True Story

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True Story

This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

True story. I'm driving in my car. It's a green Chevy Trailblazer. It's got a Yale University sticker on the back. Kind of an important detail, is the reason I mention it. I really am sorry about the sticker. It's sort of a tool-ish thing to have on there.

Anyway. The dog's in the car with me. He's a lab shepherd mix -- a great dog. Really just a great, sweet wonderful dog. And I love my dog, so when I get to a red light, I sort of turn slightly to look at him in the back, and he's lying down looking happy and smiling and he just looks terrific, so I say to him -- and, yeah, I should be embarrassed here, but this is radio, which makes it a lot easier -- I say to him, in that voice we dog owners use exclusively for talking to our dogs, when alone:

"Look at you sitting there! You look so handsome! Look at you smiling! You handsome thing! Look at you! Such a handsome thing, sitting there!"

Bear in mind: the dog's in the back, the windows are down. Someone, say, in the car next to me, wouldn't be able to see the dog, and wouldn't know who I was talking to, and might assume I was talking to them.

Later, I'm home, and I get a call from a friend of mine. "Still got that Trailblazer?" she asks. Yeah, I say. "Still got that pretentious Yale sticker on the back?" Yeah, I say. "Click on to Craigs List," she says. "Under Missed Connections."

Have you heard of that site? I hadn't until my friend called. Apparently, there's a place on the web where you can post little messages to the people you've encountered that day but don't know. Like "I was the guy with the Odwalla at the Peet's on Main. You were the woman with the yoga mat and the iPod Nano. Wish I had gotten your number. Hit me back, let's have coffee."

So I click on the site and read the following: "You, guy in green Blazer on Wilshire and 26th. Me, guy in convertible Mini. Don't know what your status is, but just want to say, thanks dude, you made my day. Hit me back, let's have coffee."

"Look at you sitting there! You look so handsome! Look at you smiling! You handsome thing! Look at you! Such a handsome thing, sitting there!"

That guy thought I was talking to him. Even if I was so inclined...which isn't the case..."Look at you sitting there"...that's just not...usual...pickup language, is it?

The trouble is, I'm not sure where the story goes from here, because, the truth is, I made it all up. I know I started this by saying "True Story" but the truth is, and this is the real truth here, not the "True Story" truth, people tend to enjoy a story more when they think it's true. They don't judge it as harshly as they do when you say, "hey, I'm working on the beginning of a feature comedy spec and what do you think of this set-up?" Say that, and then suddenly everybody becomes a studio executive writing negative script coverage over the weekend. Don't like the Blazer. Don't believe the dog language. Hard to buy into the coincidence. Pass.

Which is why, for almost ten years, I've begun every network pitch and studio meeting by saying something along the lines of..."You know, this really happened to a friend of mine...seriously, true story..."

And then I proceed to tell them, essentially, a lie. Something I made up. Something I'm not sure is really good or interesting or saleable or makes any sense, but any negative reaction to the material, to the work product of my imagination, I've protected myself against. Don't like the story? That's okay. It's just something that happened to a friend of mine. Think it's contrived, or silly, or uninteresting? Maybe. But it's, you know, it's true,'s not like I'm a bad writer or anything. It's just a...just a boring story that happened to a friend of mine. Forget it.

You know, another friend of mine told me a fascinating story the other day, and I was thinking it might be interesting to explore in a series. Want to hear it? True story.

Well, that's it for this week. Next week, we'll break down the lingo.

For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.



Rob Long