Monday, November 10, 2008

The truth is

Do you embellish? I’m not talking about with a bedazzler, what you do with rhinestones in the privacy of your own home is none of my business. I mean, you know, do you add a little here and there to make things more interesting? James Frey did it, and I have heard it claimed that most memoirs have been spiced up to make them more appealing to the reader. It makes sense, I suppose, not too many people’s lives can be captivating all the time.

I know someone who has a signal she uses to let those “in the know” –know that she’s adding. She’s not at all embarrassed about the fact that when she’s telling you a story it’s been tweaked. In fact she thinks she’s doing us a favor, no one wants to listen to a boring story right?

I have another friend who tells about all of these outrageous things that have supposedly happened to her. The first couple of times you think “wow, she has an interesting life.” But after a while it wears off and you think (or at least I think) “nobody has this many crazy experiences.” The thing is, most of them are feasible, but the embellishment gives it away. Normal life is not always outrageous.

When I’m writing or telling a story, I try to stay within the lines, my fear is that someone could read this who attended the same event and call me out. How embarrassing would that be? (Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!!)

Then there are those who are just flat out liars.

One of my friends openly admits that she’s a good liar. She’s almost boasting when she tells you. She doesn’t feel guilty at all. The problem is now I don’t believe anything she says. I mean, why would she lie to everyone else and not to me? I think I would rather not know that she’s an excuse maker upper (among other things).

I just realized that this is making me sound like my friends are a bunch of losers, maybe I need to get out more, or join a support group, though it seems like you’d be more likely to meet dishonest people in support groups, but that’s probably just my skewed perception.

Anyhow, now that you know I spend my time with fabricators, one more. I have this friend who has for years told me what a great guy her husband was, to the point that it was almost too good to be true, not to mention if you spent anytime with the guy you had your doubts. Now they are divorcing and she is telling me all of these horrible things about him with the excuse that she didn’t want me to know before because she was embarrassed, which I buy, but now she’s angry and I think she might be exaggerating his faults to make him look worse (which believe me is not necessary, he does a fine job of making himself look like the creep that he is).

I am a nervous person, I would rather be boring than have to worry about keeping track of who knows what. How about you? Do you pretend to be something you’re not? I’m obviously not going to think less of you, I mean, really, all of my friend are phonies. Tomorrow I’ll tell you about my cronies who are bank robbers.


Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Most of the time...it is how I present it. Sometimes when I write for a contest or some creative writing scheme...I embellish for the sake of the reader! :)

Becky said...

Bank robbers? Awesome!

You know, I try to keep it pretty real. It gets tiring trying to remember all the different versions of your life. Why not stick with just one?

I once had a roommate who "embellished" everything. She seemed so funny at first, but it turned into, oh crap, here she goes again...

The Crash Test Dummy said...

I have a LOT of opinions about this.

Trust is the most valuable commodity you can have. If it's broken it takes forever to regain. I don't think it's a good idea to mess with trust by making excuses or falsifying your relationships or your life events or your credentials.

I think it's only okay to lie if you tell your listener and your reader you're embellishing or if it's completely obvious. And there are only certain things that are within limits to lie about. Silly things. Inconsequential things.

Motivation for lying is also important. I only feel good about embellishing if it's to illuminate truth (and if my listener/reader knows that's what I'm doing.)

I just hate manipulation or pretense!

Your verifier says gamers.

How insightful.

Cheryle said...

When I got serious about genealogy several years ago, I quickly learned how "embellishing" can be problematic. My grandfather was a voracious writer (I'm transcribing a HUGE stack of paper that's his memoirs), and I've discovered so much that just wasn't true. But it's taken a long time to do it.

Unfortunately, most of it had made it way to me - and therefore to my children - as fact. Hard to undo what's been done. So I try my best to keep it factual.

Why don't *I* ever get interesting verifiers? I have yet to get a real word. (Hah! Maybe I'm not a real person!)