“It’s not a lie. It’s a gift for fiction.”

Walt Price in “State and Main”

Oh my! It appears that the entire infrastructure of the chattering class’ integrity is crumbling.

First, Brian Williams, who has long been the face of NBC Nightly News, is going through a rough patch. Williams, who admitted fudging the facts about being aboard an army helicopter that was hit by enemy fire in Iraq in 2003, and got mixed up about flying with the SEAL team that got Osama bin Laden in an early attack in the Iraq war has been sent to the showers.

Will soap wash it away?

Mendacity is spreading faster than the measles in America. Robert McDonald, secretary of veterans affairs, fancied up his resume by claiming he served with a special forces team, when he only served with the 82nd Airborne Division. Only? Man, I’d be happy to settle for the 82nd Airborne gig.

On the fractious right, the well known Fox network bloviator Bill O’Reilly is being charged with tinting up his resume. He’s saying he was at a war zone when he wasn’t and telling his mother on the phone that he had seen Catholic nuns shot in the head.

O’Reilly flatly denies all of this. I can tell you, being more Irish than O’Reilly, that there is nothing inherently wrong with lying to your mother. How can a boy survive growing up Catholic without lying to his mother? Okay, the nun thing may be crossing the line.

As the dust clouds roll over the mediascape today, I find that I, as a media celebrity of a sort, should confess to the many times in the distant past that I’ve enhanced my resume by fabricating my colorful youth. I want this out in the open before NBC or FOX come after me.

This confession will include the many “colorful” narratives and flowery scenarios I was guilty of in my salad days.

I must write a letter of apology to the casting people at Universal Studios who were considering me for a long-term contract. They asked me if I could ski, box, swim, ride a horse and fence. I said yes to them all. When they found out that I couldn’t do any of those things, the deal ended. Give me a break, all actors lie.

I’m sorry, Rachel of Brooklyn. I sort of lied when I said I was under contract to Universal Studios. But as we were sitting there at the table at Toots Shor’s bar in Manhattan, I feared that I was losing your attention. You were staring, with such liquid eyes, at actor Richard Egan who was standing at the bar, and I felt that a promising evening was slipping away. So I made up the story. But, Richard Egan? Really? C’mon.

Roslyn of Shaker Heights, Ohio, maybe because it was so boring on that snowy night. Actually, I didn’t think I was going to see you again, and felt there was nothing to lose by pretending for one silly night to having had a Purple Heart. Still you have to admit, that was a pretty good limp. But to call it an “ugly deception”? That’s just cold.

No, Louise of Weston, Vt., I did not spend two years in a seminary preparing to be a priest. BUT I really thought about it once or twice, and I did play a priest twice in two plays and once on “Kraft Theatre” in New York. You even said I would make a handsome priest. I hope that you long ago stopped worrying that the rest of that night was a sacrilege. That’s so silly.

Koto in Japan, I still have fond memories of our dates and fun nights at the Cherry Bar in Tachikawa. You were a great sport, taught me how to drink sake properly and to play pachinko.

It’s important here, in case this winds up on Japanese Facebook, that I was NOT lying when I said you looked exactly like a Japanese Elizabeth Taylor. You really did. But what I said that last night in Shinjuku, was so duplicitous that it haunts me to this day. I was not leaving the next morning to be dropped behind the lines in Korea. That was just wrong to say.

So there it is. I’ve told all, and partially cleansed my soul. I’m proud of the fact, that during our courtship and throughout 54 years of marriage, that I never, ever lied to She who considers lying a serious offense. Okay, there was that dancer on the Johnny Carson Show who kissed me in the hall. What could I do? Slap her? Not her fault. I was so hot in those days. I just forgot to tell you.

J.P Devine is a Waterville writer.


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