In actuality, I'm telling the story of the Cup to my friend Sheryl. I added her name to make her happy. Actually, it was Matt Johnson.
"How'd you get back?" she asked me. "What'd you guys do?"
We made it to the beach with about five bucks left. We had a fine time walking around. We hung out on a pier deep into the night, feeling the waves smack the pilings beneath us and listening to a small Sony radio. We talked about all those things 18 year olds talk about. In real life, we didn't drive a Datsun. We used Matt's giant Chevy Caprice Estate station wagon and slept in the back of that, under blankets, in a cul-de-sac where there was new construction.
In the morning, we stole a plastic bucket and a piece of cardboard from the construction site. We spent a little of our money on a big sponge and some soap. Using a marker from the glove compartment, we made a sign that said "Car Wash - $5!" All morning we washed cars in a gas station parking lot, using their hose. No one asked us if we were supposed to be there or allowed to be there. Gas station attendants can be a little apathetic. I have learned this over the years. We made sixty bucks! We had a cheap seafood dinner and drove home with little worry.
This is the story as I told Sheryl. This is the story Matt and I agreed to tell everyone. We were eighteen and just starting to construct our lives the way we wanted our lives to be constructed. For years, this has been our story.
The actual story is a little different. It doesn't matter how or why it's different. There was no cup. There was no carwash. If Matt were telling this story, it would sound a lot different. If he (for some reason) decided to tell you what really happened, I'm sure it will sound quite different than my version of what really happened. Such is the stuff of memory.
Memory, however, is not the point of the story of the cup. The nature of the cup is the nature of truth in general, especially in storytelling. And storytelling, in my opinion, shares a very narrow fenceline with life.