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February 26, 2024

White Lies, Tall Tales and the Tooth Fairy

By Tedi Trindle

Somewhere on the time line of man's history, language developed. Approximately five minutes after that, the first lie was told. Ever since then, lies have been with us in all their infinite variety. Nearly everyone lies, and those who don't are probably lying about it. I say "nearly everyone" because I don't personally know everyone (although I'd like to).

The difference between an honest person and a liar seems to be a matter of the magnitude and frequency of the lies they tell.

People tell lies for assorted reasons, some of them good ones. Sometimes it is kinder to lie than to tell the truth. If your best friend is as ugly as a handful of earthworms and she asks you how she looks, you are likely to tell her she looks nice. It is unlikely that you would hand her a paper bag and then say, "Put this on. There, that's better." Tempting, sometimes, but unlikely.

Other people tell lies to make themselves seem better or more important. Their lies generally fall into the "tall tales" category of untruths. I once sat at a table with a group of men who were talking about dating married women. First one confessed that he had dated married women. Then another told about he, too, had dated married women, and had almost gotten caught. The another said that when he'd almost gotten caught, he'd had to climb out a window with his clothes in hand. The final lie, and the best, was when one of these tawdry Romeos had to crash out the back door when the husband came in packing a pistol which gleamed in the darkness. I couldn't have gotten away from that conversation with a backhoe.

Me, I tell lies just for fun. Telling lies is a great untapped resource of entertainment, once you get good at it. The fun is in getting people to believe your lie, then letting them know that you were lying all along. Trouble is, it gets harder the more you play the game. For some reason, people just suddenly start to get suspicious around you. My husband and I play this game with our children. They no longer believe anything we say. Go figure.

Some lies are so great, they have outlived the original liar and become myths. Once upon a time, a parent invented the tooth fairy. I'd have like to have met that parent. A child loses a tooth, and the parent tells her to stick it under her pillow & why? So that a fairy whose only interest is in disembodied teeth will come buy it from them. There was a bizarre psychology at work in that brain. I'm envious.

Every novel ever written is filled with lies, cover to cover. People buy them and read them and believe them. Movies are lies too, even television movies, which are lies made up to resemble the truth. We love lies, even when we say that we hate the. Fortunes are made upon the telling of lies.

Others lies we swallow are generated by advertising. There is he perfume which will instantly draw a bevy of handsome men to the bidding of the wearer.. And the wearer just smiles coyly and walks on. Right. There are the diet aids which will burn fat off in the middle of the night, right after you eat a banana split with extra whipped creams. My personal favorite is the jeans which are so comfy you can push a large boulder up a slope without breaking a sweat. I plan to buy a pair (This is a lie).

Some people are assumed to be liars just by he nature of heir profession. Lawyers, politicians and used care salesmen are he most obvious examples. I feel a little sorry for them (only a little mind you). It must be hard to have everyone automatically think you are lying.

Some of the best lies are the ones we tell ourselves. Such as "I'm going on a diet, right after the holidays," or "I'll never drink again." These lies give us hope for the future and reinforce erroneous beliefs that we can make fundamental changes in our personality. Every year, right before Christmas, I say, "Next year I'm going to shop in August."

No one believes it, least of all me. But it makes me dread Christmas less. So it serves a purpose. Incidentally, as I write this, August is now a memory. I am currently pretending that Christmas will never come.

Finally there is the lie by omission. "Omission" was one of the fist big words I ever learned. This should not surprise you. A lie by omission is great because you can lie while simultaneously telling he truth. It is the best of both worlds For instance, you decide that you are going to call in sick at work, so you dial your boss. "I'm sick" (of going to work and seeing your face every day). "I'm very sorry to do this to you." (I'd do something worse, but it's all I could come with on short notice). "I'm sure I'll be better tomorrow" (unless someone send me a check and I can afford to stay out another day.).

It has been said that honesty is h e best policy. This is probably true. The truth has gotten me out of more trouble than lies ever have, much as I hate to admit it .Still lies are so darned attractive that I wouldn't want to give them up completely. I will someday, though, right after I run the Boston Marathon and have nine column inches devoted to my race.
Article © Tedi Trindle. All rights reserved.
Published on 2003-09-15
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