Friday, May 6, 2011

Writing with Your Pants on Fire

In light of yet another memoir author being outed as an exaggerator (at the very least), I figured it was the perfect opportunity to chat with Dr. Lya Lya Pansonfiah, who is definitely a legend in her own mind. You've probably seen Lya out and about as she speaks at fundraisers for her Pansonfiah Foundation, gives workshops to aspiring authors, and gabs on talk shows re. her "expertise" in the fields of mental health, animal training, and cosmetology. Dr. Pansonfiah's latest book is called A MILLION TINY CUPS OF TEA and purportedly details her (almost) real life experiences as a therapist who ran a rehab facility on the top of Mount Everest.  It makes for a fascinating conversation, as you’ll see.

Susan: Welcome, Dr. Pansonfiah, or may I call you Lya?  It’s a pleasure to have someone of your questionable caliber visit us.

Lya:  Oh, what I've got isn't of questionable caliber, Suzie-Q. It’s a .38 Special. I keep it tucked inside my Louis Vuitton tote bag at all times, considering how crazy folks are these days.

Susan:  Crazy, indeed. As a fiction writer, I’m used to making up stories, which end up in things I call “novels.” But I’m not sure what to call what you do. Are you a nonfiction storyteller? A pseudo-expert? A mem-fic author? Or just a reality show wannabe?

Lya: What I am is a Renaissance Woman, pure and simple. Nothing is beyond my reach, and, if it is, I’ll just grab myself a ladder and climb on up. That’s how I am. Unfazed by obstacles.

Susan: Obstacles like the truth, you mean.

Lya: Truth schmooth! What is it anyway but one person’s perception of a moment in time!  It's all an illusion or is that a delusion?

Susan: I'd say either works in your case. Might I ask about your educational background? On the CV you emailed, I can’t quite make out the name of your alma mater. It looks like, “Fa├ž” I’ve never heard of it.

Lya: That’s because it’s French. But what’s book learning anyway? I earned my credentials at the most difficult institution on the planet, even tougher than Harvard and Yale combined. It’s called the School of Hard Knocks. That’s where I got my doctorate.

Susan: Hmm, I’m not sure that it’s an accredited institution.

Lya: Forget degrees! I didn't need one to become an elephant trainer, did I?  And if you've seen that flick, "Water for Elephants," you can witness what a bang-up job I did.  Saved that tiny Reese Witherspoon from being trampled more than once.  Or how about my mastery of makeup?  Do you think Lady Gaga was truly born that way?  And how about my past domination of the beauty pageant scene. You do realize I was crowned Miss America, Miss Universe, and Miss Galaxy all in one fell swoop? It was the largest pageant ever, held at Trump’s casino in Vegas, and Oprah sang the National Anthem. I’ve never heard such a beautiful voice.

Susan:  Wow, your experiences are certainly unbelievable. I noticed your press release also states that you served a prison stint at Folsom with Johnny Cash. What happened?

Lya: I shot a man, just to see him die. Everyone knows that! I also shot the sheriff, and narrowly escaped prosecution in Georgia when the lights went out and they hung an innocent man.

Susan: I can name those tunes in five notes.

Lya: Are you questioning my veracity, Ms. McMuffin? Are you calling me a fake?

Susan:  If the faux Jimmy Choo fits....

Lya:  Oh, ye of little faith!  You can’t even imagine how many people believe every word I say.

Susan:  I can, yep.

Lya: And those who know better, I call LIARS (all in caps), because it’s better to strike first, you know.

Susan: Good plan.

Lya: It’s something I developed while heading the Global War Tribunal at the Pentagon. It’s called Even If You Ask, I Won’t Tell the Truth.

Susan:  Perfect.

Lya: It trumps that 12-Step stuff every time. Which reminds me, did I tell you about my recovery from mainlining Hostess Cupcakes? Spent the better part of junior high drying out with some of Hollywood’s most notable bulimics.

Susan: We’ll save that for next-time.

Lya: Can’t wait.

(In the interest of journalistic integrity, it should be noted that Dr. Lya Lya Pansonfiah is not a real person, although there are plenty of Lyas who actually exist.  Their names are just not quite so, um, revealing.)


  1. I see that Lya left out her history as a speech writer for Al Gore during his run for president, vocal trainer for Milli Vanili and publicist for Hosni (You know they really love me) Mubarak. She's never been accused of false modesty.

  2. Warren, I tried to bring up all those things, and she very quickly changed the subject. You know how slippery she is, that Lya. ;-)

    Marilyn, starting the morning with a chuckle is a very good thing indeed. :-)

  3. Wonderful, still smiling.

    Just a reader

  4. Laugh out loud blog! Thanks -- and terrific graphics.


  5. Thanks, Lil and Marian (and Maggie, that's you, right?)! I certainly let the sarcasm flow today, didn't I? Ahh, it felt nice! :-)

    Happy Mother's Day weekend, all you wonderful moms!!!

  6. Too funny! . . . and amazing that these adults haven't figured it out when all the children to whom I tell stories understand the difference between "really true" and "a story with some true ideas in it."

  7. Maria, you're welcome. :-)