Arthur is a former
newspaper reporter and journalism instructor who lives in the San
Francisco Bay area. He is a member of the California Writers Club. His
fiction has appeared in print and Internet publications, including Funny
Times, Future Mysteries Anthology Magazine, Writers’ Journal, Golden
Visions Magazine and Still Crazy. He is the author of “The Gender War,”
a humor novel.
going to lie to you. What I’m about to say isn’t the truth, the whole
truth and nothing but the truth. Does that matter? Of course not. Truth
anyway. Forget those fables about the virtue of veracity. Diogenes
wasn’t trying to
find an honest man when he carried a lantern through the streets of
Athens. It was
a stunt, and Diogenes was just another hustler masquerading as an
lie and we do a lot of it. Teachers exaggerate how bright their
students are at parent-teacher conferences. Motorists roll through stop
then swear to traffic cops that they came to a complete stop. Sinners
convenient memory lapses during confession, lying by omission.
Lots of reasons. We lie to avoid embarrassment. We lie to avoid
criticism. We lie to appear modest about success and to hide failure. We
cover up ignorance, dishonesty, carelessness, parsimony, prejudice and
indifference to others less fortunate. Sometimes we lie out of simple
say you’ve got a “prior engagement” to avoid going somewhere so you can
home and veg in front of the TV?
convinced? Uncle Sam wouldn’t need the Internal Revenue Service to
audit tax returns if people didn’t overstate expenses and understate
next time you’re in the express lane at a supermarket notice how many
have more than 15 items. Oh, and do you give yourself the benefit of the
when a doctor asks how much you drink and smoke?
of that applies to you? No? Did you ever pretend to admire a
friend’s latest fashion disaster, or unbecoming hairstyle or children’s
boring accomplishments? I thought so.
least we’re not hypocrites. We lie to ourselves, too. Favorite
falsehoods: vowing to stick to yet another New Year’s diet, to get more
and to read some mind-expanding books. How about eating more vegetables
fruit and less red meat? Add those to the list of self-delusion. And
don’t kid yourself
this is the year you’re finally going to volunteer for community service
something ennobling like delivering meals to elderly shut-ins or ladling
out soup at a
Ah…starting to feel remorseful? Don’t. In the end, people lie because
have to lie. Lies are the social grease that lets us to glide through
daily life without
bumping our noses on the sharp edge of reality and paying for it. At
least we try to
minimize dishonesty by drawing distinctions of degree. Think
half-truths. Or we
offer up minor lies and give them a color: white. If needed, there’s an
evergreen rationalization: everybody else does it. (Don’t try that with
we lie to avoid hurting the feelings of others. That’s acceptable,
isn’t it? No? Are you willing to pay the price for total honesty? Fine.
Then tell your
wife or girlfriend that last year’s bathing suit fits her about as well
as the gym shorts
you wore in 10th grade. Or tell your husband or boyfriend
that going without
shaving as a fashion statement is attractive only in 20-something male
sometimes it’s better to put a damper on being candid.
enrolls us in the liar’s club at birth. If lying isn’t in our DNA, we
learn to do it at an early age. A statue should be erected to honor the
first kid who
told a teacher “the dog ate my homework.” Just don’t get caught. It’s
risky to lie to
a cop, or on the witness stand, or anywhere someone with a cell phone
can record your lie and post it on YouTube. Be especially careful with
memos and e-mail because they can have a half-life like radioactive
face it. Deceit, carefully considered and employed, is a requirement
for getting along in life. But first you have to free yourself of
scruples about using it.
Never mind what your mother said about being truthful. She probably said
handsome or pretty. Look in the mirror.
to lie. Take that as gospel. I would never mislead you about
anything that important. Honest.