Published 5:14 pm Tuesday, August 19, 2008
A lie by any other name is hyperbole
I’ll be the first to admit, my brand o’ humor is not for everyone. (Anyone? Are you out there? Hello?)
I’ve never been a fan of humorists. I never got Lewis Grizzard, rarely read Dave Barry and don’t care for my column much either. I realize there’s a reason they’re famous and I’m not: they’re funny.
You can call me a wannabe and that’s just finewithme. I am also a liar, in a strict sense of the word. I guess it all depends on your personal definition of “truth.”
This may take some fancy “’splainin’” as Ricky Ricardo might tell Lucy. Unlike a two-year-late John Edwards apology: I want to come clean — right here, right now. Is it possible for me to occasionally amplify the truth for the sake of humor and to still be considered trustworthy?
Some would answer: “No.”
My family: “Oh dear, he’s running for office.”
Most of you: “Gosh, I hate this stupid column.”
Though guilty, I am remorseless. In my own defense, let me simply state that my “lies” are offered openly to all as obvious overstatements and ridiculous over-the-top exaggerations.
My trusted Internet dictionary tells me such enhanced statements are called HYPERBOLE (rhymes with “Ricardo”). “A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect, as in I could sleep for a year or He’s dumber than a post or McKeithan’s column is funny.”
My point? If you think that my “hyperbowling” on (some) Fridays is “lying” — then you are probably not too bright. Again, my use of this literary device does not mean I am untrustworthy. No, I’m merely abusing a time-honored technique because there aren’t (yet) any laws preventing me from doing so.
I realize I’m walking a fine line of rationalization here. Like a drunk taking a sobriety test — I stumble across this line as I attempt to balance on one foot while removing the other from my mouth.
For this open-letter apology to have any meaning, it must be specific and sincere. Therefore, let me now reveal the truth about some intentional exaggerations from past columns.
First will be the offending statement, followed by a “truthful” one.
Claim: I wrote a letter to Santa in 1968.
Truth: My Mom wrote the letter — it was never mailed. (Which explains my trust issues — and why I didn’t get the silver-sparkle drum set from Santa.)
Claim: I am a hypochondriac.
Truth: I am the picture of health. (I saw the X-Rays, the lab work, the DNA results and the doctor’s notes.)
Claim: Staying home is better than going to Disney- World.
Truth: Keeping five-grand is better than DisneyWorld.
Claim: South of the Border (Dillon, SOUTH Carolina) is our next vacation destination.
Truth: They were booked.
Claim: True friends protect you from yourself.
Truth: True friends better keep to themselves … or else.
Claim: I wear a faux leopard skin loincloth to do yard work.
Truth: It’s GENUINE and only worn when I play golf.
About my beautiful wife…
Robin deserves better than to be mischaracterized by me each week. I “married up,” as they say. She fell victim to my many hyperboles during the courtin’ phase. Truth is, she deserves better than me, and is very patient, caring and supportive — and a good sport. (Robin has prior approval and censorship authority over each column. Seriously.)
So, I will NEVER use her for cheap laughs, EVER again …
Claim: I am a hen-pecked husband.
Truth: No. I do everything she tells me to do.
Claim: My wife fitted me with a dog shock collar.
Truth: Well … true … and I’m finally house-trained.
Claim: I am a “hunk of a man.”
Truth: Uh … also true.
Claim: Her family shunned me at the family reunion.
Truth: They were loving and kind despite my incessant taunting.
Claim: I am “Superhusband.”
Truth: Actually, “STUPIDhusband” as she tells her friends and her Mom.
Claim: I have a “beautiful wife.”
Truth: She’s GORGEOUS!
Thank you for allowing me to confess my writing sins while clearing the air — and managing 713 words (so far) out of old material. I should now be back in the good graces of my gorgeous wife and some former incredulous readers.
Now, my pledge to you all:
I will forever more write serious columns only, with my new thesaurus close at hand (i.e., “incredulous” above) and will NEVER USE A HYPERBOLE AGAIN!