The weirdest thing happened the other day

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On Sept. 19, I threw up a post titled, “Really dumb excuses when calling in sick.” It was triggered by this footballer in England who had just caused a ruckus by abandoning an important match for what he said was his grandmother’s death. Turned out his girlfriend had miscarried–certainly tragedy enough to stay home–but the couple, in their youth, thought the lie would carry more weight.

In the comments section, Gerry wrote,

A friend of a friend once called in stabbed to work. That’s a pretty good excuse. “I can’t come in today, as I have been stabbed.”

So I responded with this comment:

ger, i have a similar tale: in high school, a guy named dave hayter had to go home “sick” because a girl in ceramics class had stabbed him in the leg for not leaving her alone. he went on to write “x-men,” the movie. true story.

Ha, ha, right? I didn’t give it another thought, until I got an e-mail from Dave Hayter.


It was a sweet and funny e-mail, patiently explaining what had really happened. More on that in a bit. Because I feel like such a dirtbag, I am compelled to give you some context.

I didn’t know David well in high school. As you guys know, I went to an international school called Canadian Academy in Kobe, Japan, and David was one of those American kids who popped in for a year or two while their parents worked in the area. I was a lifer–a local kid who attended the same damn school from kindergarten up. We lifers tended to be mixed-race kids, or “half,” as we called ourselves–half Japanese, half whatever else. You might guess that we lifers ruled the roost, and didn’t much deign to associate with the temporaries. Not that they weren’t perfectly nice, like David. I’m just saying I never got to know him. The only thing I can say I remembered with clarity about him was that he was the victim of a stabbing at our school.

Years later, while I was working in Japan, my friend Seigo–also an alum of the school–told a gang of us that David Hayter had written the screenplay for X-Men, the movie. It’s the weirdest thing to hear that someone we sort of knew in our collectively gawky teenage years had accomplished something significant. We were all deeply impressed. And somewhat depressed, as we stared into our beers and contemplated our own miserable jobs.

But it turns out his admirable screenwriting career is not what makes David Hayter famous. He also plays the voice of extremely popular videogame character named Solid Snake from a game called Metal Gear Solid. So he’s got fans. Rabid fans. Rabid young fans with lots of time who troll the web looking for any mentions of their hero’s name. One of them dug up my throw-away comment on my blog, and e-mailed it to David.


Although he had every right, he wrote not to excoriate me for being such an a-hole as to dredge up an embarrassing incident, and to name him, no less. He wrote in the interests of setting the record straight. The stabbing occurred differently than I had recounted, and he would recollect best, seeing as he was there.

Boys and girls, the lessons here are:

1. Don’t tell tales out of school, especially if you’re nearly 20 years from graduation and your memory was always pretty Swiss cheesy.

2. Don’t assume the tales you tell won’t get back to the people of whom you tell.

3. Don’t assume those people won’t find you.

4. Don’t ever, ever assume anonymity in this day and age of Google.

So once again, David, I apologize, this time in the public forum. Here I reprint his comment to set the record straight once and for all on that infamous schoolhouse stabbing–that is, at least until I get an e-mail from the stabber, who is probably by now the foreign minister of Sweden with her own web-trolling posse. (And to ward off your snippety comments, friends: I realize this long-ago incident makes light of school violence in an era when that’s no joke. But read on.)

Dear Lisa,

In reading the post regarding the ceramics class incident, I noticed that your phrasing made it sound as if I was doing something worthy of a good stabbing, like harassing the young lady. I was not, she was just a friend. What happened was: When I saw what the class was doing — wood carving with these cool, curved blades – I was fascinated and wanted to give it a try. When she was not looking, I shaved a bit of wood from her carving, at which point she turned around, said “Don’t!” and stuck her own knife deep into my thigh. When the blood started bubbling out, she was horrified, and actually half-carried me down to the nurse. There was no animosity, and I did not go home “sick”. I laughed it off and stuck out the day, mostly because I thought the huge blood-stain on my jeans looked cool. I was, after all, only sixteen.

Now, you may argue that the value of unspoiled art is such that an action like mine deserves retributive physical mutilation, and I would not necessarily argue with that (as a side note, I have not interfered with another wood-carving since). But in the interests of journalistic integrity, and the fear that a misleading story might spread among my few fans and well-wishers, I thought I would let you know.


David “Hey, what’s that divot in your leg?” Hayter