In Writing

Everything I’ve ever known is a lie. I was listening to Simon and Garfunkle’s “The Boxer” to get myself in that early 70s mood for a scene I was writing. I followed along with the lyrics as the Vevo video played because, well, when it comes to deciphering lyrics, I am seriously impaired.

That’s when it happened, right at the start. The lyrics said the beginning goes:

I am just a poor boy
Though my story’s seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocketful of mumbles
Such are promises
All lies and jest
Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

Poetic and beautiful as only Simon and Garfunkle could be. Only one problem: for forty-plus years, I thought that the line, “All lies and jest,” said, “All eyes on Jess.”

I always blame it on English being my second language. I am a world-class mangler of words I hear. I’m great with reading, less so with listening. My kids groan when I start singing along to a song, because at least one line is always sure to be spectacularly off. And I don’t just concede a point. I will defiantly sing “Starbucks Lovers” in Taylor’s Swift’s “Blank Space,” all evidence to the contrary.

I do have to say, though, “all lies and jest” is a far more elegant line than what my brain came up with. But what a disappointment! Since I was a little girl, I wondered who Jess was. No joke. And why were all eyes on her? I like all eyes on me (intermittently, and on my own terms), so I wanted to know how Jess pulled it off.

Now I will never know. Sniffle. Jess is gone.

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