This Day in Revisionist History

February 2:

“Clearly I have some more work to do…” – a rather embarrassed Leonarde Keeler to his sophomoric colleagues during a test of the first ever polygraph machine, after the wavering needle cast doubt on Keeler’s insistence that he did not, in fact, enjoy making out with other dudes.

Life is already hard when your name is Leonarde. It’s even harder when you have to live in the shadow of a father like Charles Keeler. And that’s why it was particularly irksome for Leonarde Keeler when his own invention, which would later win him fame, fortune, and a place in history, would so quickly malfunction in so juvenile a context.

Life is not very hard when your name is Blake, especially when you’re the son of a wealthy oil baron. And that’s why it was particularly irksome when university distribution requirements forced the privileged young Blake to spend ten hours a week in a lab with “some nerd” in order to graduate with a degree in sports participation (a course of study made possible through the generous support of his father). At least poor Blake had a cadre of like-minded, equally spoiled fraternity brothers with which to pass the time and, hopefully, the class.

Leonarde Keeler was not the first to develop a “lie detector” machine, or even something called a “polygraph,” but he was able to greatly improve upon existing models by adding the ink-tipped pens, which provided an instant and permanent readout on the paper. In the same way, Blake was not the first to ever question someone’s heterosexuality, but he did manage to take an unprecedented delight in it. In fact, Blake Larson is considered by many modern fraternities to be the father of homophobia (a dubious honor that could have gone just as easily, some have argued, to Ben “The Moose” Benson—but naturally the idea of having two fathers of homophobia was a bit disconcerting.)

And so it was on that fateful night that Blake Larson and Leonarde Keeler engaged in a zero-sum duel of intellect. Keeler’s prototype had been working well, but occasionally erred in initial trials. Keeler decided to simply have his lab assistants ask a series of questions to determine if the machine rendered false readings, beginning with his own volunteered example of “Am I a human being?” The faint straying of the needle caught the attention of Blake, who then posed the question, “Are you a man?” As the printout indicated that Keeler’s affirmation was a lie, Keeler’s foolish, knee-jerk reaction was to simply yell that he was a woman, if for no other reason than to silence the fervent scribbling of the needle. Amidst the childish laughter he tried to redirect them to more serious content, but it was clear that Blake had the upper hand; hence the inquiry above.

Blake Larson would later take over his father’s empire and spend the rest of his years with his beloved college roommate. For some reason, he never did get married…

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