There are those stories children ask to hear over and over again and the stories they're forced to hear over and over again. We can all agree in which category "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" belongs.
As a kid, I heard it enough times for my parents to prematurely cut to the brutal death-by-wolf ending every time. As an adult, I still haven't heeded the lesson.
My most recent stunt caused more backfire than a shoddy exhaust system. Before we get to that, though, allow me to clarify the same point I argued to my parents all those years ago: There's a difference between a liar and a joker.
Not buying it? Neither did they, which explains all the time spent in my bedroom as a kid, thinking about "what I did." Parents, never use this as your disciplinary measure if your child thinks of himself or herself as a hilarious prankster. You're basically ordering them to replay their moment of glory in their sick head until dinnertime.
If this latest joke had any glory, you could say it was the fact people actually believed it.
A group of us girls took a trip to New York City. In a five-day period we saw the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, Times Square - all that postcard stuff. But, for the sole journalist of the bunch, one crucial site was missing. We hadn't yet visited the motherland of my industry: The New York Times.
I made a mental note to stop by before the trip ended. Just as that thought entered my mind, though, it was kidnapped by a clan of clever witches that live in my brain. They snatched it up, tossed it into a big black pot and began brewing. Call it a recipe for innocence with an aftertaste of regret.
My sister took the cab ride with me. She understood why a reporter wanted to stand outside that building and gaze at the iconic font of its sign. So, she patiently let me do just that. We got to clicking our cameras, like good little tourists, strolled through the lobby and then made our way out of there.
Time to execute my idea. En route to our next destination, I posted a picture of the building to Facebook, The New York Times in plain view. The following message accompanied it: "Wish me luck on my interview, guys."
Three, two, one ...
The "likes" piled up. Unsure what to make of it, I attached a short disclaimer: "Haha! I've been waiting five days to make that joke." Too little, too late. The comments rolled in.
"Go gettem!" wrote a high school classmate. "Buena suerte" - Spanish for "good luck"- wished a kind acquaintance. "Heck yes! You'll kill it!!!!!" commented a faithful reader.
All of them made me feel very good, which is why they made me feel very bad. One comment came uncomfortably close to a motivational speech, using words such as "visualize" and "know it."
Sirens blared through my scruples as my fingers searched for a "delete" option. Instead, I left a comment of my own, reiterating there was "NO INTERVIEW" and asking to forgive the joke. Still, more cheerleading.
Before my Facebook friends could join hands and perform a Care Bear Stare for my fake interview, my sister yanked my cellphone, "hid" the picture from my timeline, and cut to the death-by-wolf ending of my favorite bedtime story.
Taking the picture down was just the duct tape on the busted water pipe.
There were still a handful of people walking around with this image of me skipping into The New York Times, resume in hand. I thought about issuing a mass apology, a la stupid professional athletes and filterless radio talk show hosts. I flirted with the idea of sending personal messages to everyone, but it seemed too 12-step. I briefly entertained a new update, one informing folks The New York Times couldn't meet my salary expectations.
Then reality hit. With none of them being close friends or family, they'd probably never give it another thought.
As soon as the feeling of human decency returned several days later, a private Facebook message popped up from one of the women who "liked" the NYT picture. "How did your big interview go?" she inquired. Here's the real karate kick to the conscience. She wanted to know so she could update her husband and mother with whom she shared the news.
One can only hope that all three of them appreciate the difference between a lie and a joke.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of The Woman Who Cried The New York Times.
Contact Xazmin Garza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0477. Follow her on Twitter @startswithanx.