August 1976, Mansfield, LA - a small town southeast of Shreveport. Seated in Boy Scout summer camp mess hall with twelve older campers, meaning that they were thirteen to sixteen, I, the eighteen year old Nature Area Director was busy regaling the boys with how I was not only a hobbit, but the tallest hobbit in history.
"Unfortunately, the Guinness Book of World Records doesn't believe in hobbits."
"What are hobbits again?" one boy asked.
"We're a race of people, farmers and gardeners mainly, who used to be two to four feet tall, but we're taller now. Why I'm nearly five feet tall! That's the reason that I was sent out - to see if the Big People were easier to get along with."
One boy, who had read J.R.R. Tolkien's classic more recently than I and who was having as good a time as I was, asked, "Is that why you smoke a pipe?" He also liked to appear as a know-it-all.
"Why, yes. Most hobbits smoke pipes. I keep my Meershaums back at the staff camp. They're too heavy to smoke about the camp."
"I thought that hobbits had hairy feet. Why don't you?"
I sighed. "I shave. Have to mix in, you know. I really hate it too. You humans sure make things tough."
Things went on in this manner for a half hour. Finally, one of the boys asked me a question that caused a mind burp.
"What is your true name in the Shire?" For those of you unacquainted with The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Shire is the name of the region where most hobbits live. Now I had read the books once, two years earlier and the only names I could come up with were the names of two of the main characters, Frodo and Bilbo. These obviously wouldn't do, so I did what any clever BS'er would do. I used obscure facts to my advantage.
"Well, I can't tell you that. You might talk to big people in power and they could figure out where the Shire was based on language groups."
"Huh? How?" the boy asked.
"It is a known fact that Hungarian and Finnish are related languages, hence linguists have pinpointed the origin of these two people northeast of Hungary, in - what's the name of that state in the USSR? Ukraine, I think. Anyway, given my true name, the government might figure out where the Shire is based on that."
I looked around the group. Two boys still had that look of wonder after that fiftymegaton bomb hit my story, wow. We went on for five more minutes, but the boy that had read The Hobbit was making it more and more difficult for me to keep my story straight, so I ended it.
August 1984, Baton Rouge, LA - 250 miles away. My newlywed wife and I had just stepped out of a 7-11 when I heard
"Jerry! Jerry Bridges!"
I stopped and looked at a young man that I had never seen before. "Uh, should I know you?"
"You don't remember me? You told me eight years ago that you were a hobbit and I believed you for three months! I was trying to help you in all kinds of ways."
"Ok," I said guardedly. "Thank you. Have a nice day." I helped my bride into my F-250 and made it to the stop sign. Took me five minutes to stop laughing enough to drive.