I moved from Detroit Michigan to Evart Michigan a few days after my sixth birthday. Evart is a teeny, tiny town in the northern part of the lower peninsula. When I say teeny, I mean one stop light. For real. In 2013 the population of Evart was 1,890. To put that in perspective, there are currently 2,809 students enrolled at Green Valley High School in Henderson Nevada were I live now. One high school. 1,000 more people than my entire home town! What is even crazier, is that I didn’t live in Evart, actually lived in Sears; a neighboring town that had no stop light at all. I went to school in Evart because Sears doesn’t have a school. Unless you count the Amish school, and I don’t think they would’ve let us attend, us being heathens and all. The population of Sears in 2000 was 1,100. So, yeah. Small towns.
I began first grade at Evart Elementary in 1988 and was desperate to fit in and find friends. When you live in a mini-town, there are families that have lived there for generations that virtually own everything and know everyone. Many people are related in some way, if not by blood, than by marriage or previous marriage. If they aren’t related, they have been such close friends for so long that they may as well be related. A community like that is hard to break in to when you are a city kid who has no foot in the door, not even a cousin there vouching for you. So, I felt like I needed an edge. I came up with the perfect one when I met *Linda.
Linda was a super nice girl who had three older siblings and like me, (and most young girls in the 80’s with pre-teen and teenaged sisters) she loved Def Leppard. I cannot remember how I found out this information, but that is neither here nor there. What is important is what I did with the information once I had it. I cannot remember the exact conversation of course, but I assume it went something like this:
Linda: (singing) “Pour some sugar on meeee…”
Me: “I love Def Leppard!”
Linda: “Me too!”
Me: “Joe Elliott is my brother.”
Boom. I dropped the friend-maker. WHAT?!?!?!?! Why in the world would I say that? To this day, I’m not sure where it came from or why I would get myself involved in a story that could be so easily disproven. Had Google been around in those days, this never would have happened. Anyway, Linda believed me. She began asking questions, and I had all the answers. Joe was on tour so he didn’t move to Evart with us. We had different Dads, and his was Brittish, so naturally we had different last names and he had an accent. Because we were six, Linda never questioned the fact that Joe Elliott was born in 1959, which made him only five years younger than my Mom; and I certainly did not know that at the time. I never would have imagined that he could be any older than my big sister who was like, the oldest person ever not counting my parental figures. In a six year-old’s brain, everyone cool is right around the same age as you are. Except older siblings who are far older and wiser, and Moms and Dads who are older than dirt. (Or older than Methuselah as my Mom would say.)
As soon as I let those words pass through my lips, I kind of regretted them. I knew it would eventually have to come out that Joe Elliott was not my brother, but it was too late to take it back. I had already embellished the tale too much! I decided it was best to stick with my story. Over the next day or so I fielded questions and did my best to answer them. My fable was working and I became pretty popular. Having Joe Elliott for a brother can open some doors for you in the first grade! I think my lie held up for 48 hours or so before the inevitable happened.
Our phone rang one night after school, and my all-knowing big sister answered. I heard her say, “Yes…” and then there was a pause. I heard her say, “NO!” And then… laughter. I was sunk. I just knew that call was about Joe. Sure enough, Linda’s older sister called my older sister in search of the truth. Apparently, my sister had no interest in being Joe Elliott’s little sister by another British father, because she didn’t even check with me first! A simple, “Hey Annie, are we going with a Joe Elliott-is-my-brother-story in order to make friends in this town?” would have been sufficient. Instead, my sister sold me out. Linda’s sister relayed the message to Linda that I was lying and I had to face the music when I went back to school.
Strangely, I don’t remember a big fall out. I made plenty of friends without further lies involving rock-star relatives, and Linda remained my friend through school. We are still friends via Facebook. While the friendship lives… so does the lie. Every so often, the legend of Joe pops up. This morning it happened like this.
Linda posted a picture of a coffee mug with a movie reference. My own flesh and blood, the tattle tale herself, my older sister commented:
“On the back it should say; “Pour Some Sugar On me.” Ya know, because Annie‘s big brother Joe Elliott is awesome!” She tagged me and everything. There was no reason what so ever for this attack, yet she just had to do it! I laughed my ass off and decided to write this post. Thanks for the inspiration Nellie, and for never letting me forget the enormous, big, fat, wild, most complicated whopper I ever told! Next time I try to impress people I’m going with something more believable. Like, “Hi, my name is Annie. Beyoncé is my daughter.”
*Name has been changed.