, in Steve's mind.

Steve: Wow, I feel like I need a 12-step program. (laughter) That was my recollection, yeah.

Steve: We were out one night, and this was pretty much after I stopped drinking. We were out chatting with some friends, and you started telling this story, "Oh listen to this great story about Roger!" And then you said it. And I was like, Steve, it didn't really happen. And then you jumped in like, "No! I was right next to you. Don't give me that. That trying to atone for your past stuff."

Roger: Now you're pulling the Roger Clemens on me.

Steve: I'm not. You're misremembering! (laughter)

Steve: So Roger, I will just say, the truth will set you free.

Roger: Steve, I am free. (laughter)

  • Music Bridge:
    The Golden Apple Pie
    Artist: Nonloc
    CD: Between Hemispheres (Strange Attractors Audio House)

Comments

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  • By Roger Sullivan

    From Dexter, MI, 03/29/2008

    Suzie,

    That was great fun.

    Thanks,

    Roger Sullivan

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