It’s been said that some of the best stories come from people who remember things that never happened. I once read that some of the most dramatic war stories were told by clerks and typists.
Now some of this could be that as time goes by, we don’t remember things exactly as they happened due to the fact that unlike in a computer, we can’t update our software. And some of it, perhaps a lot of it, is that people just want to make the stories more dramatic.
Historians tell us that the famous battle that involved Wyatt Earp, his two brothers Virgil and Morgan, and Doc Holiday against Ike Clanton and the McLourys at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Az., probably lasted 30 seconds. Yet, entire 2-hour movies have been constructed around that event.
And it’s said that if everyone who claimed to have served on the PT 109 with John Kennedy had actually been there, the vessel would have sunk from the weight.
Now the dramatization or outright lying doesn’t just come from the guy in the bar who’s had “tee many martoonies.” It runs the spectrum. Lately, such dramatization has come from the well respected news anchor Brian Williams and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.
As secretary of state, Clinton recalled coming under sniper fire during a visit to Bosnia. Oops, it really didn’t happen that way.
And the most recent revelation that Brian William’s helicopter did not come under fire in the Mideast and was forced to land, illustrates this phenomenon as well.
Now, both say they misspoke. Funny how that works. If you’re just a common Joe, it’s a lie. If you’re famous, you misspeak.
When John Kerry was running for office, it was alleged that he greatly exaggerated his gunboat days in Vietnam. But at least he was there in harm’s way which sort of gave him some poetic license.
Maybe a lot of this happens because most of us have rather boring lives when we assess actual events against those situations that would make good novels or screenplays. We probably all have a chromosome that can cause us to turn a large house cat into a mountain lion.
One must wonder how many guys have told girls that they were former Navy Seals, thinking they would never see them again after one date and their military history would never come to light. And one has to imagine the awkwardness when the two fall in love and one day the guy has to explain that he was a cook on an aircraft carrier.
I wonder how many political candidates “didn’t inhale?” And I wonder how many of them are glad they were never asked. That’s sort of a reverse of what we’re talking about, but it still involves concoction of a story.
If one’s strategic plans include the pursuit of fame in the realm of politics, he should remember that today we are a world of mass communications. There are cameras everywhere. Unless it’s the middle of the night on the back forty, there’s a good chance that whatever you do is going to be on someone’s camera. Today, everyone has a cell phone and most cell phones have built-in cameras. Remember that old television show “This is Your Life?” Well, that concept has newer and greater dimensions these days.
Let me put this another way: You didn’t actually tackle and subdue that armed robber as he ran out of the convenience store. He collided with you and both of you were briefly knocked unconscious when you hit the pavement. As luck would have it, you regained consciousness before the robber and realized his gun had slid underneath a parked car.
Heck, I wouldn’t even trust the back forty.