This I Believe

Catherine - Carrboro, North Carolina
Entered on September 5, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: integrity

Listening to Lies

The setting is a downtown restaurant on a Friday when everybody else is

out of town. Our favorite table – the bar – is occupied by only three other

people: a guy about our age at the far end, regaling a somewhat younger couple he’d chanced upon. They formed a triangle.

The guy is saying as we sit down a ways, “The Boxster goes really fast. The cops around here are terrible. In Dallas you can do a hundred in a 65 zone.” I

whisper into my husband’s ear, Liar. Berkeley looks around the empty room

and I say, This guy right here. The husband of the couple assumes the Boxter is parked out back, but the liar says, “Nah, I sold it. I’m moving to Tampa.”

But he’s got this nifty boat, a 28-foot cigarette boat great for island-hopping. You just drive up to the dock and take off. “We went kayaking in Pamlico Sound,” offers the wife of the couple. “Oh,” he says, and it turns out he had to get rid of the boat because Tampa is better than Miami.

The liar tells them he’s lived everywhere. “Europe, Asia, every continent except Antarctica.” He has two undergraduate degrees and a law degree. He has two dogs and five cats and a bird, later upgraded to a cockatiel.

Our food arrives. We dig in and keep listening, whispering to each other in a show of romantic detachment and kicking each other when our mouths are full, going “Mmm!” with every new juicy detail.

The liar doesn’t go to Cat’s Cradle anymore because he’s heard all the bands that play there. He recommends the opening acts at The Cave.

He saw the Beatles in Shea Stadium and has been to every Rolling Stones concert in the United States. He saw the Rat Pack perform in Carnegie Hall when Sammy Davis was too sick to join them.

The liar challenges the couple to name the three best recording artists of all time: Sinatra, Streisand, and Buffett. Berkeley comes close to shooting beer out of his nose.

Then something disturbing takes place. The liar gets the two of them to

confirm that they’re eating out of his hand. “Some people think I’m a snob, but…”

“Oh no,” they assure him. “You’re not a snob.”

Well in that case, he read Dante’s Inferno at the age of 12 and thought it was stupid. Read the entire Encyclopaedia Brittanica from A to Z, loves Joyce and Chaucer, is currently re-reading Mein Kampf. Brought up Catholic. Wife is taking care of her dying mother in Minnesota. He doesn’t take care of himself. If anything happens to him, the dogs will probably eat the cats.

I whisper intimately to Berkeley, He’s running out of material.

Check, please. We explode out the door and Berkeley goes nuts on the sidewalk. “Nobody loves Joyce and Chaucer.” Half a block later, “Streisand and Buffett?!?” Almost home, “That guy does not have pets.” Striding alongside him I answer, “He sure as hell doesn’t have a wife.”

We had spent the last hour acting like lovers and listening to lies.