In A Tale Spin

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I’m a professional storyteller with an unusual specialty for a tale-spinner. I built a career on the notion that every word I speak is absolutely true.

As a result I became very popular and trusted.

But then a funny thing happened – I discovered that a bit of exaggeration can turn a merely good story a really great one!

Like the yarn I used to tell about standing in the open door of a military helicopter while it was preparing to land. As the aircraft neared the ground, the wind grabbed my hat and blew it off my head. The hat was mercilessly chopped up by the helicopter’s rotors.

I was surprised and saddened by this because I loved that hat! But when I told this story at parties, people yawned. I realized that they did not find the fate of my hat very compelling.

So then I started to tell the story a little differently, saying that the wind picked up and I was blown out the door of the helicopter – all of me, not just my hat. Fortunately, we were only about 30 feet above the ground and I fell in a haystack and was unhurt. But for a little added color, I threw in the detail that my hat blew off and was chopped up by the rotors on the way down.

At least that part was still true.

People liked this version of the story a lot better! It was so much better, they actually stopped talking to each other and listened while I told it!

Dr. Babooner, you can understand why I used this version of the story at parties and gatherings of all sorts, right up to the day I told it at a county fair and a haberdasher and a farmer challenged me on it. The hat maker said any wind strong enough to blow a man out the door of a helicopter would have separated him from his headgear long before he took flight.

And the farmer simply pointed out that hay isn’t as soft as it looks.

Overnight my fortunes changed. Although I had been one of the most trusted people in the world the day before, I suddenly became just another liar.

Critics said I betrayed the people’s trust. But the way I look at it, “trust” is what you have when you believe someone in spite of evidence to the contrary. How could people “trust” me one day and not the next? It seems to me their “trust” doesn’t mean much if it can be totally reversed in so short a time. I may have enhanced the truth a tad to make it a better story, but does that make me worse than a fickle truster?  I don’t think so.

My lawyer advised me not to say any of this out loud or it would just make things worse. He’s a jerk and I don’t any faith in him, but my family says I should do as he says because he always wins.

But I think hay is pretty cushy no matter what some dumb farmer says. I’m betting everything I have on getting a soft landing now! Should I?

Sincerely,
Hatless in Manhattan

I told H.I.M. to put more faith in his family and his lawyer, and less in his questionable memory. Challenging the people who used to trust you but don’t any longer because you were caught in a lie is not a strategy to regain their confidence, it’s confirmation that they were wrong about you all along. The best course is to ask for forgiveness and devote yourself to fiction from this day forward, because people will never accept the truth from you now unless it is carefully hidden inside a lie.

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

31 thoughts on “In A Tale Spin”

  1. Dear Hatless in Manhattan:
    You have some serious challenges ahead of you. You must duplicate the embellished story you’ve told to make it the truth. First attend a training course for stunt men and learn the proper technique for falling from a helicopter. Next secure a position as a traffic reporter for NBC affiliate KVLY-TV in Fargo, North Dakota. Do not apply at KVRR as that is the FOX affiliate. You’ll need to be on the job by Labor Day weekend, in time for the Steam Threshers Reunion in Rollag, Minnesota. Haystacks aplenty! Then purchase the largest hat you can find. This will entail your becoming a Dallas Cowboys fan. You can easily find those really huge ones online. Buy two. Exercise extreme caution in how often and where you wear the hat. Vikings fans are still rather annoyed by the Hershel Walker trade and the 1975 Hail Mary Pass. Now for the tricky part. A 30 foot plunge will not work as the rotor wash from the station’s helicopter will tear apart any haystack leaving you with little to break your fall. 60 feet should do. Toss both hats out the window. At least one will be shredded. You know the rest. You’ll likely be fired for clumsiness and it will cost you a bundle in bribes (not to mention the ongoing blackmail fees) but your integrity will be redeemed, so what the hay!!

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Good morning. A soft landing might still be possible, Hatless. However, if that is not possible you should follow Dale’s advice and look for some other kind of work. You could write a memoir and try to avoid including any untruths because those wouldn’t go down good if they are discovered similar to the way you have already been caught telling an untruth.

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  3. Rise and Commence Telling Tales Baboons!

    All I can say H.I.M. is that I know how you feel.

    I used to be a world renowned research psychologist who invented an entire school of psychology. Then I told the teensiest fib about the results of a particular research study published by the A.P.A. which my researched assistant then busted me for. I never liked her much and we don’t speak at all now. And may I say, she then turned around and became the world renowned Shrinky-Dink, while I toil away in a tiny St. Paul private practice.

    This information, of course, is a story I guard with my life and tell almost no one because I am so especially persecuted by those in charge. But I will share my story on a public blog today just to help you feel a sense of camaraderie. You will endure and survive this to go on to write news for the Mill City Weekly Sentinel.

    And I have heard Comedy Central has an opening late night. Audition for that one! The last guy in that chair did OK, and nobody there expects any level of truthiness.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. D’ya think? When I was a kid weather forecasts were the butt of jokes. Nobody trusted them. My sense is that better forecasts have now created more credibility with most folks. I think the forecasts here in the Willamette Valley are pretty good, but they are so complicated I can’t follow them well (all those danged mountains and valleys and the ocean make it so confusing)!

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  4. My mother and my sister never let facts get in the way of telling a good story. I’ve learned to decode what they’re actually saying over time. I don’t see why others can’t as well. And if his hat really did get chewed up, it could be PTSD. Losing a favorite hat can be very traumatic.

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  5. My dad was a storyteller. He never–to my knowledge–lied. But he never missed a chance to dress up dull reality with some exaggeration. We got used to this, and in time I felt I knew what kind of “windage” adjustment to make with his stories.

    Once my mother called me to report Dad had caught an 8-pound northern pike. He thought I’d like a picture of it for the magazine I edited. It was a long drive on a hot day, and I was sure the fish wasn’t as big as he’d claimed. I said, “Mom, you know how Dad is. If he says 8 pounds I’d guess it is about 5 and one fourth.” To my shock, she put the phone down and roared at my father (who was out on the dock) “GEORGE! Steve says WEIGHT IT!” I never would have challenged him like that. After a silence, he apparently weighed the fish. I heard his slightly crestfallen voice calling back to my mother: “Five and a quarter!”

    (Note to mig: this story is not exaggerated. I have witnesses.) 🙂

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  6. To learn about the use of helicopters as trickery, watch “The Gods Must Be Crazy.” Ten times. And say ten Hail Mary’s, but not around Vikings fans.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Y’all are in rare form this morning!

    I like Dale’s “devote yourself to fiction from this day forward”. I definitely think you should at least re-route your career. Hard to imagine your coming back to your former position, even if you try coming back gradually… This is going to be interesting to watch.

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  8. Buy a new hat. Admit you were wrong. Put on your big boy pants and move on. (Said she who is feeling a bit grumpy about people not owning up to what they do and say.)

    OT – I may have missed it in my spotty attendance on the blog – do we have a new book or books for BBC? Still bummed that I missed talking about “Oil and Honey” though the earnest young man door knocking to raise funds to lobby against Big Coal probably appreciated that I recently read it…

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