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.
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?
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?