This doesn’t mean that any of the stories were actual lies. My friendships are formed with people who would not intentionally set out to deceive. If an occasional exaggeration is slipped into the story, it must be noted.
Here is an example of what I mean. Last week, Barbara and I got up early and drove to the hospital up north. We went for what I thought was an unnecessary follow-up to eye surgery. It turned out, though, that some swelling was discovered in the site of the surgery. The Doctor said that he wanted to give me some sort of shot in the eye to reduce the swelling. My toes curled.
So, a nurse put some drops into my eye to deaden it. Then, the Doctor came in and put an apparatus in my eye to keep the eyelids open. He brushed the surface of my eyeball with a little brush to disinfect the site, said, “You will feel a little pinch,” and stuck a needle in there. I watched from the inside as black stuff came billowing out of the needle in my eye.
When I tell the story, I like to say that I saw the needle enter my eye, but of course, I didn’t see the needle, and I have to note the exaggeration. But, it’s a pretty good story, don’t you think? It ought to be able to withstand the assaults of subsequent “lies,” at least for a little while. But it couldn’t and it didn’t.
A couple of days after the needle-in-the-eye incident, we were packed and ready to head for home when we got a phone call from one of our daughters. She told Barbara that a donor had been found for a liver transplant for her six-month-old grandson, Zander. She was on her way to the Primary Children’s Medical Center and she wanted her mommy to be with her.
We carefully made our way to the hospital. Our daughter and grandson, Chad, were waiting outside for us. They took us into a waiting room where we spent the next nine hours. Then we went to another waiting room for six more hours. At the end of that time, after a three-hour surgery, Dr. Kim came in to tell us that all was well, that Zander had a new liver and was on his way to ICU for recovery.
Barbara and I went out to the big Dodge at 1:30 a.m. I was so jacked up that I thought I could drive home. We made it as far as Price when Barbara cast her vote to spend what little remained of the night there in a motel. She was nearly sick with fatigue and worry.
See what I mean? A liver transplant trumps a needle in the eye every time. As good as my story was, being the first liar, I didn’t stand a chance.
While we were up north, I got to run some errands with my granddaughter, Kayla June, who is now in college but used to be my little “June Bug” or “Boon Jug.” She told me that when she got married she wanted a husband who was a good storyteller, like me or uncle Joaquin. She said that she had been on a date with a young man who tried to tell stories but just didn’t have the rhythms or the flow of good storytelling.
I hope she finds a good storyteller, but it isn’t enough to just be good. You have to somehow avoid being the first storyteller, the first “liar,” in order to make any sort of lasting impression.