3 Dangerous Lies


We all lie: it’s built into our psyche.  I’m pretty sure that somewhere back in caveman days, somebody looked around and said, “Does this sabretooth pelt make me look fat?”  And her mate grunted the equivalent of, “No, darling!  It’s perfect.”  Thus our species continued populating the Earth.  Personally, I think lying is an essential part of civilization.  It gets us through social situations, keeps our friends and enemies in line and helps us not look like jerks – most of the time.  Plus, in general, lying is no big deal.  The rewards are large and the consequences quite small.  However, sometimes lies can be dangerous.  These are the lies we tell ourselves.  Here are just three examples.

1 – Remember, back in school when Brittany, Class President, hooked you into helping with the Annual Charity Drive because “It’ll be fun!”  And remember how is wasn’t because, while she and her friends were up at the dance, “collecting” non-perishable food items, you spent the evening down in the school basement, working your ass off, sorting cans of tuna and packages of macaroni.  Remember that?  So how come you’re phoning everybody in the family (on both sides) and saying, “We’re doing Christmas at our house this year.  C’mon over for dinner.  It’ll be fun!”

2 — Normally, this lie comes right after some celebrity TV know-it-all has created a beautiful gingerbread sculpture shaped like the British House of Parliament.  You watched them fashion this marvel — from finding fresh ginger at the local farmer’s market to carving out the wooden molds on a lathe.  They’ve spun sugar to a transparent sheen for the windows and even installed battery-operated lights – all in less than 30 minutes!  So, you say to yourself, “That looks easy” and go out a buy a Gingerbread House kit from the grocery store.  Two weekends and three Gingerbread House kits later, your own mother won’t speak to you, the kids have filed a restraining order and whatever’s left of the gingerbread mess is sitting in the corner – where you threw it.

3 — Once again, this lie started in school.  Your term project was due at the end of the semester, and that was three months away.  Three months!  That’s a lifetime when you’re a teenager.  So, you decided to do a kick-ass/best ever treatise on the Pre-Cambrian Shield – complete with rock samples, charts, hand-drawn illustrations and a working model of a Canadian glacier because, you say to yourself, “I’ve got plenty of time.”  And you keep saying that for the next 2 months and 27 days while your project slowly melts away like that glacier you’re never going to build.  Finally, you end up with 10 pages (double-spaced) that you borrowed from an encyclopedia (no Wikipedia in those days) a Xeroxed copy of an aerial photograph of Ontario and couple of stones from your garden . . . .

Well, folks!  Today is the 4th of December, and Christmas is exactly three weeks away.  Just sayin’!


I’m Not A Cynic, But …

bicycle-1455776_1920When I was a child, I thought that most of my friends were just a little bit higher up on the scrotum pole than I was.  I didn’t have low self-esteem or anything.  First of all, that’s a modern affectation, and secondly, I was a very confident kid.  It was just that they always seemed to have cool stuff going on while I was permanently chained to ordinary.  For example, my buddy Wilfred and I both had bikes, but he also had another one that was way better than mine. It was Toronto Maple Leaf’s blue and white (just like in the Sears catalogue) but it also had a basket so he could get a job delivering groceries and such when he got older.  Plus, it was a CCM (just like in the Sears catalogue) — the Holy Grail of two-wheeled transportation in our neighbourhood.  Unfortunately, Wilfred’s parents made him keep it at his grandmother’s house, so I never actually got to see this magnificent conveyance — but I certainly believed it was there.  There were other stories, too: Dorothy Becker’s cousin had met The Beatles, Kelvin’s uncle was going to give him his entire collection of winning marbles from the time when he was World Champion, and Doug Sanders’ dad had won the war — when he secretly shot Hilter.*  Yes, I was a naive youth and even today, I’m embarrassed by the number of years it took me to realize that Wilfred’s extra bike only existed in the pages of the Sears catalogue.  However, I bear no animosity to the Wilfreds of the world.  This is just what people do  They have a burning need to look good, and sometimes they’re willing to bend reality into a circus of contortions to get there.

Think about it!

Even though used car salesman has become synonymous with shyster, when was the last time anybody didn’t get a great deal on a used car?  I’ll tell you when.  My 1963 Triumph Spitfire — $300.00 to buy it, $1600.00 in estimated repairs and 85 bucks to tow it away.  However, since the day I waved that piece of junk goodbye, I haven’t heard of one person on this planet who didn’t get a totally smokin’ deal, buying somebody else’s automotive problems.  Not one!  In fact, I’m surprised, given that every used car in the last 40 years was sold at cost or below, that there are any used car dealerships left in the world.

It’s the same with Vegas.  I don’t know anyone, or know anyone who knows anyone who lost money in Las Vegas.  Ask anyone who has just returned from the Seed of Greed in America, and they will tell you either: a) “I came out about even” or b) “I won enough to pay for the trip.”  Nobody says, “Holy crap! That place is so totally cool we spent way more money than we thought we were going to … but it was worth it.”  Oddly enough, people will sometimes say that about Paris, London, New York or San Francisco — but never Vegas.  Nope!  The first thing out of their mouth is how much money they didn’t lose.  Even though everybody knows, in the end, the house always wins, and the boys running the casinos didn’t build them so we could all take our money home with us.

And it goes on and on — mortgage rates, computer prices, cell phone plans, extended warranties, etc., etc., etc.  There’s no end to the wonderful stuff that always seems to happen — to other people.  I’m not a cynic, but … these days, when I hear someone puttin’ on the brag about something that seems too good to be true, I usually figure it is.  Thanks, Wilfred!

*Just to clarify, I didn’t spend my childhood surrounded by a pack of pathological liars.  These stories (and a select few others) happened in three different locations over the better part of 18 years.

Some People . . .

crowdPeople are wonderful creatures.  They come in infinite varieties, and just when you think you’ve got them figured out, they come up with something completely different and surprise you.  It’s no wonder so many psychiatrists need therapy.  I’ve studied people (informally) most of my life, and I’ve arrived at a few interesting conclusions.

Some people are not supposed to swear.  I’m not talking about nuns or like that; I’m talking about the folks who don’t get it right.  The ones who are trying way too hard to sound badass, and it just comes out weird.  It’s as if they saw the words in a book and looked up the pronunciation.  (Adding the final “g” is always a dead giveaway.)

Some people stink.  No, not poor personal hygiene — that’s different.  These are the folks who apply fragrance like it’s a contest.  The ones who leave that tinny taste in your mouth when they walk past you.

Some people can’t tell a good story.  They start off alright, but then they wander all over the place, trying to explain every detail.  So, what begins as a quick-and-dirty about getting caught in the cat-door fades away — finally — ten minutes later, somewhere in Michigan, riding in Uncle Benny’s green ’82 Pontiac.

Some people shouldn’t be allowed to drink.  Sad people, angry people, touchy/feely people, people who cry a lot, but mostly those people who have one glass of wine and act like they’re auditioning for a Seth Rogen movie.

Some people shouldn’t be parents.  We all know who those people are.

Some people work for the government.  These are the people who know all the rules, what documents you need and what forms you have to fill out, but they take a perverse pleasure in keeping all that information secret for as long as possible.

Some people don’t own a mirror.  There’s no other logical explanation.  Why would anybody (who can see themselves) go out in public wearing an electric-pink angora sweater, matching hat, Daisy Duke short shorts and lumberjack work boots?

But my favourite is:

Some people aren’t all that smart.  This isn’t a problem; it’s just a fact.  The problem is the rest of us are too scared to mention it because of — uh — Stupid Shaming? — or some other such nonsense.  The result is the world is full of stupid people, running around doing stupid stuff, and we all have to act like we don’t notice.