So, there was this guy named John Matthews. Still is, in fact. As it turns out, he spent twenty years so that he could infiltrate white supremacist groups on behalf of the FBI. Here’s how he explained the circumstances to his son, Dan:
Once, when Dan was 16, Matthews called him from a pay phone to say he was going underground and might appear on the television show America’s Most Wanted one day. Months later, when they reconnected, neither brought it up.
Matthews, who is now 59, recognized how he must have looked to his son: a troubled Vietnam veteran, a paranoid man who wandered between jobs and marriages, despised the government, and always kept a camouflage backpack filled with food, water, and clothing by his bedroom door. “Danny always figured I was trash,” Matthews says. “Or a bad person.”
In other words, he explained it with lies. But, like, not even flattering lies. I think we can do a little better than that, can’t we? Let’s think of some better ways he could’ve explained his twenty year absence to his son:
- I’m a virulent racist heavily involved in white supremacy causes.
- I just… lost track of the time. Sorry about that, kiddo.
- The elves–er, um, adult, fully-sized human workers–are slacking in their toy production here in the workshop.
- I never really forgave you for that time you hogged the ketchup.
- I was getting my MFA.
- Despite what you’ve seen from me over the years, I can’t actually walk. I’ve been faking using an elaborate system of levers and pulleys whenever I’ve been around you, and really, it’s just exhausting. I can’t keep that shit up.
- I’m dead. And a ghost. Not a zombie, a ghost.
- I made it my life’s mission to watch every episode of 60 Minutes.
- I may not be the hero this city wants, but I’m the hero this city needs, if you catch my drift. Maybe you can visit my cave this weekend instead of staying with your mother and… Claude. What I”m saying is that I’m Batman, OK? Got it?
- I’ve actually been John Elway this whole time.