Lying is Like a Superpower


When life gives you lemons…make up a story about saving pretty girls from a tiger.
Unsplash photo. Attribution appreciated but not required. Photo by Keyur Nandaniy.

Though Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbour. Exodus 20:16

One of ten seminal directives issued directly from the mouth of God Himself, the ninth commandment against professing falsehood represents arguably the most foundational metric of human character. A willingness to lie, while an apparently necessary skill in the world of law or politics, is generally derided as a negative thing. However, when skillfully wielded the surgical application of subterfuge can indeed be a combat multiplier.

Our hero was a 12-year-old from a nearby community who presented to the children’s hospital with a ruptured appendix. He lived maybe 45 minutes from the modest city where I plied my trade. For sake of this tale we’ll bestow upon him the nom de guerre Bailey. Bailey was just sick as stink.

We took Bailey to the operating theater, cleaned out his belly, and put him on the floor of the hospital to recover. Given the sordid state of his entrails, his sojourn in the hospital would be about five days. As soon as he was lucid post-op I informed him that he needed to come up with some cool story to tell his friends to explain why he was in the hospital, something cooler than his appendix ruptured. He assured me he would indeed do so.

Five days later I went up to discharge Bailey and queried as to what he had contrived. He said he was vexed. He couldn’t come up with anything. I said, “Well, how about this?” Every syllable that follows is true.

“How about you tell your school buddies that your parents took you to the local zoo? While at the zoo the Swedish Ski Team was debuting their new line of designer swimwear, a bunch of gorgeous Scandinavian babes in bikinis, but you didn’t care because you were twelve.”

“As you wandered off to check out the monkey cages there arose a mighty commotion. It seems a tiger had escaped from the zoo and was attacking these gorgeous babes. Everybody was paralyzed in fear, everybody but you.”

“You leapt into action and engaged in mortal combat with the snarling jungle beast. With great difficulty and at tremendous peril to your person you wrestled the massive cat back into its enclosure, incurring this modest wound on your side. As a result you were committed to spending five days in the hospital recovering.”

“When your friends voice skepticism as there was no mention of your exploits in the local newspaper you explain thusly. The zoo used their influence with the paper to cover up the story. If word got out that tigers were escaping from the zoo, nobody would go to the zoo. What do you think?”

Bailey looked at me like I had three heads, so I just shrugged my shoulders, signed his paperwork, and bid him farewell. I thought little else of it.

Three weeks later I had another kid come into the hospital from Bailey’s little town. I went up to get to know the young man and innocently asked if he had ever been in the hospital before. He replied, “No, but there’s this kid in my school who was attacked by a tiger…”

He went on to relate the whole story to me. He told me about the girls and the tiger and the conspiracy with the newspaper to suppress the story. I responded, “Yeah, Bailey, the tiger attack guy. We couldn’t take care of him for all the hot Swedish chicks up here smooching on him all the time.”

A grand time was had by all. More than two years later I was working in a local Orthopedic clinic. A guy I didn’t know walked into an exam room and lit up like a light bulb. He went on to explain that I had made his son famous.

This was Bailey’s dad. He said they had passed that story all around town whenever well-meaning folks had asked why Bailey had been in the hospital. That outlandish tale earned young Bailey quite a bit of notoriety thereabouts.

So, I’m not encouraging you to wander about lying to people. Rather, just make the best of a bad situation. If you find yourself in the hospital or in some similarly dire straits just make up some cool story to justify it. If your friends don’t believe you just have them call me. Folks will believe any fool thing a doctor says. It’s like having a superpower.

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