It is not unusual to hear actors recount the moment on stage when they first made some-one laugh or cry and that was it, they were hooked, and from that day forward they knew exactly their purpose in life. I had a moment like that too, except, it was the first time I told a lie.
I was six years old standing on a mound of snow in a corner of the schoolyard trying to make clear to my kindergarten mates the difference between half and whole siblings and why, because both my parents had been married before, I had a smattering of both. This was Anglo-Montreal mid-1960’s and what I was telling them was pretty risqué, even so, as I looked into their enthralled faces, I knew I had to take my family story and run riot. I couldn’t be sure, I told them, that there weren’t many more potential half siblings lurking out there, after all, my father, a professional race car driver (he had raced a few races in England, never professionally) had lots of women throwing themselves at him (true, but I couldn’t have known that then) and that he only married my mother because she was famous (she had a column in a newspaper) and because she had threatened to strap me to the hood of his formula one car and abandon me forever rather than be left alone to raise a bastard child.
They are rather crude lies, I will admit, but I see that day as my true birth and the frisson, joy, and freedom of taking a kernel of truth and making it infinitely more interesting has held me in its grips ever since. Unfortunately, for me, there isn’t much of a career to be had in lying unless of course, you are a politician but then everyone knows you’re a liar so where’s the fun in that?
There are those who would say that I lie because I’m insecure, delusional, a boaster, not to be trusted. Yep.
After the Brian Williams story broke, one night lying in bed I began to wonder if I was so far gone, like he appears to be, that I couldn’t tell anymore which parts of my life were real. Is my IQ ridiculously high? If so, why am I such an idiot? Did Mickey Rourke beg me to sleep with him? If so, why didn’t I? Back in the day I slept with everyone, or did I? Did I really get malaria in Africa, or was it something boring like a rumbly tummy? Was I nearly kidnapped by a man on a horse in Turkey? Then I thought, who cares, the story is a good one.
My mind still roving freely my blood suddenly ran cold. Before me loomed my future and a new scary reality: the indisputable truth. With the cloud, surveillance cameras, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, GPS and god knows what other truth-ware stalking us rooting out fibs and fabrications, what chance do us liars have?
I was feeling pretty grim until something occurred to me. Yes, I ceded, there will be some awful truthful years, it might even last long enough to, in the light of history, be given a name like The Boring As Shit Epoch and there will be victims like Brian Williams, good liars who will be vilified and shunned from society. But one day, long mired in truth, we will rebel. The world, we’ll cry, can’t be this flat! So, even with cold hard facts staring us in the face, we won’t believe because the truth isn’t what we humans are all about. We, and we alone are raconteurs, spinners of yarns, rakes, rogues, story-tellers and that is no lie.