I’ve been away for a while and in going back through older posts, I noticed a topic (by koshersalaami?) on sort of a writer’s call.  It reminded me of an old conversation. 

 

        “The difference is, I lie for a reason.” 

        Tabitha, my colleague, friend, confidante and occasional nemesis, was questioning me about a series of lies I told while working on a messy political farrago where everyone was covering their asses.  I had bluffed a couple into partial confessions by pretending to know more than I did.  Word had gotten out and now some folks in High Places were pressuring our paper for my head. 

        “Bloody hell Dandy, everybody lies for a reason.  More than I care to recall, I’ve told you your piece was good to go.  When it wasn’t, you know.  That’s because it was near the deadline, it was filler that few would read and it wasn’t worth the tumult of trying to fix it up at late hour.  So I had a reason.  Get it?" 

        As I was formulating my response she continued. 

        “Do you think that anyone lies cavalierly, wantonly, randomly?  Aside from outright cuckoos? “ 

        I sensed this question was rhetorical but as I was still working on my “Get it?” response, I let her continue. 

        When I go down for tea at the shop and the waitress says “your tea ma’am”, do you think it might be coffee but that she’s just lying for the hell of it?” 

        “Well…” I managed. 

        “Look, lying is a conscious act.  It’s sometimes reflexive but never inadvertent or accidental.  And if it were, it wasn’t really lying.  More like a verbal blunder.  Like when you knock over your pint, I know you aren’t trying to damage the table and drench everyone.  That would make it willful destruction.  Do you see where I’m going with this?” 

        I nodded and tried to look thoughtful.  A look that while well-practised, wasn’t reliably convincing.  But my thoughts were now occupied with wondering whether I was lying in feigning understanding.  Too deep for me.  Continued listening was safer. 

        “So you see, having a reason is essential to lying.  You look like you don’t get it.” 

        That “get it” expression again.  How I hated it.  People used it when they were unable to articulate just what it was that some opponent didn’t understand.  Lazy speech habit that led to lazy, ill-formed opinions or what passed for them.  But I hesitated in calling Tabitha on that point.  Too many painful experiences learned the hard way.  I didn’t doubt that she could precisely articulate just what it was I didn’t get.  And amidst these thoughts I was losing track of the topic at hand. 

        “But I had a very good reason for lying Tabs.  Look what it got me.” 

        That look of slightly stifled exasperation.  Well I knew it.  “So very good changes the equation?” 

        “Doesn’t it change one of the variables?”  I’d no idea if it did but it showed promise. 

        “Variables don’t affect this equation Dandy.  The logic of your initial statement presupposed a distinction between a reason, good, bad, or very good, and presumably no reason whatsoever.  And those politicos were no doubt lying to you and everyone else for reasons of their own.  Can’t you admit you just went down the wrong track?” 

        I could admit it but I wasn’t so inclined.  “Look, to say that one lies for a reason implies a moral approbation of that reason.  So “very” ups the ante.” 

        “Ante?  ‘Stakes” I should think.” 

        “One of the two.  Or both.  But since everyone has a reason for lying, stating that one has a reason can’t be merely an empty expression.  One is obviously insinuating that one’s reasons are superior to those run-of-the-mill liars.”  Whew, I was back in the game. 

        “That’s not what you said at first Dandy.  But let’s consider your amended statement which is, I think, ‘I lie for better reasons than most liars.’  In that you may have a point.  But you have to admit that I drew it out of you and your original boast was ill-considered and vacuous.  Concede that and we can move on to the fun part of the evening.” 

        I reflected.  I’d genuflect if I was surer what it meant.  “You’re right Tabitha.  Nolo contendere.  I’m throwing in the towel.  And now for the rest of the evening?”

 

        You see, I do lie for a reason.

Views: 178

Comment by koshersalaami on November 20, 2015 at 6:21am

I was answering a sort of open call, the writers' group weekly assignment that Alyssa gives out. So I answered it but the topic wasn't mine. I so rarely write fiction that it wouldn't be. 

But nice job on this. 

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on November 20, 2015 at 6:59am

very good piece  :)

Comment by Rodney Roe on November 20, 2015 at 7:56am

People do lie for a reason and sometimes I am not sure they know what it is.  We have friend who tells elaborate white lies.  The fibs are usually about where she has been or where she is going to be.  She will tell you, for example, that she and hubby are going to watch a football game on Saturday when, in fact, they have been invited to a party or dinner or some fete, or they are having one.  She tells the lie before you ask.  I think she doesn't want us to feel hurt by being left off the list, or worse yet explain why we were.  She is very smart.  She has to be to remember all of the complicated lies, who she has told them to, and what version.  And, if we are not being lied to she readily confesses that she told someone else one.  I'm sure so we won't tell a conflicting story.

It is rarely necessary and often she tells the truth as things unfold. ("We only have a place at the table for eight and Bill's cousin told us that he and his wife were coming at the last moment, and now they have cancelled." So, now we are invited.)

She is a genuine friend of a quarter century.  We just know how to filter her stories.  And, I guess, she has reasons for telling the lies that we don't or can't know.

And, of course, I always tell the truth.

Comment by Zanelle on November 20, 2015 at 8:51am

I was friends with a pathological liar in college and it was fascinating.  He really had his whole life mapped out and then late one night he had to tell us all it was a lie.  Heavy.  I don't like to lie and Im trying to tell my granddaughter about lies but then it gets confused with jokes and tricks and it gets complicated.

Comment by JMac1949 Today on November 20, 2015 at 9:09am

"...People do lie for a reason and sometimes I am not sure they know what it is..." To that I would add this, there are people who seek attention with their lies.  Others try to manipulate people with their lies. ISIS/ISIL, al-Qaeda and Ansar Dine come to mind along with George W, Bush and Dick Cheney.  They are pathological and their lies destroy lives.

Comment by Myriad on November 20, 2015 at 9:50am

There are people whose reason for lying is a brain quirk.  I knew a woman who told fabulous unbelievable tales.  Google being my friend, I discovered the term mythomania.  Also, in relation to some of her medical tales, Munchausen's.

I've often lied about minor things just to avoid nonsense and to avoid hurting feelings.  "Sorry, busy." "Oops, gotta hang up - something on the stove."

Comment by koshersalaami on November 20, 2015 at 10:18am

I prefer "oops, gotta hang up - someone on the stove."

Comment by Rodney Roe on November 20, 2015 at 11:57am

Some people are pathological liars.  They usually make up a story that makes them seem interesting/mysterious/important.  I once asked for a relative's email address.  His wife told me that he had a new job with the government that came with a top secret clearance and couldn't give out his email address.  he was actually unemployed. "I don't want to give it out" would have been sufficient.  That was just one example of her fantastic stories.  I was never sure whether it was deliberate or a matter of confabulation.

Comment by JMac1949 Today on November 20, 2015 at 12:08pm

Z, On the other hand there's Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy...Miss Five can believe in them for as long as she cares.  BTW: Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny carry a kernel of ancient mythical truth.

Comment by Ron Powell on November 20, 2015 at 12:47pm
Never tell a lie that you don't wish to be the truth.

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