I use to know this guy that was a pathological liar. Most people tend to exaggerate things from time to time to make themselves look smarter, cooler, wealthier or thinner, than they truly are. And, there’s the pessimist who exaggerates their woes to elicit empathy. But pathological liars are a whole different breed of fabricators.
If someone said they found a twenty dollar bill on the ground, he found a two hundred dollar bill. If someone saw the World Series live, he was in the dugout advising the coach. If someone had a three legged dog that could climb trees, he had a no legged dog that could water ski.
There didn’t even have to be someone to compete with, he’d just start one-upping himself. One day I was sitting outside a Starbucks with three friends when we saw Aaron and, before I could stop him, my friend Ben, waved him over.
“Hey Aaron, how you doing?” Ben hollered to him.
Without even warming up, Aaron dove right in to his fake story like a rabid cable news anchorman.
“Going to meet a guy about an investment.” he said.
Investment? Doesn’t that require money? I wondered silently to myself, and which he promptly answered.
“Got an inheritance from a rich aunt.” he said. (I guess “rich uncle” would have been too obvious a choice.) “I’m gonna sink it into something big.”
“What kind of investment?” Gwen asked, unaware she was feeding his compulsion to lie.
“Aw, it’s big. I mean BIG. Mammoth. Can’t talk about it. Non-disclosure thing, you know.”
“Hey, has anyone seen the mammoth exhibit-” I began, trying to change the subject.
“You gotta promise not to tell a soul.” Aaron said drawing focus back to himself. Without waiting for encouragement he continued in a false whisper. “This company is going to be big. Everyone is going to want a piece of it.”
There’s something about our culture right now that causes people to believe stuff they know isn’t true. Although they should have known him well enough to know it wasn’t real, they still had to know what “it” was.
“Is it technology? Pharmaceutical? Energy?” Ben asked.
“Entertainment? Agriculture? Automotive?” Gwen queried.
Aaron continued to shake his head. A gleam in his eye and a small smile turning up the ends of his deceptive mouth.
“Shoes? Vapor rub? Hair plugs?” the waitress chimed in, as if we were playing charades.
“Let’s just say there’s nothing like it on earth.” he said. Presumably offering a clue.
“Space travel?” Ben whispered in awe.
Aaron let the brief silence speak for itself. They smiled at each euphorically, like children that had just been told they had inherited super powers.
“Isn’t Tesla working on space travel for consumers?” I chimed in, trying to defuse the illusion and give him a safe out.
“Can we get in on it?” Gwen pleaded, unaware I had said anything.
Ben, Shelley and Gwen, and now the waitress, nodded eagerly hoping he would acquiesce to the request. It was hopeless, they had all drunk the cool-aid and were oblivious to the fact that Aaron had never said anything true in his life.
I wanted to shout at them “Aaron lies about how much poop a bird dropped on his windshield. He can’t tell the truth, in the most trivial of situations!” but I knew it was useless. They continued to plead and flatter, while he continued to embellish his connection to the universe.
I couldn’t stand it any more. Suddenly I went listless and closed my eyes, dropping my head to the side just long enough for them to notice.
“Shay?” Gwen said hesitantly.
Suddenly I bolted up right. “How long was I gone?”
“Wh-what?” Shelley stammered, looking confused.
“I just disapparated into the future.” I said then looked Aaron right in the eye. “I’m going to be nominated for an Academy Award for the screenplay I started last month.” I leaned towards him without blinking and got to my feet. “And Aaron, you go to prison for perjury! You better be careful of the things you say.” Gathering my things to leave, I paused to deliver one last line. “I better go work on that script if I expect to win an Academy Award in 2020.”
I’m not saying I would have won an Academy Award, but it was a near perfect performance. Except for nearly being hit by a car during my dramatic exit. I do hope, however, that it helped Aaron to see the error of his ways. My friends, on the other hand, now think I am the delusional one.