The tables at the Echo Tap are cozy and small, our elbows rubbing as the glasses stack up. We’ve been nibbling at dark beers for a while now, long enough that the conversation has begun to flow like a lazy river ride. Leaning back, basking in the camaraderie, (the TV behind my head airing a special on women in swimsuits), I catch an off-hand comment from my friend about his family. His three siblings, to be specific.
Three? I always thought he had two. This pal of mine who I’ve known for several years – yet I never knew about the third sibling. Or the family tragedy, as it turns out. The stories escalate, revelations unfurling like a gift bag of slinkies. I’m stunned, shocked, and, to be quite honest, incredulous. I like to think I’m observant; I like to think I know people. I like to think that nothing my friends reveal about themselves should come as a surprise. And I’m surprised.
So I deny it. He must be joking, I think. He must be making up wild tales because, after all, we’re drinking, we’re laughing, we’re not being serious. I just sent the group a Snapchat of a giant blue dick coming out of an empty beer glass for God’s sake. This isn’t a night of secret revelations, this is a night of mirth and companionship, four friends slingin’ em back as St. Valentine runs mischief in some other neck of the woods.
And besides, making up wild stories about family is exactly something I would do. Why wouldn’t my friend?
He wouldn’t, as it turns out. I texted another friend to confirm the veracity of these stories and, well, the kid wasn’t lying. Maybe I’m not as omnipotent as I like to think. And maybe I’m also a lot worse of a human being.
Not because I first assumed my friend is lying, no. At least not that specifically. The root of the problem resides in why I thought he was lying – because I would do the same thing. I would share family stories with my friends, eagerly embellishing key plot points, juicing up the dialogue, adding color to the setting. For a laugh, I might conjure up a semi-plausible tale of my past life, just to see if my friends would believe it. I might tell them a story that happened to a friend, but leave the friend out of it, claiming all the glory in the telling. I might chuckle and say, “I’m just kidding, guys.” And I might not.
Am I simply a natural storyteller, the blood in my veins pumping hot with poetic potential? Or am I so desperate for a laugh, so desperate for attention, so desperate for my friends to look at me and think, “there’s an interesting guy” – that I make it all up?
You have to wonder then, how much of this is made up too?