I was thinking about the time, feeling like I had missed out on something big, I broke into Studio 54 in Las Vegas, when it was closed, by myself, and got busted by security, whom I plied with my feminine wiles before being escorted away.
This story is true, but also it is fiction. This is what I love about fiction!
My writing mentor, (RIP I miss you every day) asked me once if writers tell the truth. It was a topic in a workshop she was attending, and she was gathering feedback.
Having mostly only my own writing to go on for assessing truthfulness I replied, “They do, but in a funny way.”
I did not mean funny haha, I meant funny as in, it is the truth but it is also not the truth.
“I’m going to use that one,” she said.
For example, I did in fact enter Studio 54 when it was closed and I did not have permission. However, the door was wide open and there was no security guard. Technically I “broke in” since I entered without consent or permission- but I didn’t BREAK anything.
Several years earlier, due to an unfortunate bathroom stop at a tiny bar that lasted the entire rest of the day and resulted in one of my friends being too drunk to go, I had missed my chance to see the club in all its glory. I was back in Vegas, seven years later, and even though the club was closed I was not about to miss my chance again.
I walked right in like I owned the place, leaving my new boyfriend in the hall, wondering where I’d disappeared to. I hadn’t felt right implicating him in a crime.
Security, a lone man with a club and a flashlight, arrived maybe one minute later all puff and smoke.
I told him I was sorry, but I just REALLY WANT TO SEE THIS PLACE. I told him my sad story about missing out seven years ago, and the club not being open any nights while I was here this time.
He did escort me out. Right after he turned on the lights and gave me a tour. J, my new boyfriend, also broke into the club after he heard voices.
He thought I was flirting with security.
He was not opposed considering we now both broke in.
And he still asked me if I wanted to get married in Vegas.
I said no.
I’d only known him four months but nine years later when we did get married I was like, “Guess we should’ve gotten married in Vegas!”
Pat Conroy, (RIP my all time fave) wrote fiction, except for two books that he labeled as memoirs. In an interview, his (then) wife said, “Ha! Pat doesn’t write fiction!” (Or something like that, it was a while ago)
If you’ve read “The Great Santini” then you know what she meant. That book was about Pat Conroy’s dad, but also not. Santini was a created character who just happened to have a lot of the same qualities as his real life dad.
It was the truth, but it was not.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of comments, discourse and opinions about fiction versus nonfiction. There are some strong opinions out there, but there are two things I know to be true:
1) I’ve learned more from my years of reading fiction than from anything else and 2) Fiction is just a funny way of stating the truth.
I have a picture of myself from Studio 54, standing in front of the sign. It shows I was there, all dolled up and ready to rock. It’s the truth, a picture doesn’t lie.
Or does it?