I’ve just discovered the biggest mystery in literary history. I admit, there’s been some good ones over the years: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? Are You My Mother? This tops all of them easily. The question is, why did Sally Jackson lie about how long she knew Poseidon?
Yes, this is entirely about the Percy Jackson series. If you couldn’t surmise this yourself, I am an avid fan of the books. To me, they are the pinnacle of young teen fiction. However, anyone if the Fandom will tell you that the movies are, to paraphrase the illustrious author Rick Riordon, worse than getting teeth pulled without anesthetic. Once, I forced myself to sit through that…production…to count the number of inaccuracies. In a 119-minute movie, there are over 200 deviations from the book. Not a single minute went by without the movie getting something wrong. But, I’m getting off-topic. I’m here today to explore the mystery that I only realized after watching the movie, despite having read the book 10 times.
You see, in the movie, Poseidon stayed with Sally and Percy until Zeus forced him to abandon them because he “was becoming to human.” In the books, Percy thinks he can remember his father, like the warm glow of a smile, but Sally dismisses his memory. She says that her and Poseidon were only together for one summer, on the beach in Montauk. Percy and the readers just accept this and move on with the story, but today something clicked with me. How did that work?
Percy was born on August 18th. In order to have that birthday, he had to have been conceived around Thanksgiving the previous year. So how is it possible for Sally and Poseidon to have been together in the summer? Unless Poseidon is rocking some godly mojo that screwed the pregnancy timeline, someone has some explaining to do.
We know that Sally isn’t above lying to keep Percy safe. She lied to him for years about who he was, why she married his ex-step-dad, and why he could never stay with her during the school year. She’s actually very adept at falsehoods. Yet, why did she lie to Percy about that? What could have moved her to lie about something so trivial as the date she slept with his dad? It’s not really that big of a detail and it really doesn’t protect him in any way.
Unless it does.
I have a theory, headcanon, call it what you will. As the Greeks could attest, Zeus is not the most understanding or considerate god. According to book lore, he and his brothers Poseidon and Hades made a pact after WWII to not have any more children since the war was mainly between their sons. Although Zeus broke this pact twice himself, he wasn’t so understanding of Poseidon’s dalliance. He definitely would have been upset if Poseidon had spent the whole summer with Sally and forced him to leave her. This is where my theory comes into play. What if Poseidon stayed with Sally the whole summer, left, but couldn’t get her out of his mind? He said that she was unlike any mortal he’d ever known, and coming from a god who holds the record for most children in the entire pantheon, that’s quite an achievement. I can’t believe he would just walk away and never look back. I posit he could not stop thinking about this girl he met on the beach. For months, he sat in his underwater palace missing her. He just had to have one last hit before he could truly give up a gem like Miss Sally Jackson, so he ventured up to the surface for a proper goodbye, complete with the early Christmas gift of a positive pregnancy test.
Sure we could boil this down to a lapse in writing. It’s happened before in the series. Percy says Blackjack is a mare in the second book but is a stallion in the third. Thalia’s eyes are green in her first appearance but blue later on. All of these have been brought up and explained by Rick Riordan, though. This is the only mystery left unanswered. Granted, it changes nothing and the fact remains that this is all fictional, but hundreds of like myself would still like to know. It’s not life-changing, but it would give me piece of mind to know I’m right.