Tales of the Pointless and Annoying
The Liar's Tale
by Doug Miller
“Just remember, it's not a lie if you believe it.” - George Costanza on Seinfeld.
I have never been a good liar. This isn't to say I don't try. It's just that I learned at an early age that I wasn't very good at it and there were always repercussions. I remember when I was in kindergarten my mom asked why I cut my hair. I quickly calculated the possible responses to the truth and decided that lying was the best option. "I didn't cut my hair." So far so good, she seems to be buying it. "Well if you didn't cut your hair, who did?" Uh oh. Hmmm... If I blamed my brothers they would probably punish me for trying to get them in trouble. Then, an inspiration, "My teacher cut it." "Oh really." Whew! I'm glad that's over. Mom's decided to go talk on the phone. Loudly. Needless to say I set off a chain of events that resulted in a loss of privileges both at home and at school. Not to mention a haircut that suggested I had just received a partial lobotomy.
[*Sigh* A good opening line, but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Perhaps I should scrap this whole idea. But at least I’ve started writing and that’s always the tricky part. Let me smoke a cigarette and think about where this is going. Crap! I’m out. Hold on, I’ll walk across the street to Circle K.]
[Back now. As I was walking out of the store this guy was hanging up the phone and then he dejectedly lowered his head against the top. He asked if I could help him. He said that his daughter had just been in a rollover accident out by Safford. She and her two children were being Med-EVACed to Tucson and he was trying to get to the hospital. Angel Transport, a local taxi service, would take him for $49.50, but he was $14.85 short. He shows me his driver’s license, says he lives right around the block, works in town, and will pay me back next week. Wow, suddenly my problem with writing a clever story about being a liar seems inconsequential. Of course I’ll help. All I have is a ten, but every little bit counts. Don’t worry about paying me back. Good luck, I hope they’re ok. I’m sitting in my chair now feeling like a pretty nice guy. I feel validated by this experience. I don’t feel like writing though, I’ll pick it up again next week.]
While I’m a lousy liar, my next younger brother Mike is an incredible liar when he wants to be. In our early teens we went through this Dungeons and Dragons phase where we just had to swordfight. After destroying Ted's golf clubs we moved on to breaking the handles off of every broom, mop, and spatula in the house. For some reason Dad did not share our enthusiasm for this new hobby. Fed up, he went to some obscure store and bought what should have been the last broom he would ever have to buy. This thing was more than five inches in diameter and made out of, I don't know solid oak or something. Sometimes the things we say come back to bite us in the ass at unsuspecting times. For me it was back when I said, "I wish I made enough money to be able to complain about taxes." For my dad it was when he presented us with the new broom and said, "I'd like to see you break this one."
This was in the pre-HBO days when cable television was in its infancy. We had just discovered Bruce Lee and a host of imitators making wonderful Karate movies. Naturally we had to go outside, find every available piece of scrap lumber around, and practice our leaping kicks. Flush with our successful defense of the back yard from evil ninja two-by-fours, we came inside and saw the broom. Bill, Mike, and me exchanged “dare ya'” glances. We started half heartedly at first, knowing that breaking this broom would be a Very Bad Thing. But we quickly realized that it was impossible to break this broom. Cool! For the next month or so whenever we were bored we would have a quick sparring session with the broom. It always won. Once we realized it really was impossible to break we would just go nuts on that thing. I can't even remember who finally broke the broom. I just remember all of us sitting in the dining room being interrogated by my dad. I couldn't look him in the eye, but I wasn't about to spill my guts. That's when Mike told one of his all time worst lies. "I think that it was leaning against the wall and I saw Tony jumping on it." Tony was our dog, some kind of poodle mongrel mix that probably weighed all of twenty pounds. My dad just shook his head and walked off.
[Well, it’s getting better. Mike always did tell the dumbest lies. That freaking broom was just huge. John couldn’t even get his hand to wrap all the way around it. Shoot, it’s almost 7:00! I need to go over to Rich and Amy’s house to watch “Hell Comes To Frogtown”. It’s gonna suck, but I did give it to him for Christmas after all.]
[Later that night. Okay, this is just weird. I stopped over at Circle K to get some beer and the exact same guy that I gave money to about a week and a half ago stopped me in the parking lot. I thought he recognized me and was going to pay me back, but instead he told me the exact same sob story about his daughter being in a rollover just outside of Safford with her two kids in the car. He even went through the same big production of showing me his driver’s license and telling me where he lived. I was just blown away. I was so stunned and it seemed so awkward that before I even thought to call him on it I was reaching in my pocket and handing him a couple of dollars. What a jerk! Him too, but mostly me. Here I thought I was a nice guy making a difference and instead I’m a chump. I imagine myself as a cartoon character with my head replaced by a lollipop with the word ‘Sucker’ written across it in big letters. I no longer feel validated. And I’m never going to finish this stupid story.]
For the worst lie Mike ever told we have to flash forward a few years to when he was a rebellious teenager who wasn't allowed to drive. To get around this, Mike “borrowed” Mom’s keys and made duplicates of them. My parents worked second shift and left around two in the afternoon. This left Mike free to take the massive Anniversary Edition Olds Delta 98 out cruising. Mike swears that he was always careful to keep the gas level close enough to where he started so that they wouldn't notice. If only he had paid as much attention to how he parked the car he might have continued to get away with it. He remembers coming home one day and seeing my dad staring at the car and rubbing his chin, a sure sign he had already figured out all he needed to know. "Michael, I don't remember parking the car with the front wheels on the grass. Any idea how it got there?"
[One week later. Unbelievable! I decided to take a break and run into town but the car needed gas. I stopped to fill up at Circle K and I see the same guy dejectedly hanging up the phone, leaning his head on top, and then starting to walk over. He starts to ask if I can help him but I cut him off and say that normally I’d love to help but my daughter was just in a rollover accident outside of Safford and I need to fill this car up and rush to Tucson to see if she and her two children are alright. I’m fairly certain that the confused look on his face matches the one that was on mine the last time we talked. He tells me he hopes it all works out and skulks off. Call me an insensitive jerk, but I feel validated again.]
Filling me in on the details later, Mike told me, "I knew I had two options…” Neither one was the truth " My first thought was to tell him that I was sweeping out the garage and I was so bored that I decided to jack the car up so I could sweep under it. But I didn't think he'd buy that. So instead I told him that Eddie and a bunch of my other friends came over and they all leaned on the car at once and it just, sort of... slid."
"In the middle of summer?" I ask, "On dry pavement? You said that five skinny teenagers leaned on that massive car and it slid sideways?" Amazed, I continue, "Don't you think they would have left... well butt prints or something embedded in the side of the car? So what did Dad say?"
"He just looked at me for a really long time, shook his head, and said, “You really don't give me much credit, do you?'"
Well, at least he didn't try to blame it on the dog.
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