Friday, January 15, 2010

Lying: A Personal Experience


An anonymous reader asked in the comments section to the last post if I am capable of lying.

In terms of not volunteering certain facts, I have done this a number of times when I thought someone would be damaged by it, or would be driven to destructive behaviour by it. This can be a dangerous habit to get into, but then, in real life, there are sometimes circumstances in which certain truths would be devastating to people; and in fact, I can think of one example where I still wonder if telling someone all I knew was really the right thing to do. The truth, in that case, was devastating and debilitating. Maybe keeping my mouth shut would have been better...

Regarding the more obvious lies of commission, especially for the purpose of personal gain: I have a visceral aversion to these. I choke even on telling white lies for some reason, even when I want to tell them so as to make someone feel better. I dislike being lied to and I make it a rule to not lie to others (though I can imagine where lying might be morally justifiable). I honestly can say that I don't remember lying like this, except for the example below. It was a spectacular failure of an attempt, and it remains a good reminder to me to keep things straight up.

In 1999, when my record came out, I did a lot of traveling. This wore me down; I'd be home for a day or two, then off again for five days, then home for a day, then off again for three, then home for a week, then off for ten days, etc. And a typical day on one of these trips was, get up at 5, shower, get car to the TV station for the early morning show at 7....go all day doing interviews at radio, etc., play evening show, and then finally get into bed at 2 AM after a big dinner with the local Sony people, then up again at 5 to get an airplane to the next city. So I got worn down a few times.

Well, on one occasion, I landed in Vancouver (we lived in White Rock at the time) and drove home (45 minutes), arriving at night. I spent time with the kids and my wife, then tried to sleep, but couldn't, even though I was exhausted.

I had to get up very early the next morning and fly out again, this time to Denver, and I was literally almost falling asleep at the check-in counter. I said, "Look - I'm falling asleep and as soon as I land, I gotta go perform on TV. Can you please put me in a row of three, where the other two seats aren't assigned, so I can lay down?"

So the lady said, "We have the very back row clear. The chairs don't recline, but that won't matter if you're laying down sleeping across all three". I said great, and I was on my way.

So I get on the plane, and I was so tired I actually felt *pain*, which I don't think I'd ever felt before from exhaustion. I sit down next to the window eagerly awaiting take off so I can lay down and pass out. Everyone was seated and ready to go. And then, disaster struck.

Some big goofy cowboy looking dude and his trashy wife stumbled on to the plane, and headed down the aisle right toward me.

"Oh no.....no.....it can't be", I thought. I glanced around, but there were no other open seats...no!

And sure enough, they got to the back, glanced at their tickets, and plopped right in the two seats next to me. Inside, I felt a kind of desperate panic. I must sleep. I must sleep!

Anyway, I don't know what the hell happened in my head, but in that moment of panic, I mumbled, "no - no, wait, don't sit down" and blocked the seats lol. The flight attendant, who was right there, said, "Is there a problem?"

And I said, pleadingly, "yeah, I need these seats, I gotta sleep". And then, in my half asleep state, I remember saying, "All three of these are mine"!

So the flight attendant snapped, "You're trying to tell me you bought *three tickets* for this flight, and these are all yours?".

Great idea, I thought. And I sort of feebly choked out the words, "uh - um...yeah!".

Understandably, she shot me a digusted look and snapped, "don't be ridiculous. Move out of the way"!

Of course, she was right: I had said something totally ridiculous - and obviously untrue. In my waking, painful stupor, I'd tried to salvage my yearned-for "coma time" by saying something so stupid, that I am embarrassed by it to this day.

And what was worse about it all is that, of course, my seat wouldn't recline; so I had to fly all the way to Denver bolt upright, nodding off in weird five or ten second bursts with my head snapping forward, like a WWI soldier stuck in a trench for a week.

The only consolation was that the cowboy and his wife turned out to be drunk, and while I was passing in and out of hallucination next to them, they became belligerent towards the flight attendant and were met by the Denver police getting off the ramp, who handcuffed them and took them away!

Anyway, minus this exception, I just don't remember lying ever being a part of my life. And in real life, I am never in situations where I would even feel tempted to lie, because there is just no need. It just doesn't come up.

22 comments:

smile said...

And how would we know whether or not you were lying?
Because you said so...?
Isn't that rather tenuous?

Tal said...

Smile - I don't follow: How would you know whether I was lying about *what*?

What even are the claims on here you think might be lies?

E said...

Two thoughts:
To trust that someone isn't lying requires some faith... it's impossible to *really* know another's thoughts. Aside from the occasional 'gut instinct,' I try to take a person's word, until they give me reason not to.

Reader (and poster) Beware: Particularly on the web, where there is such a lack of nonverbal cues, it's important to realize that the line between lying, and sarcasm and dry wit, can easily be blurred.

smile said...

It was a hypothetical question.

How do we know whether or not you are telling the truth about lying?

Or whether you are lying about lying?

I have never made a comment on your blog under any other name but smile. I am telling the truth.

Do you believe me?

Just because I say so?

See?

Michelle said...

I stumbled upon your blog whilst googling some things about the if you sleep video. I just wanted to say thanks for some great music. I used to listen to your first CD every night when I went walking. Which reminds me, I need to start walking again. Mind if I bring you along?

Tal said...

So Smile - you want everyone to realize that it is diffult to verify whether an anonymous poster is lying about some arcane autobiographical detail over the internet?

I'm curious: Why would you think that that's something people - including most three year olds - don't already know?

I don't get it. Like, what in the world are you talking about?

Tal said...

Yeah Michelle, for sure. I went to check your own blog but it was blocked as private. Have fun on your walks :)

Maureen de Sousa aka modusa said...

based on this story, it's probably best that you aren't keen on lying because well, you don't seem to be especially good at it. being embarrassed and caught out when you're also exhausted makes a pretty funny story but i think it'd also be excellent aversion therapy. if everybody who got caught lying were in such a predicament, i doubt they'd enjoy it much either. :)

i have trouble lying myself. i've got a pretty plastic and transparent face: people can usually tell what i think about anything (there's no way i could play poker though i am sure i would have been a big hit in silent films.)

i'm afraid i do practice evasion and misdirection at times. for example, if somebody wants to know something i know but i'm not at liberty to say, i'll become deeply absorbed in looking for a pair of socks. but i think you're right. for the most part, telling the truth is just easier.

rachael chatoor said...

The omissions and harmless white lies that deflect hurt, I think most everyone understands.

Its the big ones that I don't get. The guy from Montreal who bilked fellow investors (many of them friends) out of millions of dollars for years....I wonder, how did he sleep at night? Or the spouse who cheats on thier partner, how do they go home and look their lover in the eye?

I figure anyone who lies about the big important things to the most important people can't possibly like themselves very much.

Not only would it be soul sucking but it would be a lot of work.

I'm sure this may sound very self serving but honestly the most straightforward reason I can think of not to lie, personally, is that I really don't wish to subject myself to all the pressure of keeping a story straight. It is far easier to recall a truth than to fabricate a lie and then forever after remember every minute detail. I can't think of anything really that would be worth that kind of ongoing mental gymnastics.


Quite frankly however, more than half the battle is won if you are consistently not allowing yourself to get into situations where you would have to lie in the first place.

Aunty Griselda. said...

On the flip side, I suppose many throughout history have been branded as liars by people who had self serving reasons to do that ,and wreck someone's reputation, when the truth is that those people may not have been any more of a liar than the average person. Hearsay would make liars out of us all,especially as humans are tempted to embellish a story they hear about someone else.

Alexander said...

I hate being lied to too. Problem is that I've been lied to so many times that it's hard for me to trust people ... which then drives me insane 'cause I find myself telling white lies to keep people at a distance (see trust issue). Vicious circle.

For what it's worth, I'd rather be told a painful truth than a comforting lie. Yes, it'll hurt but at least I'd have known rather than finding out later that I was lied to. That hurts more.

Speaking from personal experience.

smile said...

Weird.
Makes perfect sense to me.
Oh well.
Peace out.

rachael chatoor said...

Alexander, I couldn't agree with you more.

wsxwhx604 said...
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Gayle Mavor said...

I loved the story - Murphy's Law - and I think the last line of your story says it all, If you live a certain way, then it really never need be an issue and it isn't.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on lying, and I only think that it is only honorable when done to spare another person emotional pain. An example would be gossipy stuff.

If someone asks me if I know what so and so thinks of them, I might say, "I'm not sure, perhaps you should ask them". But the real truth might be, "She hates you, thinks you're fat, ugly, and stupid". If I did lie in that situation, it would be to spare their feelings, not protect my insider knowledge.

Missmicrophone said...

Sorry my blog was not blocked, it was nonexistant. It is open now, it remains to be seen if I actually have anything to say.

Anonymous said...

Tal never lies...he throws his big smile up in the air and whatever you catch is up to you. He can talk in riddles but no lies.

Hmmmmmmm

Steph said...

I just found your blog, and I blush to say that I've only just discovered your music (I'm a 'Boomer' singer/songwriter that spent the last 25 years composing classical music).

Wow. I *love* your music and your voice. In fact, I'm currently writing a Rock novel that's set in late 70s London. If it ever gets optioned for a movie I'd love to have your voice dubbed for one of my main characters' music.

Consider yourself blogrolled -- I'll be checking out the rest of your work!

Thanks!
Steph

Cupid said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jewelz said...
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IlĂ­on said...

Not all truths need to be said, *simply* because thry're true.