"Stringbean's a Liar"
Carolyn Space Jacobson
October 18, 1996

copyright © 1996

[Lights up.]

Hi. The following is from a rock-opera I've written called "Stringbean Takes a Wife." This monologue occurs toward the beginning, and is the audience's first introduction to the protagonist. The show will be opening at Riverside Theater in a couple of weeks, so keep your eyes out for news about it, and I've already been contacted by some people in NY, so it will probably be opening there in the early spring. If I'd known Scott was going to be here this week, I'd have worked up the version of this with the music, but I didn't run into him in time, so I'll just read this.

People used to freak out when I'd tell them how daring I was. How I stopped pickpocketers and kidnappers, and how I braved the flood waters that once. Their mouths would get really big, and they'd make these astonished noises, and their big ugly palms would slap me on the back and they'd shake my hand in what seemed to me like slow motion, although that was probably just my sickness speaking. "Congratulations on having those stories published. On having that plaque put up." But they never really understood. They thought they knew who I was, but what did they know? Not the real me, that's for sure. I mean, for instance, they never got that I was just making it all up. All that stuff about the political consulting I was doing? Pure fabrication. About being related to Frank Sinatra? Not in my lifetime. "I've got a promotion"? Just another cry for help in an unending series of my cries. They never got it. And I left clues. Oh yes. Plenty of clues. Like the letters I sent to all of them saying "Stringbean's a liar." And I'm a bad liar to begin with. When I lie, I've got this tic I just can't control. And I'd write to them, "Whenever Stringbean's tic acts up, you can tell he's lying." And I guess they just didn't want to know. Or maybe they just didn't know that I call myself Stringbean. And to be honest, my tic is pretty invisible. Even if you look close. And usually I'm moving waaaay too fast for that.

When it gets right down to it, I'm glad they never caught on. Because I really liked the accolades. I liked the announcements on the PA system about the outstanding community service I'd done, or about my latest tap-dancing gig on off-Broadway, and I liked that moment when I'd be saying grace over my lunch--not that I'm religious, mind you, except in a wholly self-serving manner--and I'd realize that two of my coworkers were talking about me, how great I was, how they wished they could be me.

I did try sneaking notes that would discredit me into the stack of letters to the editor at the local newspaper, but someone must have come by after me and removed them. OK. Sometimes I came along after me and removed them, but that was just the fear talking. Desperate actions taken by desperate men. OK. Desperate man.

And let's not underestimate desperation. I'd sit at home at night, stroking my knees, whispering little ditties to myself to bring the calm on. I'd count my toes to make sure that the world as I knew it was still the dominant reality. I'd check my dream notebook two or three times an hour to make sure I wasn't dreaming. Although I always worried that I might be cheating there, you know, forging my dreams. (I was a suspiciously accomplished dreamer.) If only I had a writing tic. Then I'd know if I were dreaming or not. Then I'd know for sure which way the wind was blowing. If it was blowing. If I wasn't the wind myself, that is.

I actually never told anyone that I was a genuine force of nature. Viet Nam hero, yes, but force of nature, no. Even I knew my limits. I had my rules carefully written in a notebook. They were:

1) Make it all up.
2) Tell everyone.
3) Never pretend to be a force of nature--m-dash--too risky.
4) Write nothing down.

And I lived by these words. Until the change came. After which I threw away the first rule--"make it all up"--and just lived by the other three, with an extra rule at the end which is to always tell the truth, which is why I'm here right now. I mean, I wouldn't be here if I'd kept on lying. Just think about that word: "Lying". It's like you're lying down, horizontal, doing nothing, a complete loser, except, of course, when you're talking, at which point your magnificence kick everyone else's ass, but you can't talk all the time, because you have to breath, and whenever you take a moment to inhale, it's like you become pathetic for those seconds, so you try to inhale really really fast, which only means that you keep passing out. And every moment that you're passed out, and you're not keeping up the lie, you're pathetic again, because who the fuck is going to believe you're an Olympic medalist in the shotput if you keep passing out.

While when you're telling the truth, you're standing straight up, all your sinews tightened and ready for action. In a good way, I mean. So that's the way it is, and that's a pretty good introduction to what I really want to tell you.

[Quick Blackout]

"Stringbean's a Liar" debuted October 18, 1996.

[Carolyn Space Jacobson's website]

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