Monday, January 21, 2013

Notoriety Dame

When I was a boy, imaginary friends were never part of my inner circle. As an adult, I have an imaginary girlfriend. She’s real, actually (her name is Jennifer Love Hewitt), though only in my imagination is she my better half.

Turns out, I’m not the only adult with a sham sweetheart.

By now, sports fan or not, you are familiar with the Deadspin story that made a mete’oric impact. Manti Te’o, a former notre dame* linebacker, had a girlfriend who, like the Astrodome turf or WALL•E’s intelligence, was artificial.

Lennay Kekua, whom Te’o dated for two years despite never meeting and who died of leukemia during Te’o’s senior season, never existed. She was “born” via a computer, in the manner Gary and Wyatt created Lisa in Weird Science, though her being required no hooked-up doll. The heroine in a fable, she was killed off last September, made to suffer the same fate as Nikki and Paulo, from Lost, and myriad other despised TV characters. Four months later, she returned to haunt Te’o from beyond the grave, wreaking notre damage throughout cyberspace.

Te’o, say it ain’t so’o.

If, as he claimed in an off-camera ESPN interview last Friday, he didn’t perpetrate the hoax, he certainly perpetuated it, basking in the attention, which those at notre dame tend to do. Is he a gullible young man who helps Nigerian princes transfer large sums of money out of the country? Is he a duplicitous, publicity-craving schemer — a lyin’ Hawaiian? Is he a bit of both?

I find it difficult to measure Te’o’s complicity in this bizarre saga, just as I find it difficult to find fault with the confused author of this USA Today article. Who’s to say what’s real anymore? Is Te’o’s relationship real? Is realationship real? (No and no.)

The article’s opening sentence drips with irony. The seventh word, an amalgam of real and relationship, shows up in an article about a relationship that was anything but real. That word, like Lennay Kekua, the Loch Ness Monster and portions of A Million Little Pieces, is not real. Really.

Bereft of oxygen, still Kekua breathed. Deceit nourished her. A voracious, 24/7 news cycle was her lifeblood. She continued to exist, living off lies, running on M.T. Empirical she was not. Fantastical she was. In her gran—

Oh! My! God! Love Hewitt’s agent just called. She said Love wants to get together, and she gave me Love’s digits: (800) 555-1234. A real phone number for a real girlfriend. If you’ll excuse me, readers, I’ve got a call to make.

* For those curious about the lack of capitalization, please refer to last Monday’s post.

Me and my "girlfriend" in New York City. Don't we make a cute couple?

1 comment:

  1. Where is your picture of Te'o and his girlfriend? You didn't get one sent to you for the post? lol