Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Tall Tales

Spinning a yarn. Twisting the truth. Lying. Fibbing. Telling a tall tale. There are a lot of labels placed on something that's not completely true or is in some way, shape or form a fabrication. So where is the line drawn between a dishonest falsehood and creating a fictional tale?

I think it's fair to say we all stretch the truth from time to time. Sometimes it's done to make a story a little more interesting. Other times it may be to steer the listener's thoughts in the direction you want them to go. Regardless of the many reasons we choose to alter the strictest of facts, there seems to be an unwritten rule or line drawn somewhere outlining those tales that are acceptable and those that are outright lies. (At least I haven't been able to find that rule written anywhere.)

My youngest daughter is quite the little story teller. Any "little" story she tells about her day turns into a 20 minute description of events. I think of them as tall tales from a short girl. Don't get me wrong though - she's a terrible liar. She has no ability to stick to a lie and really sell it. In fact, on the very few occasions she tries, you can tell she's about to tell a fib because it's clear on her face that she is completely uncomfortable about it...which makes me proud. I'm talking more about her actual story telling technique. 

She tells a story like Tom Clancy. I absolutely love the movies made from his books, but I will admit I rarely read the books themselves. It's not that I don't enjoy them, I just get lost. I remember one book of his many years ago where the main character approached a door and was determining the best way to gain entry. He looks at the door and then goes into the most intricate details of the color, texture and material it's made of. He then goes on to describing how the door was manufactured and the specific hardware and lockset used in its construction. There may have even been a flashback to encountering a similar door in years past. All I remember is that after three pages of reading about the door, I couldn't remember where the door was located anymore and had to re-read the last three pages. (That may have been a little exaggerated, but I think you get the idea.) 

Today my daughter was trying to tell us that one of her classmates fell asleep at the lunch table. What could have been, "During lunch I looked over at James and he had fallen asleep during lunch," ended up being: (Note: I will shorten the story dramatically so you don't have to read for 20 minutes.) 

"The other day in school - where I go to Kindergarten..the same school my sister goes to...because we go to the same school now. Well, that day, I was in the lunch room and James was there. We were at the same school - where we go to school... the same school as my sister. James and I were looking at each other - across from each other, but on the same side. We could see each other, but we were next to each other - looking at each other, because we could see each other on the same side - not different sides of the table. Then I saw James was asleep."

I was afraid to clarify any details. Not being able to show you the arm motions she used throughout the story really take something away from the overall enjoyment of the story. I keep telling my wife we need to videotape our supper conversations because this is a nightly occurrence. 

Some of her stories get filled with clearly fabricated "facts" she adds for flare, but it really does add something to her story. I see her imagination as a good thing, but something that needs direction. She has the potential to use her gift for good and become a writer one day or (hopefully not) use it for evil and go into politics. I take this as a great responsibility as I help guide her to make the right choice. Until next time....