The tall tale comes naturally to our kind. It is a necessary device to preserve the image that we want the world to see. It is a consequence of our belief in our brilliance, attractiveness and omnipotence. Social conditioning means that people rarely challenge deviations from the truth, these white lies oil our interaction with one another and often prove entertaining. To us however the tall tale is a necessary device. Each has three constituent parts; the lie, the truth we deny and the reason why.
1. I could have been a model you know.
I am not ugly, far from it, I am possessed of good looks but I maintain that I am stunning, my beauty is such it would launch a thousand ships a la Helen of Troy. I did a little modelling when I was younger, well, if you call parading up and down in front of the mirror in my bedroom modelling. I am attractive but I see myself as transcending that and being jaw-droppingly handsome, eye-widening beautiful and of considerable arousing allure. By maintaining that I could have been a model I reinforce my attractiveness and send some wow factor in your direction to seduce you. All the while I tell myself this to avoid staring at the aging face that is slowly succumbing to age in the bathroom mirror each day and hearing its mocking hisses.
2. I am a head of department and almost on the board.
I am a cookie-cutter who will never rise above satisfactory and this fact pains me considerably but I should be head of the department here, but it is those idiots in charge who fail to recognise my talents and brilliance. They have it in for me you see, they are scared I will get rid of them because I am better than them, so they respond the only way they can, by denying me my rightful promotions. I may not be head of department but I should be and therefore to my mind it is entirely acceptable to tell you that I am, after all, you are not going to be impressed by my cookie cutting skills are you?
3. I have several published papers.
I am an intellectual genius, a behemoth of the scientific community, polymath and leading light and I know that since you are of an academic bent that you will be impressed by my association with prestigious researchers and scientists. I read about them but I don’t know them, but that is not going to stop me in my vainglorious attempt to amaze and delight you. I did once have an article published in a niche journal some time ago but I refer to it as something that drew its own editorial in a major scientific publication. If only more people would listen to me then they would start to understand just how talented I really am.
4. I am a close personal friend of….
Athlete, writer, playwright or film star. Take your pick. I will know at least one and shall regale you with invented tales of lunch dates, childhood connections and telephone calls to congratulate him or her on the latest Oscar success. I know your eyes light up at the mention of his or her name. I know that you think that I must be something special to know someone special and I know you will hang around all the while longer just in case I manage to broker a meeting for you with someone I happened to see attending a film premiere. On television.
5. I love family occasions, I am a brilliant host.
All back to mine is one of my favourite refrains. I always want the family over for dinner, for a BBQ, to celebrate the good times. I want you thinking that I am mein host, the bon viveur and possessed of a certain joie de vivre. The only time I will countenance such attendance is when I know everyone will be looking at me. Every other occasion I hijack in order to make it all about me, so much so that my treacherous, lying and seditious family rarely invite me to anything these days. I don’t want you knowing that yet of course, I want you to believe I am the life and soul of the party and I am a genuine, family man. That is far more attractive than the twisted person who is ostracised by his family that I have become.
6. I enjoy a drink, just to be sociable.
Who doesn’t enjoy a drink? If someone doesn’t drink, I am suspicious of them. Everyone likes to drink, it oils the wheels of social interaction, makes a good time great and reduces inhibitions. I know plenty about wine and will happily impress you with the extent of my knowledge as I walk the attractive line that shows me to be a chap who enjoys a good time without going over board. It is all in moderation of course. Nobody likes an old soak, a drunkard, a lush, a foul and abusive tyrant who uses the demon drink as a crutch to keep the demons at bay when you cruel and savage traitors deny me my rightful fuel. If I say I enjoy a drink and I don’t have a problem, then I don’t have a problem do I? Now fetch me another beer and get off my back.
7. I only have your best interests at heart.
I care about you so much that I would do anything for you and it is all predicated on my concern for your well-being. You lap that up and so does everyone else who falls for my façade of caring and compassionate partner. How lucky you are to have someone so caring. It is the panacea to rationalise everything that I do, no matter how cruel, how base or how harsh. By telling you, the world and most of all myself that what I do is well-intentioned and only in your best interests then that makes it entirely acceptable, noble even. Doesn’t it?
8. I am going to show you what great sex really is.
It is usually stated in a more graphic and profane way to allow you to pretend to be shocked by my visceral and animalistic lust for you, when really you are thrilled to be taken in this manner, for it accords with the conditioning of our roles doesn’t it? The promise of sexual nirvana is a powerful attraction indeed and one few resist. Yet if I happen to provide you with a thrilling sexual encounter which leaves you panting and clamouring for more, I did not do it to show you, I did it to show myself how fantastic I am between the sheets. Then again, there are those of our kind who really have no interest in delivering but the maintenance of the myth, through easily spoken words, is a requirement to ensure you remain drawn to us. They will talk you into bed and then strangely fall silent, until the blaming excuses for non-performance come your way.
9. I have one like that, only….
The back-handed compliment which is purely a device to create an opening for us to boast and brag about how brilliant our car is, how loud our stereo system is, how large our house is, how expensive our clothes are and so forth. Got a forehead have you? Well, I have a fivehead. See, whatever you have I have bigger, better and more of. The truth is I do not, but I wish I have and in fact were it not for this cruel and tortuous world that I have been thrust into, I would have all these things. It is all their fault. It is all your fault. I do of course know all about those things which are bigger and better, even if I do not have them and that knowledge is sufficient pretence to impress you and draw you in, belittle someone else and steal their thunder whilst assuaging my rampaging sense of envy.
10. I don’t think I could love you any more than I do.
From the stable of outlandish declarations of love and it is designed to sweep you off your feet in the manner that society has conditioned you to expect. All I am doing is living up to that expectation and trotting out such seemingly wonderful and meaningful statements which are utterly empty. Except this is no tall tale. This is a rare nugget of truth that has fallen from my perfidious mouth. You of course regard it as a wonderful and delightful statement of my unprecedented love for you. What I am really telling you is the truth, I cannot love you any more that I do, because I do not love you.