A Study in Pranking, Trickery, and Other Shenanigans: Engaged to James Franco

James FrancoAnyone who has worked retail knows that the monotony can be draining and boring. Sometimes, you have to play games to keep your mind working and don’t fall into sub-humanity. Whether it’s playing the meow game, à la Super Troopers, or another harmless gimmick, games can get you through life as a retail plebe. When I worked retail, I would make things up about my life when customers asked personal questions. I mostly did that to see what I could get away with, which became a fun game and made the days more interesting. One day, I was feeling particularly dishonest and just happened to be wearing the only piece of jewelry I own that is worth anything—a diamond and emerald ring that once belonged to my grandmother. I was helping an older woman find a particular product when she said, “Oh, your ring is beautiful! When did you get engaged?”

I was taken aback that she had handed me this gift so readily and that she didn’t notice that the ring was on my left pointer finger instead of the all-important ring finger. So imagine when the Grinch gets that “wonderful, awful idea.” I’m 100 percent sure that’s what I looked like.

(Sidenote: These quotes are paraphrased, as I am not a super human and can’t remember the conversation with complete accuracy.)

I said something along the lines of, “He took me to Reunion Tower for my birthday, and he proposed right there. It was a surprise. I had no idea it was coming! It was really sweet.” As you can tell, I’m a great actor/liar/whatever. Improv classes have improved this skill.

She leaned in. “And expensive.” She smiled a conspirator’s smile. “You better hang on to that one. Tell me more about your fiancé!”

And here’s where I made a decision…to be engaged to James Franco. “He’s an actor-slash-scholar. He lives in New York. I’m going to move up there with him after the wedding.”

“Have I seen anything he’s been in?”

“Oh probably not. He was in a film adaptation of As I Lay Dying… and he had a role in the Spiderman movies…” And just because I was pretty sure she had never seen it, I added in, “And a movie called Pineapple Express.”

Yeah, she had no idea, so she went on to ask about “the big day.” My answers became shorter as I became more bored the further away from “the game” we moved, so to speak. One-word answers sufficed for the more boring bits of our conversation.

I did not see that woman the rest of the time I worked at said retail store (oh the beauty of living in a big city), and I wonder if she ever ventured to a computer or tried to pick up a copy of Pineapple Express to possibly pinpoint who my fake fiancé is. But I’m a realist and know that she probably didn’t really care and most likely forgot about me, the lying retail plebe. And that’s okay, because for a few minutes, I was able to convincingly lie through my teeth (whether that is dependent on the liar or the audience is debatable and beside the point).

Leslie Michaels is currently a Level 2 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She spends her spare time riding her bicycle, playing Ultimate Frisbee, or hanging out with her boyfriend, Netflix. She still questions whether she’s a dog person or a cat person.