Do not tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish. -Mark Twain

Everyone lies. This should seem obvious on its face, although I suppose I could be lying. Religious people say that we’re all sinners, and once we’ve sinned we usually don’t want to admit it so we compound things by lying about it. Like when God came into the garden and said, “Yo, my peeps, what’s with the fig leaves?” and Adam and Eve said “These old things? Uhhh, we thought we caught a draft coming from east of Eden.”  Okay, I made that up.


You probably don’t like to think of your mom lying, but the next time you lose a crown try putting it under your pillow and see if the so-called “tooth fairy” comes through with any cash. No? Explain that, mom. The classics are ones that cops always hear, like “Honest, officer, I only had two beers.” Or the ones wives hear, like “Honest , honey, the car stalled and it took til 3 AM to get it started.” Honest, any sentence that begins with “Honest” is probably going to be a load of fertilizer. Did you ever wonder how Mrs. Jonah received the news that her hubby’s three day absence was due to his having been swallowed by a whale? I can’t imagine Mrs. Idler buying that one without a notarized affidavit from Shamu.   

On the other hand (there’s a phrase used to introduce many a lie), the commandment that covers this subject specifically defines it as “bearing false witness against thy neighbor.” So if you get to the pearly gates and they’re ringing you up for lying, a good lawyer can probably get you off with, like, 30 days in purgatory on the grounds that you didn’t actually bear false witness against anyone, you just didn’t count a couple of strokes that, it turned out, might as well have been practice swings. Also, the guys in your nassau weren’t your neighbors. So what about it, St. Pete? Of course, good luck finding a lawyer at the pearly gates.

What brings this to mind is the fix NBC News anchor, Brian Williams, finds himself in as a result of embellishing his adventures in Iraq. You’d think a guy who had clawed his way to the top of a sleazy enterprise like network news, who had bowed and scraped before the right politicians, and cheerfully done the bidding of the right interest groups, you’d think a guy like that would have learned how to lie. Hey Brian, people who volunteer for combat aren’t like your Manhattan pals. They’re not going to smile and nod while you’re including them in your fantasy. People who have “getting shot at” as part of their job description aren’t going to just roll over for you, especially when you’re lying about something that purportedly happened right in front of them.

Think about it, Brian, if they’re not afraid of the Iraqi army, they’re not going to be afraid to tell the big shot from NBC News to get, um,  lost. Next time – if there is one – you want to go with something along the lines of “ . . . there I was, out behind the tent sparking up a Lucky, when I heard the unmistakable chatter of small arms fire, pocketa-pocketa-pocketa, coming from the direction of the practice range and then some real biggie-biggie boom-booms which I couldn’t accurately identify because I had crawled under the tent, covered my ears and assumed a fetal position. It might have been a truck backfiring, but it was probably an RPG. Yeah, that’s the ticket.”

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