Elaine lied.

That was how I first became aware of her: a force for mendacity. It wasn’t anything tremendous, only I’d happened to see her the night before at a party — if you can call it a party, ten people, a television, and a case of half-decent beer, but we were strapped and it was a carnival atmosphere — and then overheard her complaining that she hadn’t had a day off in a month. Understand that Elaine was nothing more than a familiar face to me. She went to some of the same parties I did, was friends with people I was distantly friends with, she and a good friend of mine had had a fight over a girl. Things like that.

I don’t know why it stuck in my head, but it did, and the more I watched her, the more I began to notice how discontinuous her stories were. It wasn’t that she showed herself different ways to different people — we all do that more or less as we’re confident — it was that from moment to moment she reinvented her personality, her history, her ideas. I took it for vivacity.