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Lies and Exaggerations
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“Did I ever tell you about the time I dated Elvis Presley?” My Aunt Arlene flipped her dyed blonde hair behind her shoulder, then passed me a joint she’d just finished rolling. My roommate Sean was reclined in the loveseat across from us, his eyes glazed over and pink. I was 26, working as a video editor in San Francisco and my hippie aunt, my Dad’s younger sister, had driven up from LA to visit her favorite (and only) nephew for the weekend. Arlene was known to my friends as “Steve’s cool Aunt” — which was true in that her favorite activities were getting high and listening to music, which happened to match quite well with the 20-something, single, male set. But she was a bullshit artist: a genetic family condition.

“No, I’m pretty sure I would have remembered that,” I said, then coughed up a lung. I knew most of my aunt’s stories; there were about ten of them and she cycled through them on repeat, like clockwork, on every visit. I knew better than to call her on these tall tales; it wasn’t worth the aggravation. And it wasn’t like I could ever prove she was lying. Maybe she really did date Elvis. It was always a more pleasant experience to go along with whatever she said. This, though, was not one of the ten scheduled stories; I figured she was trying to impress Sean, who sat transfixed at the edge of the couch, lapping up her bullshit like a thirsty puppy.

“Did you two have sex?” he asked eagerly, passing the joint back to my aunt.

“Yeah, right!” Arlene paused to take a massive toke, then laugh-coughed, smoke filling the room. “I was a good girl back then. I was only 22 — I didn’t get laid until I was 26! It was the 60s, but not the late 60s!”

That part I had heard before. My aunt’s “losing her virginity” story was #7 in the cycle of ten. It’d happened in Rome, Italy. It was apparently amazing. Sometimes she would add details about the sex (he performed oral, his penis curved to the left) when wanting to keep her audience enraptured. Thankfully, this wasn’t one of those times. It was Elvis time.

“This was way before he got fat,” she continued. “Before he got caught up in all that bullshit with the pills and the booze.” I looked down at the half-ounce baggie of stinky indica bud on the couch between us and laughed. My aunt noticed. “What? You think pot is the same as a handful of quaaludes?” Her tone, at first, was defensive but then she paused and her eyes glazed over in reverie. “Man, if I could get my hands on some quaaludes….you guys really missed out. That ecstasy shit ain’t nothing like quaaludes.” She took another long hit on the joint, then attached the nub to a roach clip. I tried to bring the conversation back to Elvis.

“So how was it a date then?” I asked. I needed to find the crack in her story. Though I knew she’d be able to spackle it up without any effort. “Oh, my girlfriend, Cheryl at Max Factor, I’m sure I’ve mentioned her, she was dating Elvis’ best friend at the time.”

“So it was like a double date?” Sean asked.

“Yeah, you can say that.” My aunt took another hit, then sucked her lips into an oval and blew out a trio of smoke rings. Me and Sean waited for my aunt to continue with more details.

“I’ll tell you one thing,” she said, her smile widening. “He was a hell of a kisser.”


Vivid, embodied and interesting! Thank you.

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