You know how some people can’t ask for directions? Like if they’re lost, instead of stopping and asking someone for help, they just keep driving until they stumble upon where they need to be, or get doubly lost? I guess with GPS and cell phones and Google Maps, this probably isn’t a common thing anymore, but I promise you, there was a time when it was the number four most used situational comedy b-plot.
Well, I have the opposite problem. I have no trouble asking for directions. I get lost constantly and I’m not afraid to stop and ask for help. But, if someone asks me for directions, I am unable to say “I don’t know.” I can’t even pull out my phone and look it up for them. Instead, in order to look like I’m a grown man who knows what he’s doing—in order to look like some younger version of my father with hipper glasses frames—I lie. I stumble and I stutter and I make something up. In most cases, I could probably just stop for a second, think about it, and give them fairly accurate directions. I mean, I’ve lived in this neighborhood for three years. But stopping and thinking would reveal that I’m fallible, and I want them to trust me completely. So I lie. I tell them go left—no, East—down Sunset, and Alta Vista doesn’t go all the way through, so you’ll have to head towards Santa Monica and then you should see it?
They usually thank me profusely. They say they asked six people before me and I was the first person who knew. I smile and feel secure that maybe I’m getting closer to knowing as much as my father. Then I turn and walk briskly the other way, because I don’t want to be there when they find out I don’t know which direction East is.