Next week I’ll be at Bouchercon, the annual world mystery conference, to be held in San Francisco this year.
My first panel is on Thursday, October 15, 11:30 AM: Web of Lies—The Liar’s Panel, with Jeri Westerson, Simon Wood, and Judy Clemens.
My mother should be on this panel; she was a great liar. It’s the one thing I admired about her.
She always had a cover story.
I’d hear a neighbor tell her how he missed work because he just didn’t feel like going. Now he was worried about getting fired.
My mother to the rescue: “You can always say the furnace broke and the baby was sick and you had to fix it or the baby would have gotten worse.”
Many of her lies started that way:
“You can always say you found the money on the table after the party.”
“You can always say you didn’t even put the dress on before you noticed the seam was ripped.”
As far as I know, my mother’s lies never harmed anyone. Her “You can always say …” lies were meant to protect her friends and relatives from a cruel, compassionless world.
Other lies were to protect our meager fortune or raise our standing in the neighborhood.
“Everyone loves my ravioli,” she might say. Then she would invoke her rule of 3, where she would triple any number to make a story more impressive. “I made 12 dozen,” she’d say, whereas she’d made only 4 dozen. Her point was made.
She never told the lies other mothers told—like, there’s a Santa Claus and an Easter Bunny. None of that fantasy world touched us. My mother’s lies were more down to earth, having to do with the number of ravioli she cooked, or the number of hours she spent keeping the kitchen floor waxed (6, which is to say, 2).
Lies of biblical proportions
Hyperbole is a figure of speech, using exaggeration to evoke strong feelings or to make a point. When you use hyperbole, are you also lying? If so, Jesus and his ghost writers were the biggest liars of them all. Come on—five loaves, two fishes, and five thousand hungry men?
The mash-up of Gospel writers meant to convey that after hearing Jesus, the men no longer felt hungry, so the meager amount of food was plenty. OR, he was so inspiring that many who had bread and fish in their pockets (eeuw!) were moved to share, thus all were fed. Who cares if they lied; they made a point and it’s a good one—we don’t live by bread alone.
I like the symmetry of blogging on my birth day, so I checked out what day I was born on. I was surprised to find it was a Thursday, just as my mother had told me.
She always told us that her miserable life was due to her being born on Friday the 13th. A nice myth, but April 13, 1909 was a Tuesday. The bad luck came from somewhere else. Still, my mother’s point was made; her life was as if she’d born on an unlucky day.
A prize for your lies!
By next Thursday I have to come up with some good lies, and my mother isn’t around. Any ideas? A prize to whoever comes up with one I can use on the panel.