Made in Monaco

Before I knew it, I was a gofer bouncing between celebrity events for all the best teams and sponsors during the week of the race: McLaren, Marlboro, Ferrari.

I lied my way through my twenties. It was the only way I could have managed. If you'd ever been to my small town and had a curried-chicken dinner at our best restaurant, you'd know that high-society types are rare there. So I lied.

I took off to London, then to Morocco and then to Spain. I made up stories about my family, my experiences as a child vacationing on our boat. People bought them without question, never knowing that I was born in a landlocked village smack in the middle of North America. It was a great feeling being able to rewrite my history without worry of being exposed. And I continued to create fables about myself.

By the time I landed in the south of France, I was starting to believe the tales I was telling. I walked the international docks in Antibes and Cannes and acted as though I understood what life was like for the billionaires on board. My new friend Robert was astonished by my knowledge, and when we both started to run out of money he naturally suggested we look for work among the yachting crowd.

"I don't think I could ever work on one of these," I said. He shrugged and pulled out the few francs he had in his pocket. "It's Grand Prix season in Monaco," he answered. "They will be looking for extra help. I hear they pay for a hotel for you if you do the work."

The next day, we took the train to Monaco. Ours was not a unique idea, and we met others aboard doing the same. I was worried about my false stories being exposed, and so when we met an Englishman named Daniel who had a line on some catering work, I leapt at the chance, dismissing yacht work as boring.

Before I knew it, I was a gofer bouncing between celebrity events for all the best teams and sponsors during the week of the race: McLaren, Marlboro, Ferrari. I was their man. I was so good at it that I got invited to the wrap-up party, which was no curried-chicken-dinner event. I sipped champagne by myself before a group of men came up to me, perhaps intrigued by my solitude.

They introduced themselves one by one. First their names, then their roles: Joe Somebody, president of Ferrari Racing. Mr. Whatshisname, Joe Somebody's right-hand man. "Michael Schumacher,":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Schumacher team racer and champion. I knew nothing about these people, and I realized I was in way over my head. "Tell us about yourself," they said. What could I do?

"Oh, me?" I replied. "I just came to clean the carpets. Somebody handed me this, and I thought it tasted good." They paused and looked at one another. This wasn't the type of response usually afforded to people of their status. "So good, in fact," I said, offering Schumacher a wink, "I think I might stick around for another." He smiled, and then they laughed and huddled off in unison.

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