If you were at the Seamus Egan Project concert at the Barn a couple of weeks ago, you heard lead singer Moira Smiley describing her first trip to the Methow Valley in October of 2011. She talked of arriving at my house for dinner, and seeing Jon and me in the process of gutting and dressing a deer that we had just shot.
After the concert, several friends came up to me and said “Wow, she described a whole side of you I never knew about! I didn’t realize that you knew how to butcher a deer!”
It was an unexpected way for many of my friends and acquaintances to become familiar with a different side of me: a whole pioneer-woman, deer-hunting, carcass-gutting, meat-butchering side of me.
A side of me, however, that does not exist.
As much as I’d like to claim credit for being able to take down a deer, cut it, and wrap it up, my role with venison in our family is to take packages of meat that Jon has placed in the freezer, and cook them.
It’s uniquely disconcerting to hear someone else describe you doing something impressive, when you haven’t actually done it. On one hand, it’s easy to get swept up in the narrative and bask in the glow of your own alleged accomplishment. But your mind won’t quite let you relish your moment in the sun, because it’s not rightfully yours to enjoy.
A friend likes to talk about my amazing canoe portaging skills, telling others about how I reached down into the water from the Diablo Lake dock, grabbed a canoe, threw it lightly onto my shoulders, and walked up the hill with it. The friend describes it so clearly that when he tells the story I almost remember doing it. But I know with absolute certainty that I didn’t.
True, I’ve logged a lot of portaging miles, and can still carry a canoe alone. But I need someone else’s help to get the canoe up on my shoulders in the portage position, and I always have. Even in my Outward Bound portaging heydays, when I routinely completed long portages in northern Maine, I still couldn’t hoist the canoe up there by myself. And yet a very close friend insists that he saw me do it just five years ago. I love that his memory of me is more impressive than the reality, so I’ve stopped trying to correct him.
What feats have you received unwarranted credit for? What skills have been undeservedly attributed to you? Do share; we’d all love to hear.