Did you know it’s perfectly legal to lie under most circumstances? Untruths are a violent tactic, part of human existence. To feign, misdirect and avoid are all safety tactics every human learns at the earliest age.
I once sailed across the Pacific Ocean with a guy who introduced himself with four different names before we all settled on one. To be honest though he spent the first three days debilitatingly seasick and once he recovered it became clear he held a deep seated fear of the ocean and likely couldn’t swim. Also turns out her was running from gambling debt; there wasn’t too much honesty in this guy’s soul except on some very basic survival levels. He’d been signed on as the cook and to his credit he never poisoned us.
Perfectly legal to lie.
Greg moved from Sausalito, California to Just outside Boise, Idaho during the pandemic. Moved up there with his high school sweetheart, a buxom bleach-blond who “he hadn’t spoken to in years.” Greg is 59, Kelly just turned 60 and if you meet them you’d swear they’d been married for 40 years. They finish each other’s sentences, have just enough dirt on each other to rib and banter like they’d a raised children of their own. Neither of them have kids. None of Greg’s friends and work mates over the past 30 years had ever met her or known of her existence, she just appeared shortly after he dumped his openly Jewish ex of 18 years, ring on finger, with just the right attitude and common knowledge with Greg. Greg invited me to visit recently so I flew up. I was only there for a day, hanging out with a few of his new friends, but in that time it was clear Greg is a white suprematist. Being of blue eyed German/Prussian heritage all I’ve got to do in groups like that is lie about my convictions and I’m accepted. White privilege defined. I’ve known and been close friends with Greg since the early 90’s and I never knew that’s how he rolled. There’s so much going on in this friendship it’s unclear where the truth begins and where it ends. Friend? He once saved me from death. Enemy? His views on race are dangerous and in the right situation he is a dangerous man.
We are lied to every day by just about anybody.
On that same sailing trip, due to extenuating circumstances, we were reported to the Coast Guard as missing at sea. When I look back at the passage as a whole I’m amazed that we made it with every one alive and the boat in sound condition. A combination of luck and just enough seamanship one might say. As we approached we readied the boat to sail into the harbor and the berth that had been leased by the owner before we’d left. As we ghosted past more than one person told us that we’d been reported missing. I remember being happy we weren’t. Within minutes we had dock lines on and in a short while had sails flaked and the boat secured. Needless to say the boat reeked, six men at sea for 13 days isn’t a pleasant odor. Showers that evening and a field day on the boat tomorrow had already been talked about, but the most important thing on our minds was to call home to let everyone know we’d made it safely. My girlfriend, Shella, who’d connected me with the voyage had to have been worried sick about me and being a harbormaster was sure to have known about our plight. I imagined her, alone, worried if I were okay.
Dusk was less than an hour away, the Hawaiian air was warm and humid while the sky a beautiful mix of reds, oranges and yellows with a hint of green among tradewind clouds gave the air a soft light. Back in San Francisco I worried that it was probably after midnight but that Shela would be excited to hear from me, and while our phone rang I stood strong and tanned in a way only the sea will shape a man, alive with the confidence of youth and accomplishment coursing through my being. The ringing stopped and I heard the sound of the phone being picked up and then on the other end I heard the voice of a man awakened from his slumber.
“Is Shela there?” I asked.
“She’s asleep,” said the stranger sleeping in my bed.
“Can I talk to her?”
“No, call back in the morning,” he said and hung up.
Stunned and confused I listened to the sound of the quarters I’d plugged into the phone drop into the locked metal collection box. A seagull called in the distance and I now had one less reason to return to San Francisco.