Dime Store Philosophy:
Lies Your Friends Told You
By Ismael Manzano
Come on in to the Dime Store, today we have a buy-one-get-one-free sale; one piece of advice with any anecdote you buy. Our selection is limited to what I type, so you might be a little out of luck–enjoy. Today’s merchandise was shipped into my store via an old memory highway about an old friend I used to know. You can guess by the above title this is not a pensive remembrance of a happy relationship, but rather an angry diatribe–which I very seldom get to do, but am told I do well.
So I was thinking about an old friend and the antics that led him to become an ex-friend and it occurred to me just how ridiculous all of his statements were. So ridiculous as to be both funny and sad at the same time, and I thought there might be others out there with either the problem I used to have with him or with his problem themselves. Either way, either side could use a touch of wisdom.
His problem? He was a habitual liar, which is just a fancy way of saying, he couldn’t tell the truth to save his life. My problem? I let him get away with it for way longer than I should have. Let’s start with his problem. Though I never spoke to him about this in great detail, save for the one time I told him I didn’t believe his latest outrageous story (I’ll get back to that actual story later), I hypothesize that his lies were a way of seeking attention. More than that, I think he lied to make himself feel important. More than that, I think he lied to make other people think he was important. Whatever his reasons for them, he couldn’t get through a day without telling one lie or another and it was always so obvious and so insane that I felt like an idiot for not pointing them out to him. And the more I kept my mouth shut, the more outlandish the lies became until I actually stopped caring that he was lying and just enjoyed the soap-opera-like narrative he spun for me day after day. Of course, that was my failing in the friendship. Had I exposed his lie right off the bat, maybe he would have stopped doing it before it got to the crazy point that it reached.
In my defense, however, it wasn’t as though he spat out crazy gibberish from the first day I met him. No, actually the first few lies were spaced far apart and seemed somewhat plausible up front. He was computer savvy and I was not, so when he told me that he’d created an anti-virus program that worked like a virus, I suppressed my commonsense opinion and thought, ‘oh, that’s amazing,’ and just nodded at him. It wasn’t until I tried to tell someone else what he had told me that I realize how absurd his claim truly was. First of all, he was janitor–not that there’s anything wrong with that–but if he was indeed able to write an anti-virus program that worked as a virus–he probably wouldn’t be working as a janitor. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt for a while, and when I realized what he said did not make sense, I assumed the fault rested on me, that I had misunderstood him. But deep down, I knew he was full of it.
Still, I indulged his fantasy and did him the favor not to bring it up again so he wouldn’t have to repeat the lie. And when he told me he wrote a program that could cause a computer to overload and explode–but only when someone is typing at the keys–thus killing the user, I chose to pretend he was just teasing me and had not actually expected me to believe the story. At the time, I thought I was helping him by ignoring his plea for attention; at the time, I thought I was being generous by not deflating his ego. How wrong I was.
In the end of our friendship, the lies got so spectacularly retarded that it felt like an insult to be told it. It wasn’t about the lie, it was more about his belief that all my combined brain cells were comparable to those of a stroked out roach. And that’s how stupid I would have had to be to believe some of these lies. What I should have done, what a friend should do, is to address the issue, not the lies. A friend should say, “Hey, I think you have a problem,” or “Just so you know, you don’t need to do this to be my friend,” or something to that effect. What a friend should not do, is ignore, because it opens the door for even more lies and, helps no one, in the end.
TANGENT: Why did Sherlock Holmes always say “The game is afoot,” when he caught whiff of a good mystery? Was he a fetishist? Did he not actually understand that a body part is not actually the same thing as a crime? Did he have athlete’s afoot? Or was he just pretentious and wanted to say something fancy and intelligent-sounding rather than something more straightforward and apt like, “I’m going to solve this mystery!” Or, “I’ll get that criminal!” Or “Damn! That hooker got dead! Better get outta here before someone thinks I did it!”
How bad did the lies get, you might ask. Try these on for size. He told me that he’d built a robot that cleaned his house; He drafted designs to make a functional lightsaber; He used to have scoliosis, but his brother bear hugged him and it straightened his spine; He once fell off a cliff but was spared a horrific death when his wristwatch caught on jagged rock, suspending him in midair. He got engaged to an 18year old girl from Nebraska who tragically fell off her favorite horse, knocking her into a coma from which she awoke with complete recall except for anything about him. Oh, and my personal favorite, he once Force choked his in-law (for those of you not knowledgeable of Star Wars, a Force choke is an ability a user of the mystical telekinetic power of the Force wields to suffocate an opponent using only the strength of the user’s mind).
Other, not so funny lies included telling my wife he knew people in the music industry back when she was trying to break into that business and me that he could help publish my manuscript back when I was still actively writing novels. And these are just the ones I can remember. There were tons more, ranging from mundane to malice. The bottom line though is that he did not trust us enough to be himself around us and he did not respect us enough to cut out the crap and try to get to know us. It was an act from beginning to end and we never really knew one another. Friends like that are not friends at all, just a waste of time...or a good laugh if their stories are outlandish enough.
So if you find yourself with a friend like this, do yourself the favor and cut them loose before they become entrenched in your life, because if they don’t stop lying, the friendship will go south eventually–might as well make it on your own terms rather than theirs. Whatever their reasons for continuing the lies, it’s not your responsibility to fix nor should it be your burden. If you choose to get involved and do get your hands dirty in that mess, then all the more power to you–you’re a better man than I. But be warned, even if the liar will admit to having a problem telling the truth due to some unfulfilled childhood need for his father’s attention, can you ever truly be sure that’s not also a lie?
Hope you enjoyed my Dime Store; we don’t validate parking.