Although movies starring Jim Carrey are not designed to make you think, I found myself pondering a question after leaving his latest film, “Liar, Liar.”
Here is the question: How many lies does it take to get through the average day?
The answer, I conclude, is uncountable.
In the film, Carrey plays a lawyer who is forced to go one full day telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, thanks to a magical birthday wish made by his son. As we all know, this is the only way a lawyer would ever do something like that.
But how much better are the rest of us? Walk yourself through a typical American day, compare what you say to what you mean, and start counting the fibs. Ready?
Wake-up . . .
WIFE: Morning. How you feeling?
YOU: Fine, honey. (I feel like belching, but I’ll wait until I get to the bathroom.)
At the breakfast table . . .
CHILD: Daddy, could you beat Superman in a fight?
YOU: Of course I could. (Are you kidding? In my condition, I couldn’t wrestle Richard Simmons.)
At the coffee shop . . .
WAITRESS: We’re out of muffins. You want toast instead?
YOU: Uh, OK. (You dope. If I wanted toast, I’d have ordered toast. When you bring me the check, can I say, “I’m out of money; you want lint instead?”)
At the office . . .
YOU: Say, you cut your hair.
SECRETARY: Do you like it?
YOU: Yeah, it looks great. (What size bowl did you use?)
In the board meeting . . .
BOSS: Could you get that done by this afternoon?
YOU: No problem, sir (if you believe in Santa Claus).
At the lunchroom . . .
COLLEAGUE: Did you hear Fred got that promotion?
YOU: Well, he worked hard. (It’s not easy kissing the boss’ rear end all day long.)
By the water cooler . . .
SEXY YOUNG WORKER: Thank you so much for helping me with that paperwork.
YOU: No problem. (Now, please take off your clothes.)
At the body shop . . .
REPAIRMAN: You need new brakes. I recommend we put some on.
YOU: Well, if you really think so. (Go ahead, rob me blind, you heartless thief.)
At the school recital . . .
NEIGHBOR: Your kid’s really talented.
YOU: Thanks. So is yours (if you consider singing off-key a talent).
On the way home . . .
CHILD: I love eating McDonald’s!
YOU: Remember, it’s just this one special time. (Thank God for this place. I’m so exhausted, the kids could eat dirt before I’d start cooking.)
At the restaurant . . .
HOSTESS: It’ll be 15 minutes for a table. You can wait by the bar.
YOU: Thanks. (Sure. And you’ll come get us around Thanksgiving.)
At the movie theater . . .
CONCESSION WORKER: Would you like a large Coke for a quarter more?
YOU: Why not? (What a rip-off. It’s all ice anyhow.)
In the car ride home . . .
WIFE: That Nicole Kidman is a good actress.
YOU: Yeah, very talented. (Just one night as Tom Cruise, Lord, that’s all I ask, just one night . . .)
Be honest. Am I right? And these are just the “highlight” lies. I’m not even counting the dozens of little falsehoods that we toss around all day.
(“Sure, I’d love to have dinner with your in-laws.” . . . “Some people call him fat, but he’s really just big-boned.” . . . “The only TV I watch is PBS.”)
The fact is, we probably tell about twice as many lies each day as truths. That is, unless you’re on the O.J. Simpson defense team or the staff of the National Enquirer. Then the numbers are higher.
So what’s the answer? Would we all be better off going through a “Liar, Liar” period, where we were forced to tell the truth and nothing but the truth
— no matter what the consequences?